Our History

DLS Marine was originally founded by Robert “Bob” Stickney as Stickney Marine Surveying in New Orleans in 1968. Mr. Stickney had left Bachrach & Wood Marine Surveyors and Consulting – a lead marine surveying firm in Louisiana and where future DLS Marine Partners, Norm Laskay and Larry Strouse, both worked. Stickney Marine Surveying began in Mr. Stickney’s home with the support of his wife, Jane.    

In 1977, Mr. Stickney hired Norman Dufour, future DLS Marine Partner, as an apprentice marine surveyor. By this time, Stickney Marine Surveying had an office on National Avenue and three surveyors. They provided condition and valuation surveys for the insurance industry, on/off charters, damage and salvage surveys for inland and offshore vessels as well as overflow work for The Salvage Association on blue water vessels. One of their original clients – Dixie Carriers (which later became Kirby Corporation) remains a client to this day.  

Although business was steady in the 1970’s, the effects of the Arab Oil Embargo hit the marine industry hard in the 1980’s. Business had dropped by 75% and Stickney Marine Surveying soon decreased to only Mr. Stickney and Dufour.  

In January 1988 the firm was renamed to Stickney, Dufour and Associates when Mr. Stickney and Mr. Dufour became partners.  Sadly, Mr. Dufour’s dear friend and mentor, Bob Stickney, passed away shortly after on March 28, 1988. Mr. Dufour describes Mr. Stickney as having a larger than life personality and is deeply missed.  

From left: Norm Laskay, Wally Shiver and Norman Dufour – early 1990s.

Norm Laskay was the first to join Mr. Dufour and was hired in April of 1988. With surveying work to be done 24/7, Mr. Dufour and Mr. Laskay were on a two-man duty rotation, answering evening and weekend calls. They recall having put 35,000 miles a year on their vehicles driving anywhere needed between Florida, Tennessee and Texas.  

From left: Norm Laskay, Freddie Allemand and J. Ray McDermott on the desk of a Crowley barge as part of a 12-week project for Exxon near Santa Barbara, CA 1992.

In March 1997, Captain Larry Strouse joined the firm as Partner and Vice President, and the firm was renamed to Dufour, Laskay and Strouse or “DLS Marine” as it remains today. Just like Mr. Stickney, Laskay, and Strouse, many of today’s current marine surveyors in Louisiana initially worked at Bachrach & Wood. They refer to John Bachrach and Earl Wood as their professional grandfathers. Based on that lineage and ties within the marine industry, DLS Marine has always upheld its strong foundational beliefs of honesty, accuracy and fairness.  As Mr. Stickney would say, “We can recover from an honest mistake, but we can never recover from a lack of honesty.” 

From left: Norm Laskay, Larry Strouse and Norman Dufour – 1997.

January 2021 marked the 53rd year anniversary from when DLS Marine’s origin, Stickney Marine Surveying, opened in 1968. DLS Marine President Harry Ward, who joined the firm in 2017 is extremely proud of the firm’s reputation and namesake and intends to continue operating to the same high standards as the original owners.  

From left: Norm Laskay, Larry Strouse and Norman Dufour – 1997.