Sealand Mechanical LLC

Mechanical, refrigeration and cooling services on land and sea
Written by: 
Jeanee Dudley
Produced by: 
Jack Porter

Samuel Sanderson established Sealand Mechanical LLC (Sealand) in 1984 after working for another mechanical company for four years. Sanderson has been in the industry since 1978, after working in HVAC for years prior. “I left a business in the same field to start my own venture here in Houma, La.,” he explains. “The relationships I had built with some of the major customers at the other business led to a lot of carry-over when I set out on my own.”

In 2002, Edison Chouest Offshore offered a buyout as long as Sanderson was willing to stay and lead operations. Sanderson no longer wholly owns the company, but he has been happy to focus on running it and building his team’s success. Over the years, Sanderson has led the charge on developing new departments in the company, such as the supermarket refrigeration division, as well as commercial, high-end residential and food service divisions.

The company recently added a restaurant supply and services department. Because of Sealand’s purchasing power in buying cooking equipment, along with the fact that south Louisiana is known for its good food and restaurants, it was a natural choice. The restaurant department is doing so well that Sealand is making plans for a satellite office closer to New Orleans.

While the company’s onshore work has been growing and diversifying over the years, Sealand has built a niche in marine applications. Much of the team’s revenue comes through refrigeration, air conditioning and kitchen setups on new vessels, as well as service and retrofit projects for older vessels.

With over 130 employees, the business operates from a single location in Houma, La.; the team serves customers on land throughout Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Globally, Sealand has a presence in many countries throughout the world. Sealand designs, engineers and installs systems in Brazil on a regular basis, and just completed an eight vessel package in Poland. On the service side, it is not unusual for Sealand to have technicians in four or five countries at any given time.

A broad target market

Sanderson and his team have built an enormous customer base through providing efficient, high-quality mechanical services. “We have got a leg up on the competition in part because of the timely manner in which we do the work,” he explains. “We also have a certain amount of flexibility that allows us to get it done. We try our best to make sure we have what we need when something comes up. Over the years, we have become the largest company in the field. With our recent growth, we just moved into a 64,000-square-foot facility and fabrication shop.”

Businesses across the globe have come to rely on Sealand for efficient, safe and valuable services. Marine clients include commercial maritime operations, mostly oil-related. The company’s portfolio features work for BP, Exxon, Shell, Mobile and Halliburton. These companies require quick turnaround and positive results in order to keep ships on the water. On land, projects include high-end residential and commercial buildings, such as bunk houses, inventory units, warehouses and supermarkets. Many of the residential and commercial buildings are also related to oil companies. Other major commercial clients include Walmart, Sam’s Club and Target, mostly for air conditioning and refrigeration work.

“We have done the design and engineering of air conditioning and refrigeration projects in some of the most beautiful commercial vessels,” Sanderson notes. “Most people do not realize just how nice these vessels are today due to regulations that require them to live up to specific standards; they can rival hotels.”

Sanderson goes on to note that the company is also working on supplemental air conditioning units in pilot houses of vessels. “Especially for those stationed along the equator,” he continues. “Right now we have some unique projects in Santiago, Chile, where the vessels need to be prepared for the conditions in the South Pole.”

Keeping it cool

Sealand has a lot going on and Sanderson says business has been rapidly growing. Despite the economic dip that affected businesses across the world, the company is stable and growing. “Actually, it’s the upturn that has been challenging for us,” he explains. “We have had trouble hiring employees, because unemployment in our region is so low. We are taking on technicians from other countries to keep up with demand.”

And demand keeps growing. To continue fulfilling the growing gaps in the market, Sanderson is managing labor carefully. The team performs all custom fabrication and duct work in-house, but frequently installation is subcontracted. The business has also formed strong partnerships with suppliers, which keep materials moving in on time in order to keep up with projects.

“Right now we are in the midst of an explosion,” Sanderson says. “Growth is just unbelievable. We forecast the company growing twofold and the only thing that can hold us back is the labor shortages. Our biggest need is in the marine field. In the last year, we have placed a huge emphasis on our need for labor.”

As the business builds on a long line of successes, Sanderson and his team are building up Sealand. With new facilities completed, there is plenty of space to grow. With a focus on quality, efficiency and performance, Sealand Mechanical LLC will continue to provide leading marine and commercial mechanical services throughout the region and the world.