Benny Cenac and Main Iron Works


Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr.

For some, shipyards evoke thoughts of time gone by: craftsman using their hands and skills to bring together marine vessels of all kinds, designed to float and sail across waters great and small. For Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr. and the staff of Cenac Marine Services, that time is still very much now. Main Iron Works LLC sits fifty miles into the Intracoastal Waterway in Houma, a contemporary shipyard specializing in the construction, repair and repowering of marine vessels and barges.

Founded by Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr.’s maternal grandfather, Horace “Jack” Guidry, in 1947, Main Iron Works has been providing shipbuilding and refurbishing services to the Houma area for over seven decades. Today, the historic shipyard serves as the home to a major building enterprise, building its first steel boat on Bayou Terrebonne and growing into a leader in the tug construction industry, providing push boats, tugboats, specialty boats and fishing vessels for marine transport companies.
Main Iron Works, which was acquired by Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr. and the Cenac Group in July of 2015, operates as an independent entity under the wide umbrella of the Cenac Group. They have continued their progressive construction and design growth, expanding its services to include a full-service machine shop.

Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr. Expands Main Iron Works
The new machine shop, certified with the American Bureau of Shipping, offers general machine work as well as specialty work including (but not limited to) propeller shaft construction and repair, steering components, specialized pump and prop repair and water jetting of parts. The shop is housed in a brand-new building, complete with two 10-ton overhead hoists and four 5-town overhead hoists. Their machinery is state of the art and includes five manual lathes, a shaft-straightening press, a waterjet cutting table, two double head sub-arc wielding machines as well as various support machines from mills and drills to saws and more.

Thanks to Benny Cenac’s investment, facilities and operations within Main Iron Works have been modernized to keep the tradition of quality and innovation as set in place by Guidry over seventy years ago. The combination of the Cenac Group’s resources and the core mission of other Cenac companies—including Cenac Towing—has made an ideal dynamic duo with Main Iron Works.

Since Arlen “Benny” Cenac purchased Main Iron Works, the shipyard has transformed from a historic, classic shipyard to a state-of-the-art facility, complete with four dry docks, construction slips, warehousing, barge building and repair facilities, and painting and blasting facilities—all covered, ensuring on-time delivery for projects regardless of weather. Benny Cenac and Main Iron Works plan to expand their reach nationally, designing and building vessels for inland, lake and river systems across the nation. They’ve invested heavily in the physical plant’s capabilities, technology and human resources, and are set to see a hearty return on that investment—the shipyard is now equipped to build almost any vessel used in the sector nationally.

This national investment fits with the Cenac Group’s strategic plan—in the upcoming years, the group is preparing to qualify for and participate in government contract work, a natural extension of their current capabilities.

Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr. is always looking to find more ways to expand his business and his ever-growing pool of employees. Benny Cenac treats his employees like family, making sure that they all take pride in their work and in the company. He understands that the most important thing is making sure Houma is a thriving community and a great place to live. That’s why Benny Cenac does so much to give back to that community. His local philanthropy goes hand in hand with his efforts to move Main Iron Works into the future and continue to build a company that his ancestor would be proud of.



Main Iron Works / 148 Old Ferry Rd. Houma, LA / 985-876-6302 ·
Cenac Marine Services, LLC / 742 LA-182, Houma, LA / 985-872-2413 ·


Categories: Inside the Industry 2019