We had the good fortune of connecting with Kasey Eckstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kasey, how do you think about risk?
To me, taking risks is essential to creating change, success and progress. If you’re always playing it safe then it is very difficult to achieve greatness. I have always lived by the saying that you only regret the risks that you don’t take. Believe it or not, starting WIMOs was quite a big risk. Working in what is considered a “male-dominated” industry made launching WIMOs a risky endeavor due to the fact that I did not want my male counterparts to feel under attack. This concern was amplified due to the sensitivities around the “me too movement” at the time of our founding. Some would say that this movement made the formation of WIMOs easier, but we are in a very male-dominated industry and the sensitivities around this movement stirred up so much emotion. Therefore, Jenna Gaudet (WIMOs co-founder) and I were very strategic and sensitive in our communications to both males and females when we first started out and we continue that thorough communication today. WIMOs was one of the first risks that I took in my career, but it certainly was not the last.

In 2019, I pressed pause on my career to go backpacking solo around the world to 15 different countries. This experience opened my eyes up to the importance of diversity, while dramatically changing my life and worldview. I was genuinely frightened of what that time off would do to my career, but after a lot of hard work, numerous phone calls and interviews, I landed on my feet and was re-employed into the industry that I love.

Another risk that I took was resigning from Marquette Transportation. Marquette was a barge line that my grandfather founded in the ’70’s and at the time my uncle was the CEO. The main reason I decided to leave was because I wanted to go out into the industry and prove myself on my own through working for other companies. Although I knew that my accomplishments at the time were due to my own efforts, I often heard from others that I was only where I was because I was family. Although Marquette gave me an amazing start in this industry (and I am still so grateful for that), it became a comfort zone and great things never come from comfort zones. Now, 4 years later I am employed by the largest barge line in the world and I can proudly say I am here solely due to my own hard work, not because I am family to one of the owners.

Establishing WIMOs, taking time away from my career to backpack around the world and leaving my comfort zone were three risks that were life changing and I wouldn’t change a thing.

What should our readers know about your business?
I started working in Sales for Ingram Barge Company in January 2021. Ingram Barge is the largest barge line in the world. Ingram owns and operates close to 5,000 barges and 140 towboats all over the inland waterway system. Ingram also owns and operates fleets all over the USA, one of which is right here in Houston, TX / Channelview, TX. In December 2020, Ingram purchased the largest fleet on the Houston Ship Channel which is now named Houston Fleeting Services.

Houston Fleeting Services is the largest single fleeting area in Texas. Houston Fleeting Services offers fleeting, shift boat services, towing, and other barge and boat services in the Houston Ship Channel and surrounding areas. Our facility, located just north of the I-10 bridge on the San Jacinto River, is serviced by retractable boats which allows us to easily maneuver barges in and out of our 190+ acre facility. In addition to barge fleeting, we are also available for shifting, hourly work, and other towing/pushboat services.

I work in liquid cargo sales for Ingram and I recently took on an additional role handling the marketing and sales for Houston Fleeting Services. Getting to this point in my career has been a wild ride.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

Well it’s no secret that Houston is a foodie town, so the itinerary would likely revolve around great restaurants. I always love a good rooftop brunch at B&B Butchers. Kata Robata, Handies Duozo, Uchi, Roka Akor and Ume are all incredible sushi restaurants, so we’d have to hit at least two of those. I’m also a big fan of Toulouse and Eight Row Flint on a nice sunny days and Georgia James is my go-to for a fabulous steak dinner. As for non-food activities, I love walking and rollerblading around Buffalo Bayou, as well as shooting guns at my friend’s ranch in Rosharon.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout has to go to two individuals: Jenna Gaudet, the co-founder and Associate Director of WIMOs, and April-Hope Wareham, the WIMOs National Secretary, as well as the Regional Continuous Improvement lead at Cargill.

Jenna and I have been through so much together and make a great team. We compliment each other so well and make one another better (or at least she makes me better). We figured this out early-on in our friendship and that’s how we were able to get WIMOs up and running so quickly. She has been there for me through the most difficult times of my career and personal life and she is the most dependable and caring person that I know.

April-Hope was one of the founding board members of WIMOs. She played a vital role in constructing the WIMOs bylaws and has played (and continues to play) an integral role in establishing and expanding the organization. She is solely responsible for our presence in the Pacific Northwest, as she established this chapter after moving from New Orleans, LA to Tacoma, WA. April-Hope is also the creator and current author of The WIMOs Quarterly Newsletter. She is the epitome of a woman working in maritime operations and we are truly blessed to have her on the WIMOs National Board.

Website: www.wimos.org

Instagram: @KaseyEckstein

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kasey-eckstein-a5808649/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kmeckste

Image Credits
Leah Wilson Photography took the photos of the women holding shotguns and the women sitting under the tent. Her number is 713-553-3914. She is a female entrepreneur and very easy to work with, so I highly recommend her!

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.