St. John's dockyard sold

Moira Baird
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Newdock has a new owner - businessman Ches Penney has sold the 120-year-old ship repair yard in St. John's to businessman Paul Antle.

Neither Penney nor Antle is disclosing the purchase price of the privately held St. John's Dockyard.

Penney said the deal was in the works for about two months, and Antle has inquired about the business periodically over the years.

The St. John's dockyard has been sold, but new owner Paul Antle says the business will remain as is. Top right, Ches Penney. Bottom right, Paul Antle. Dockyard file photo

Newdock has a new owner - businessman Ches Penney has sold the 120-year-old ship repair yard in St. John's to businessman Paul Antle.

Neither Penney nor Antle is disclosing the purchase price of the privately held St. John's Dockyard.

Penney said the deal was in the works for about two months, and Antle has inquired about the business periodically over the years.

"I felt this is the time," Penney said. "I'm 78 and it's time for me to move on. I found who I believe is the right person to own it and who has the money to buy it."

He was also keen to sell the business to a local businessperson.

"I wanted it to be bought and operated by a Newfoundlander."

Penney and then-partner Austin Burry of the Burry Group acquired the troubled dockyard from Marine Atlantic in 1997. Three years later, Penney bought out Burry to become the sole owner.

"It's operating very well and it's a very successful company," Penney said. "There'll always be a place for the dockyard in St. John's."

Now, the dockyard is in Antle's hands.

"I am the sole owner," Antle said. "I have no partners."

He has sold most of the environmental businesses he started in Newfoundland and said he was looking for another business.

"I was looking for something to anchor me in the province again, and something that had substance and longevity.

"Ches and I did speak about the dockyard some time ago. He was looking for a home for that business and I was looking for a business, so it just mutually lined up."

Antle has no plans for changes at the dockyard.

"There's no changes from an operational perspective - none," he said. "There's no layoffs ... everything is status quo."

Antle said the dockyard's management team was one of the reasons he bought the business. "It is a good group of people - they know their business, they have a lot of experience and they're just really good to work with."

The management team will continue to look after the day-to-day operations.

A chemical engineer by training, Antle has worked steadily in the environmental industry - founding Island Waste Management in 1990. He sold it for $5.6 million in 2006.

He's president and CEO of Phase Separations Solutions Inc.

The soil remediation company is a wholly owned subsidiary of publicly traded West Mountain Capital Corp., which invests in environmental services companies.

Newdock employs about 300 people at its ship repair and industrial fabrication yard. The seven-hectare property at the west end of the harbour includes a 4,000-tonne marine elevator, a 174-metre drydock and a testing facility for subsea equipment used in the offshore oil industry.

"It's really a part of our history, a part of our culture. It's part of who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."

The dockyard's core business is repairing and maintaining a variety of ships - Canadian Coast Guard ships, provincial ferries, offshore supply vessels, fishing boats and freight carriers.

"It's going to remain the core business - ship repair," Antle said. "It's kind of like your service station for boats, and, fortunately, it's one of the few in Atlantic Canada."

The yard also does offshore fabrication, but he said that work is "somewhat sporadic."

The dockyard deal may also put to rest speculation about Antle's political future, for now.

He has been rumoured as a contender for the upcoming provincial Liberal leadership race. And in 2006, he ran for the federal Liberals in St. John's East, losing to then-incumbent Tory Norm Doyle.

"I think it's probably safe to say a political career is on the backburner for a while," said Antle.

"I'm positive that it's going to be in my future at some point. But, right now, my focus is on business."

mbaird@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Burry Group, Marine Atlantic, Phase Separations Solutions West Mountain Capital Canadian Coast Guard

Geographic location: St. John's East, Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • I. P. Freely
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    From the pics it seems that they have a lot of work, three coast guard vessels up on dry dock, with more in behind. Keep up the good work, and good luck. But, you better be careful, if Shannie sets her sights on you she will turn this into a heritage site, yet another beautiful part of our downtown.

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Congratulations Ches Penney...hopefully an impromptu strike won't scuttle the deal before it closes.

  • Sounding
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Eyesore that dockyard is. Just look at that photo! Looks like open pit mining in the back ground right in the city. The entire west end of that dockyard along Water St. West should be expropriated by the City and the New City of glass towers be built there. Let's develop the west end!

  • Blair
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    It didn't take long for a negative comment to appear, isn't it funny how negativism is so easily stated by some one hiding and afraid to give their name. But maybe b stands for boondoggle. Must b painfull to see someone succeed.

  • jo
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    To sounding off The open pit minig look in the background is part of the waste treatment plant and has nothing to do with the dockyard. I agree the open pit mining look needs to be fixed though, hydo-seedinhg maybe? Pretty silly idea to close down the dockyard this is a working harbour city and it needs a dockyard...

  • noel
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    I worked at that dock yard for 20 years, I now work for a major Oil Company looking after refits all over the world, I have found none to compare to the fine workman ship the Dock Yard offers.

  • b
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Ches Penney finally decided to unload that unionized boondoggle. Good luck to Paul Antle, he'll need it.

  • gary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    This photo does not even show the dockyard. The foreground is Oceanex, then the Coast guard base, and the background is the new sewage treatment facility. As usual the telegram are in the fog

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    To jo. I think Sounding Off was making a joke in reference to the glass crap being suggested for the East End of Downtown by Fortis.

    Anyways, congrads Mr. Antle. Glad to see a Newfoundland business kept in the hands of Newfoundlanders and good luck.

  • ken
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    the pic is not even a pic of Newdock, thats OCEANX, and the Coast Guard ship is docked at the Coast Guard base on the Southside

  • don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I think its great news. I attended school with Paul Antle at St. Joseph's many years ago. Paul has done really well for himself. I wasn't as fortunate in business due to health problems but when you hear that one of the old gang is making a name for himself as well as making lots of money it does the heart good. He is a nice guy as well as a great business man.Don't worry about the negative comments Paul it's mostly sour grapes. Keep up the good work pal.
    all the best.

  • I. P. Freely
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    From the pics it seems that they have a lot of work, three coast guard vessels up on dry dock, with more in behind. Keep up the good work, and good luck. But, you better be careful, if Shannie sets her sights on you she will turn this into a heritage site, yet another beautiful part of our downtown.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Congratulations Ches Penney...hopefully an impromptu strike won't scuttle the deal before it closes.

  • Sounding
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Eyesore that dockyard is. Just look at that photo! Looks like open pit mining in the back ground right in the city. The entire west end of that dockyard along Water St. West should be expropriated by the City and the New City of glass towers be built there. Let's develop the west end!

  • Blair
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    It didn't take long for a negative comment to appear, isn't it funny how negativism is so easily stated by some one hiding and afraid to give their name. But maybe b stands for boondoggle. Must b painfull to see someone succeed.

  • jo
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    To sounding off The open pit minig look in the background is part of the waste treatment plant and has nothing to do with the dockyard. I agree the open pit mining look needs to be fixed though, hydo-seedinhg maybe? Pretty silly idea to close down the dockyard this is a working harbour city and it needs a dockyard...

  • noel
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    I worked at that dock yard for 20 years, I now work for a major Oil Company looking after refits all over the world, I have found none to compare to the fine workman ship the Dock Yard offers.

  • b
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Ches Penney finally decided to unload that unionized boondoggle. Good luck to Paul Antle, he'll need it.

  • gary
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    This photo does not even show the dockyard. The foreground is Oceanex, then the Coast guard base, and the background is the new sewage treatment facility. As usual the telegram are in the fog

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    To jo. I think Sounding Off was making a joke in reference to the glass crap being suggested for the East End of Downtown by Fortis.

    Anyways, congrads Mr. Antle. Glad to see a Newfoundland business kept in the hands of Newfoundlanders and good luck.

  • ken
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    the pic is not even a pic of Newdock, thats OCEANX, and the Coast Guard ship is docked at the Coast Guard base on the Southside

  • don
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    I think its great news. I attended school with Paul Antle at St. Joseph's many years ago. Paul has done really well for himself. I wasn't as fortunate in business due to health problems but when you hear that one of the old gang is making a name for himself as well as making lots of money it does the heart good. He is a nice guy as well as a great business man.Don't worry about the negative comments Paul it's mostly sour grapes. Keep up the good work pal.
    all the best.