Coho ferry sold to senior managers

Executive management team agrees to purchase it from Oregon State University Foundation

  • Jan. 10, 2012 11:00 a.m.

The executive managers of the Black Ball Ferry Line have bought the company.

The Black Ball Ferry Line, which operates the M.V. Coho ferry between Port Angeles, Wash., and Victoria, announced Tuesday the company’s executive management team agreed to purchase it from the Oregon State University Foundation.

The line was bequeathed to the foundation in 2004 by former owner Lois Acheson as part of a $21-million gift of her estate to establish an endowment in OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“This does justice to Mrs. Acheson’s gift,” said Victoria-based president Ryan Burles. The company was initially placed in a long-term trust with the intent of preserving its culture and commitment to its employees and the region.

“My aunt Lois Bates Acheson’s wishes have been carried out exactly as she would have wanted to the mutual benefit of the Black Ball management group, the Oregon State University Foundation and the College of Veterinary Medicine,” said Donna Lee Schoen, Black Ball Ferry Line trustee and board member.

“It was her intention that the Coho ferry would continue to provide long-term employment and continuing service for the Port Angeles and Victoria communities.”

The company’s management team includes Burles; CEO Capt. John Cox; senior vice-president of finance David Booth; district manager Rian Anderson, and marketing director Ryan Malane.

Aside from Malane who joined the company last year, the management team members have dozens of years of experience between them.

Burles joined Black Ball in 1981 as a dock hand.

“I don’t feel any difference between managing and owning,” said Burles, who moved up through the company joining the management team in 2004 and taking the helm in 2007.

“I still have a lot of pride and respect for it. My original boss was like a mentor and second father to me, and Mrs. Acheson was a straight person who cared about the employees and passed on a legacy that I am truly honoured to continue.”

The Black Ball Ferry Line recently embarked on a multi-year program to improve the terminal in Port Angeles, as well as the continued renovation of its Victoria facilities.

The company employs more than 120 people and transports 400,000 passengers and 120,000 vehicles annually.