East Coast Repair and Fabrication, better known as ECR, started out as a one-man ship repair business operating from the back of the founder’s pick-up truck. Today, it’s has grown into a company of 500 employees serving the U.S. Navy, heavy industry, the maritime sector and other organizations from its divisions in three states.
Jorge Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico, founded the business in 1999 in Coastal Virginia. Today, ECR has a relatively new operational facility in Newport News, with corporate offices in Portsmouth, as well as other divisions in addition to sister companies located in Jacksonville, Fla. And Chula Vista, Calif.
ECR provides repair, maintenance, and fabrication services for the government and maritime sectors and numerous industrial businesses. ECR has held prime contracts with the Navy, as well as the Military Sealift Command, and other maritime vessel operators, including MARAD, Crowley, and Maersk. The company specializes in custom fabrication, vessel repair and modernization, equipment and HVAC repair, steel and aluminum plate rolling, bending, cutting, and shaping, and structural repairs and other services for boats and master ships. They’ll even deliver large fabrications via truck or barge.
Rene Doiron has been at the helm as president since 2018, leading efforts to open ECR’s ship repair facility on Terminal Avenue in downtown Newport News. The facility, which began operations more than three years ago, sits on 84 acres and features two 1,000-foot-long deep-water repair and outfitting piers. Pier 14 is newly refurbished, while renovations are wrapping up on Pier 15. The intent is for it to become a full-service shipyard.
Last year, ECR scored a major coup when it was tasked with repairs of the USS Cole at its Newport News facility. Currently, employees are working on improvements to the USS Truxton at the same location, while the USS Cole will return for additional maintenance later this fall. The contracts have been a boon for the company.
“Working on the USS Cole was a milestone for us,” says Doiron. “It was a big deal for the Navy, and a big deal for us hosting a Navy ship for the first time at that facility. The USS Cole was a great success for us, and the USS Truxton is proving to be another success. It’s an exciting time right now for us at ECR.”
ECR’s Virginia division won awards for work on the USS Normandy and the USS Ramage, both of which were completed in late April. Employees also worked on projects on the USS New York and the USS Nitze. The company has also done collaborations on fabrication work with Newport News Shipbuilding, which is located adjacent to its ship repair facility.
“One of our goals is to foster that working relationship with them and enhance the support we are able to offer them, and other partners like them,” Doiron says.
Another objective as the company continues to expand, is to increase workforce development and community outreach. Over the summer, ECR raised $138,000 for the Southside Boys & Girls Club during its annual fishing tournament. Next up, ECR is looking to launch a non-profit maritime training center organization to help veterans and others upskill and prepare for good paying jobs. The center will be open to those interested in learning a skilled trade, such as welding (which Rivera started out doing), electrical, pipe-fitting, ship repair, and other general maintenance work.
Doiron, who spent 18 years in the industry working for Vigor Industrial before Rivera lured him to ECR, is looking forward to what the future holds for the company.
“We have a good team and environment, and our employees like the people they work for and work with. That’s important,” he says. “We are a growing company, and I am enjoying being a part of its evolution.”