River Salvage Company Continues To Grow

The Waterways Journal
19 June 2006
By Ross Rogers Jr. and Nelson Spencer Jr.

Large Marge Barge (LMB), River Salvage's 350-ton heavy lift A-Frame rig. The hull was completely cropped and renewed by River Salvage. It was named, in jest, after Peggy Pfaff, administrative manager. A 500-ton heavy lift A-Frame is currently under construction.

Al Stein, founder of River Salvage Company Inc., started with three employees in 1977. Since then, the company has become a major player in the inland marine salvage business.

The company now has nearly 30 employees. They operate 18 boats and numerous cranes and barges within a territory spanning 3,000 river miles, concentrating on the Ohio River. Services provided by the company include barge and boat raising, equipment rental, dredging, cell installation and repair, heavy lifts, barge and boat repairs, dock building, marina construction and repair, pipelines and bridge demolition.

Continuing to grow, the company recently announced plans to build a new 500-ton-capacity heavy lift and salvage A Frame (sheer leg) rig.

Work on the rig will be performed under the supervision of James Zubik Jr., vice president, at River Salvage's base of operations, Glenwillard, Pa., Ohio River Mile 14.5. According to Zubik, 120-foot-long sheer legs will be installed on a 200- by 54-foot hull.

The hull will be fitted with 36-inch-diameter spuds and two 20,000-pound anchors, for mooring and positioning.

Company History

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa., Stein was familiar with the three-rivers area. With a degree in civil engineering and an MBA, both from the University of Pittsburgh, he began his career, like many locals before him, in the steel industry. Prior to his career in the private sector, he served as an officer in the Navy for four years.

That experience, coupled with a failing steel industry, is what convinced Stein to start his own marine business. Since then he has worked on the river for the last 29 years and continues to be the president of River Salvage. He has also served as president of the Waterways Association of Pittsburgh from 1990 to 1992.

Zubik is another essential part of the River Salvage team. He is currently the vice president as well as part owner of the company. Zubik was born in a very marine oriented family and raised close to the river. His career with River Salvage began in 1979. According to Stein he is a crucial part of their business.

"We can credit most of our suc cess to Jimmy," said Stein.

Some of their most recent projects include salvage work following Hurricane Katrina. Immediately following the storm, they quickly mobilized a salvage fleet, including their LMB 350-ton capacity A-Frame rig.

Zubik spent about six months in the New Orleans area.

"We were pulling one to two barges back to the river each day," he said.

Most recently, the company successfully removed an asphalt barge from the Louisville area. The barge had been pushed by current into the K&I railroad bridge where it lay for several months. The difficult operation is now complete without any damage to the bridge.

Other large projects in their portfolio include the demolition of the Wheeling Terminal Railroad Bridge, scour protection at Emsworth Dam and salvage operations at Belleville Locks and Dam and Maxwell Locks.

Future plans include dike work on the Monongahela River.