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Manson Retirees - 2020


Congratulations to Vice President of Equipment, Shawn Hillis, on his retirement after 42 years with Manson! Shawn is a second generation Manson employee and the 10th Hillis to be associated with Manson.

Shawn began his career in October 1978, learning the ins and outs of vessel maintenance and operations. In June of the following year he was assigned to the newly-christened JEFFREY M to tow the cutter suction dredge HUSKY II to Alaska. Regarding that first trip Shawn recalls, “It was a great experience. I was 19-years-old, and we took that spanking new red-and-white boat up the Inland Passage – one of the most beautiful trips in the world.”

Over the years, Shawn has worked on nearly every derrick, dredge, and tug in Manson’s fleet, working up and down the West Coast, including a trip to Cedros Island, Mexico. He also spent time aboard the hopper dredges NEWPORT and WESTPORT learning systems for hydrographic surveying. Shawn was promoted to Vice President of Equipment in 2006, and he has been instrumental in keeping Manson’s rigs in shipshape condition, implementing a vigorous maintenance program, and continually leading upgrade initiatives with the best available and environmentally conscious technology.

Thank you, Shawn, for all your hard work and service to Manson.



For those who have worked in dredging within Manson’s Gulf & East Coast team over the last five decades, just about everyone knows the name “Captain Ronney.” Since 1969, he’s been logging 12 hour days on a cutter suction dredge somewhere in the Gulf and East Coast of the United States. In addition to owning his own dredge company, he has worked for Goodloe, Southern, TL James, Great Lakes, Devcon, Orion, Weeks, Inland, and Manson. In addition to being the Captain of Manson’s dredge LEONARD J and dredge BECHTOLT, he captained the dredge PONTCHARTRAIN, the CAPTAIN FRANK, the GD MORGAN, and the VENTURE (all 27 and 30 inch dredges.)

Captain Ronney has more remarkable, startling, and gut wrenching stories than anyone I’ve ever met. And if you spend enough time with him, he will also gift you with unlimited candid opinions. He will tell you what companies in the industry have the best equipment and worst equipment. He will tell you which companies are dangerous and safe, ethical and unethical. He will tell you who the owners and supervisors are, their personalities, and how they are as people. One thing Captain Ronney has told me many times without hesitating, is that there is no dredging company that treats its people as well as Manson.

Captain Ronney was and always will be “old school.” He hates paperwork. And tells the unfiltered truth unconditionally. Even retired, he’ll remain widely known and talked about for years to come. A natural born leader who worked his crews hard and commanded respect, but was also a mentor (and even father figure) to literally hundreds of young dredge hands through the years. We will miss him greatly.



After a 46-year career in the marine construction industry with his last 10 years at Manson, Robert LeBlanc retired on May 15, 2020. Robert worked out of the Houma, LA, office with the offshore group starting as the offshore manager and moving up to vice president of offshore construction. His experience in the oil and gas construction industry prior to joining Manson proved invaluable in building strategies and plans to best apply Manson assets and expertise.

Robert excelled in his ability to see and pursue relationships that weren’t obvious because he left no stone unturned and no link unfollowed. Robert was part of the family in Houma as he continued to make relations with customers, vendors, and employees.

Robert enjoyed collecting historical oil and gas files and sharing articles and old photos with his colleagues. In his free time, Robert liked to spend time working on with his classic Ford Mustang. His love for classic cars includes traveling the coast to show off his car and checking out those of other collectors. We wish him well during the next journey in his life, as he travels and spends time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. We will miss his team spirit and good nature. Please join us in wishing Robert well in his retirement.

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