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Red and White: How Manson Got Its Signature Colors

An aerial view of Manson's Terminal 18 Construction project in progress at the Port of Seattle in 1967.

Manson Construction Co. has been a long time contributor to the development and revitalization of the Port of Seattle’s marine infrastructure, completing many projects over the years which enhanced the Port’s transportation and cargo capabilities.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, at a time when containerization was becoming the standard for ports across the U.S., Manson had demolished, built, and improved several sections of the Port, including Terminal 5, Terminal 20, and Terminal 18.

Manson’s Terminal 18 Construction project took place in the mid-1960s and aided the Port’s support for a variety of Japanese shipping lines and Matson’s container services for Hawaii. To create the new terminal, Manson demolished existing structures and connected what were then piers 18, 19, and 20. Over the next several years, Manson would continue to build additional infrastructure at Terminal 18 including Unit 2 and Unit 4 to help the Port of Seattle accommodate the nation’s largest general cargo vessels at the time.

A derrick barge at the Port of Seattle.
The derrick barge NORSEMAN sporting Manson's red and white colors on the Terminal 18 North Apron Upgrade project at the Port of Seattle in 2005.

Manson’s work at the Port of Seattle garnered interest from many clients nationwide, who looked at the marine contractor as the key to completing complex, marine projects. The Terminal 18 Construction project was a prime example of the company’s benchmark work in marine construction. It was an exchange on Terminal 18 involving Manson’s fourth president, Peter Haug, which sparked the idea to change Manson’s branding from the opal grey color it was at the time. While touring the project at Terminal 18, Peter had trouble pointing out Manson’s rigs to a potential client and was inspired to change the company’s brand colors to its now-iconic red and white color scheme.

The new color pairing was chosen for easy identification rather than beautification, and not long after, Manson painted its derricks with red booms and white tops.

More than 50 years later, Manson vessels are easily recognizable and have become a mainstay throughout North America’s waterways.

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