Metal Shark traces its roots to 1986, when Jimmy and Donna Gravois founded Gravois Aluminum Boats, LLC and began building custom welded-aluminum fishing boats for Gulf Coast anglers. Steeped in South Louisiana’s strong boat building heritage, the Gravois family developed a knack for producing fully custom hand-built boats tailored to suit the needs of each owner, while also delivering the benefits of a great-running and highly durable hull. Together, with each new build, the Gravois family began to cement a reputation for the quality of their work, and Gravois Aluminum Boats became known and sought-after in the marketplace.
During those early years, master welder and veteran boat builder Jimmy Gravois handled all of the design work while overseeing each build, one at a time, at the fledgling company’s small shop in Jeanerette, Louisiana. Meanwhile, Donna Gravois bore many responsibilities, overseeing everything from purchasing and production scheduling to invoicing and serving as HR director; doing whatever it took to keep the business operating smoothly. Through the combined efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Gravois, their two sons, and their small but dedicated group of builders, Gravois boats became known and admired as “lifetime hulls” among Gulf Coast fishermen. Boat by boat, the the Gravois family established a loyal following that continues to thrive.
In 2003, the Gravois family was approached by the parent company of Donzi and Pro-Line boats, American Marine Holdings (AMH), to produce aluminum boats to support its government sales efforts. Gravois Aluminum Boats partnered with AMH and “Metal Shark” was the name given to this new joint venture. The company launched its first aluminum patrol boats and work boats, which were marketed to military and law enforcement customers under the AMH umbrella. Jimmy, Donna, and the small Gravois workforce intuitively understood the needs of government operators, which, come to find out, weren’t all that different from those of demanding Gulf Coast anglers. Chief among them, performance, durability, and the ability to customize to suit specific owner requirements – all existing Gravois specialties.
With her strong background in organizational and process implementation, Co-Owner Sarah Geiger assumed control of Metal Shark’s planning, project management, and government contracting efforts and created the systems infrastructure to enable to company’s future growth. Ms. Geiger directed the company’s sales and business development initiatives and implemented multiple complex systems including sales and program/project tracking, management processes, and the selection, customization and development of software tools. Under her direction in a range of capacities including Vice President and President, Metal Shark grew exponentially; competing for and landing a succession of notable government contracts for increasingly complex vessels, while at the same time expanding its footprints into new domestic and international markets, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of multiyear contracts.
At the same time, Co-Owner Chris Allard, a naval architect and graduate of the prestigious Webb Institute, began to implement the engineering-centric approach that would define the company and fuel its growth. Under Mr. Allard’s direction, Metal Shark invested heavily to create an in-house engineering team composed of veteran talent working alongside the industry’s best and brightest young minds. Metal Shark established internship programs with leading universities and leveraged its formidable engineering strength (currently over 35 in-house naval architects and marine engineers and counting) to push the design envelope, shaking up the market with innovative features to enhance performance, versatility, and safety; out-engineering the competition and creating the most crew-friendly platforms available.
Today, Metal Shark is a stable, family owned, financially secure company with the resources, commitment, and determination to serve its customers for decades to come. With two facilities, over 400 employees, an in-house engineering department composed of over 30 naval architects and marine engineers, and dedicated customer service and training departments, each and every Metal Shark customer receives the highest level of care. Metal Shark facilities cover 40+ acres with established work forces, management, and systems that are innovative while being tried and true. With nearly 1,000 boats in service, Metal Shark boasts the experience to support even the most challenging requirements. For more on Metal Shark’s ownership group click here.