McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • McPherson native's underwater business grows

  • The holiday season means increased traveling for some.
    For McPherson resident John Ferguson and his company, however, worldwide commute is just part of the job.
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  • The holiday season means increased traveling for some.
    For McPherson resident John Ferguson and his company, however, worldwide commute is just part of the job.
    Insite Technologies, a division of Mid-Gulf Shipping Company Inc., is a subsea robotics, terrestrial crawlers and remote sensors company. It provides the submersibles and pilots to conduct pipeline inspections, drill and diver support, enclosed penetration hull inspections and other services. Its inland division includes tank inspections and technology for safe viewing of bridges, mines and other areas, according to its website.
    Most recently, Insite has been involved in several dives.
    In September, the company completed a six-month project off the shores of Mexico. Their job was to remove three legs from a barge that were more than 150 feet long each. The barge used the legs to dig into the sea bed and lift the boat out of the water, but the barge sank and the legs needed to be removed. The legs were cut in pieces and removed by sections.
    In November, Insite also assisted in the inspection of an oil rig that sunk during Hurricane Katrina. After a permit was granted, the rig was converted to a wildlife habitat. The company took two weeks to identify a gas leak in the area.
    Earlier this month, the company was contracted to locate deceased personnel that were part of an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Although the water provided zero visibility, the submersibles used high-resolution sonar to complete the task.
    In February, Ferguson's business plans to work on an airplane crash near Venezuela. These were just a few of about 100 dives Insite completed in 2012.
    “Those were fantastic jobs for the company,” Ferguson said. “Typically, newer companies wouldn't be given such tasks like that, but we've surrounded ourselves with people who are very successful in the industry. I truly feel we're blessed.”
    Local ties
    The company, which is more than two-year-olds, is quickly growing. While it began with two submersible vehicles, it now uses nine and three more are possibly in the future.
    Ferguson, the president, said McPherson residents always have been intrigued by the fact that someone from the area is involved with subsea business at all.
    “It's something McPherson residents aren't used to,” he said. “They're not used to having a direct segue into the world of 10,000 feet below the water.”
    When he is in the area, he enjoys doing public lectures and using other avenues to let people know about work they wouldn't normally hear about.
    “I want to keep people informed. I want to educate the public on the fascinating things that are out there,” he said. “In my mind, it makes the community much more diverse. I enjoy doing it.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The McPherson native said his family always has believed in being a community contributor. That's why he continues to look into opening an inland Insite office in town that would support what the company does nationally. Its centralized location would allow easy access to work in the U.S.
    Although heightened tax rates have limited him so far, Ferguson said he would want to make this addition within the next couple of years.
    “One of my goals is to help bring a new and exciting industry to McPherson to help put it on the map,” he said.
    Work in the U.S. is something he hopes will continue to expand in the near future. Much of his diving expansion now must be done in other countries and with foreign workers, unless U.S. drilling permits are released.
    “My business is tied very strongly politically, especially being tied to the oil and gas market,” he said, adding he must often hire foreign workers. “That's troubling to me, especially as a former marine. My first thought is to preserve what we have in America.” Ferguson is optimistic about growth in the U.S. and abroad, however.
    “I see my business growing considerably,” he said. “I foresee some good things. I'm optimistic people are going to understand that you can't go completely over to green energy right away. In the meantime, we need to continuously work with offshore drilling and make it safer and more efficient.”
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