In 1967 in Cocoa, Fla., the late Jim Pearce formed a new company to help control water pollution: American Marine. An early innovator in the development of oil containment booms, fire booms and turbidity curtains, Pearce initially developed Hull Guards, devices used to help small boat owners keep the bottom of their vessels free of barnacles—at a reasonable cost.
Soon, the company moved into the oil containment boom business. An oil spill in nearby Port Canaveral, Fla., led to the development of the company’s first oil containment boom, which outperformed a rival and led to bigger things.
As Pearce later wrote about those early days, “I got busy designing a real version of an oil boom which would retain the good features of the prototype but be designed from the start as an oil boom.” The American Marine shop was redesigned, and the company bought its first electronic heat sealing machine “to take the place of all the gluing of seams.”
The company also developed an extruded aluminum quick-connect system to join lengths of oil boom together. It survives as one of two industry-wide standards today.
In 1971 a State of Florida environmental engineer asked Pearce to develop a product to contain the silt being stirred up in an Atlantic Coast river by a bridge construction project.
He agreed to take the project on, though he noted to the engineer that at the time he didn’t really have any knowledge of the problem or solution. But soon the first turbidity control curtains made their appearance.
In 1997 talks between Elastec and American Marine led to an agreement, and Elastec officially acquired American Marine. The surviving corporation was called Elastec/American Marine Inc., initially, but today the company is called Elastec with an American Marine division.
Fifty years after American Marine was formed, it remains an integral part of the Elastec mission of “keeping the world clean” with an array of floating containment booms, trash and debris barriers, turbidity curtains, oil skimmer systems, workboats, portable incinerators and vacuum equipment in use in 155 countries.