Breaux, Royce and Breaux, Roy, Jr.
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Center for Public History, University of Houston; University of Houston Libraries, University of Houston
This is an oral history interview with Royce Breaux and Roy Breaux, Jr. conducted as part of the Houston History Project. Royce Breaux is the chairman of Breauxs Baycraft, Inc. and Roy Breaux Jr. is the president. Both have followed in their father, Roy Breaux Sr.'s, footsteps and have continued the tradition of building custom aluminum crew boats. Royce Breaux work at her father's shipyard as a teenager doing clerical work. She went off to college and got a degree in law from Loyola University. Roy Breaux Jr. worked at the shipyard at a very young age and attended USL. In 1984, during the economic downturn in the offshore industry, Roy Breaux Sr. gave Royce and Roy Jr. the opportunity to work for the family business to eventually take it over. They both agreed to do so and took over the company in 1991 after Roy Sr.'s death. Company significance/history: Roy Breaux Sr. started off working in the sugar cane fields in Loreauville. He repaired farming equipment at his father's blacksmith shop and actually patented or attempted to obtain a patent on a sugar cane loader. After working at Avondale in WWII, he opened a ship yard to build boats for the oil industry. He saw a need for custom-built crew boats and supply boats for the emerging oil industry. He took the opportunity, educated himself on boat building and running a ship yard, and set out to produce a product needed for the economy. It was strictly a means of survival. He started with a small crew of five non-educated French-speaking country boys building steel hull inland workboats that would operate in the Lake Dautrieve and surround inland gas fields. Breaux was a "hand-on" laborer and work side-by-side with his crew. Later, he built steel workboats with an aluminum cabin, and then replaced steel hulls altogether with aluminum. Aluminum boats are faster, lighter, easier to operate, and easier to work with than steel. Breaux never worked with drawings or designs, we saw the finished product in his head and worked his way back. He recorded the designs in a ledger ONLY AFTER a boat was finished. He categorized every facet of his business through man hours. When his younger kids cut the grass, he had to know how many man hours to pay them. As demand grew along with the offshore industry, Breaux adapted to the changes and grew with the industry. He transformed his small "backyard shipyard" into big business with 300 employees building several boats a year. In the early 1980s, after the older sons left and started their own shipyard and the "bust" brought a decline to the oil industry, Roy Breaux took his two youngest children, Roy Jr. and Royce, out of state and gave them a choice of joining and taking over the business or moving on to something else. He gave them each 10 minutes to decide and told them "If you make the decision to stay, I can promise you, you will be broke." He would have supported them either way, however, he knew the future of his life's work and family owned business rest with his two younger children. They knew this also and both decided to stay on. They learned the business and eventually took it over after Roy Sr. passed away in 1991. Today, the design, service, and quality craftsmanship of the Roy Breaux crew boat still goes into each and every vessel built at Breauxs Baycraft. The design may change with technology, however, the actual structure and layout and fabrication of the boat is exactly the same as Roy Breaux Sr. built it 50 years ago. It is his legacy that his two children, Roy Jr. and Royce, have strived to maintain. Interviewer: Jason P. Theriot.
Energy development; Petroleum industry and trade; Breaux, Royce; Breaux, Roy, Jr.
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University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
Houston History Archives
Oral Histories from the Houston History Project
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Preservation Location: ark:/84475/pm03074v161
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This item is accessible by: the public.