Ocean Products celebrates 50 years in business
Ocean Products Research, Inc., will hold a 50th anniversary celebration from noon-4 p.m. next Thursday, July 3, at its plant on Butts Lane in Diggs.
The public is welcome to join the staff for a barbecue meal and tours of the facility that day, said company president James M. Hutson. His parents, Bobbie and Kathleen Hutson, started the company in 1964.
Hutson said his father, Bobbie, was a regional sales manager for Samson Cordage Works when, in 1963, he was challenged by the U.S. Navy to develop a helicopter sling with non-electric properties so military workers would not get shocked loading and offloading materials in war zones in Vietnam. The elder Hutson, who died in 2007, designed a synthetic sling with rope that he spliced and fabricated in a neighbor’s kitchen.
From that simple start, Ocean Products has grown to a company that has contracts around the world for specialty rope and related products. About two-thirds of the business is for the military and various companies, James Hutson said, while about a third of the business involves sales of various supplies for commercial and recreational fishermen.
In the early years, Bobbie Hutson ran the business, while his wife handled the books. Now, James Hutson is in charge of the business, with his brother, Paul S. Hutson, serving as vice president. One of their sisters, Robin H. Hurst, is secretary for the company’s board. Other owners include Hutson’s sister, Susan H. Thomas, who is not active in the day-to-day operations, and their cousin, James E. Hall, who is general sales manager. All reside in Mathews.
James Hutson has worked at the company for more than 40 years, serving as its president for about 25 years. He said the company fabricates synthetic net and rope assemblies for the government, military, marine, industrial, and commercial fishing.