Heddle Shipyards operates the largest number of shipyards and dry docks in Canada. We have been in continuous operation since 1987 and we are expanding.

Heddle Shipyards has operated shipyards in Canada for over 30 years. Our success is based on our commitment to safety, hard work and innovative thinking.

With facilities across the Great Lakes and East Coast, Heddle Shipyards is on course to be recognized as the most reliable provider of ship repair services in Canada. We strive to exceed industry standards for quality, health and safety and build meaningful and consistent relationships with our customers, suppliers, partners and employees.

Our core business is ship repair and maintenance. We also offer a range of complimentary Vessel Lifecycle Services, from new builds to  vessel recycling. We excel in Heavy Industrial Fabrication Services as well as Project Support Services. We are ISO 9001:2015 Certified.

Over the past 30 years, we have built a team of experts that are capable of  solving complex repair and maintenance projects. We have leveraged our skills, experience and expertise to diversify our business and earn long-term customers in various industries, including Offshore Energy, Civil Infrastructure, Marine Infrastructure and Resource Extraction (i.e. fish farming, mining & forestry etc.).

Over the years, Heddle Shipyards has proven that they are always there to do the job when needed—and do it right as well.

Sylvain Trembley, Desgagnes, Vessel Superintendant

Our History

Heddle Shipyards, previously Heddle Marine Service Inc., was founded in 1987 by Rick Heddle with nothing more than a welding machine on a quayside in Hamilton, Ontario.

Over the past three decades, Heddle Shipyards has grown to be the largest operator of shipyards in Canada. This growth has culminated in the recruitment of a professional management team and the rebranding of all of the entities in the group under the consolidated Heddle Shipyards brand. 

The Heddle viking ship logo, which served us well for over 25 years, has been retired and replaced by our new logo: the silhouette of a ship in our dry dock.

The Early Years

In 1987, Rick Heddle started a humble ship repair company that focused on topside repair work for local Hamilton harbour staples such as McKeil Marine’s harbour tugs and the Hamilton Energy tanker. It was not long before Mr. Heddle had to hire several welders and pipe fitters to help with the expanding business, and Heddle Marine Services Inc. began in earnest.


As the relationship between Heddle and McKeil progressed through the years, it was recognized by both Rick Heddle and Blair McKeil – the patriarch of McKeil Marine – that a dry dock asset in Hamilton Harbour would be a benefit for both companies. Subsequently, in 1989 the two entrepreneurs joined forces and purchased five identical rail car barges from the Detroit River area and converted them into the 3000T capacity HM1 dry dock still in use today.


Continued success and expansion brought with it the need for a second, larger dry dock and in 1996 the HM2 dock was put into service bringing Heddle shipyards total combined lifting capacity up to 9000T.  Like the HM1 dock, HM2 was built from existing barges, one of which was personally salvaged by Mr. Heddle and the Heddle team.


In 2012, Blair McKeil and Rick Heddle formed a partnership with Dennis Thorne and created Heddle Marine Service (NL) Inc. The new venture was the beginning of the first phase of aggressive expansion in the company’s history. 

Mr. Thorne brought with him more than 20 years of experience and shared the same entrepreneurial spirit as Mr. McKeil and Mr. Heddle. Heddle Marine Service (NL) Inc. quickly established itself as a leading ship repair company on the East Coast & in the Canadian Arctic. In 2015, Heddle was awarded multiple contracts related to the construction of ExxonMobil’s Hebron Gravity Based Structure. Heddle Marine Service (NL) Inc. grew to over 100 employees as a result of the Hebron project, which became the single largest project in our company’s history. Today, our East Coast division continues to service the offshore energy sector and perform repairs from Kugaaruk in Nunavut to Thunder Bay, Ontario and everywhere in between.


The second phase of expansion began in 2016, when Heddle purchased the Thunder Bay Shipyard facility which includes one (1) graving dock, a large fabrication shop and a large machine shop. Strategically, the purchase of the Thunder Bay Shipyard was important to Heddle’s sustained growth in the Great Lakes market because the shipyard’s location allows Heddle to service existing customers in the Upper Great Lakes region and it will allow Heddle to gain potential new customers that operate exclusively in the Upper Great Lakes region. 

In June of 2017, Heddle finalized a long-term lease for the Port Weller Dry Dock facility in St. Catharines, ON. The facility has two (2) graving docks, a large fabrication shop and a large machine shop. The long-term lease of the facility is strategically important because the facility will allow Heddle to realize its strategic vision of becoming the leading repair, maintenance and overhaul service provider on the Great Lakes. 

Positioning for the Future

In 2018, Heddle Shipyards implemented the first phase of a long-term succession plan to ensure the continued success of the company. 

Owner and founder, Rick Heddle, became the Chief Operating Officer, and Shaun Padulo was appointed as President in June of 2018. Veteran Joe D’Achille was appointed as the Vice President of Tendering to ensure a solid backlog of work. A Vice President of Finance & Chief Financial Officer Erick Begin, was hired in October of 2018 and a Vice President of People and Culture, Patricia Reles, was hired in March 2019. Dennis Thorne, a part owner and President of our East Coast division, has been instrumental in integrating the East Coast division with our Great Lakes division by supporting major dry-docking projects in Port Weller, Hamilton and Thunder Bay. Trevor Troake, Vice President of our East Coast division, continues to manage and expand our operations on the East Coast.

With a renewed focus on quality and competitive positioning, the Executive Team leads the way for Heddle Shipyards to be recognized as the most reliable provider of ship repair services in Canada. 

Our growing project services division brings additional stability to what traditionally has been a largely seasonal industry. Our mission is to exceed industry standards for quality, health, safety, and environmental stewardship, and to build meaningful and consistent relationships with our customers, suppliers, partners and employees.

Heddle Shipyards has been a big part of McKeil Marine’s growth and success for the past 30 years.

Paulo Pessoa , McKeil Marine Ltd., Vice President, Commercial

Our Community

Heddle Shipyards is committed to a strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. We consider it a priority to give back to the communities where we operate and to support our employees and their families.

Through our CSR principles of respecting the environment, making a positive difference in the community and engaging employees in healthy choices, we aim to be a meaningful contributor to our society. 

Our CSR program focuses on:

  • Employees
  • Environment
  • Military
  • Education
  • Community

Heddle Shipyards proudly sponsors

Our principal charitable activities center on initiatives that matter to our employees, the environment, military veterans, educational initiatives for our employees and their families, and initiatives that positively impact our communities at large.

Heddle Shipyards not only commits to funding programs, but also encourages our employees to donate their time through volunteering.

Our Mission

Heddle Shipyards is a Canadian-owned marine-based services provider founded in 1987.

We create value by finding solutions to complex build, repair, maintenance and conversion projects

Our Vision

To be recognized as the most reliable provider of ship repair & maintenance services in Canada and to become a meaningful partner in the shipbuilding industry.

We will exceed industry standards for quality, health, safety, environmental stewardship – all of which propel us to enduring relationships with customers, suppliers, partners and our people.

Our Values

We Live Safely

Safety is our most important project every day. Everyone goes home at the end of their shift – period.

We Value our People

Our people are the key to our success. We empower our employees so that they can maximize their potential. 

We Solve Complex Challenges for our Customers

Our customers are the reason that we are in business. We thrive on providing solutions to their complex challenges.

We Value Mettle

Our work is hard, so we employee men and women who are not afraid of hard work.

We Protect the Environment

Our future is dependent on a sustainable existence. We employ environmentally sustainable practices to improve the efficiency of our operations and to help our planet.

Heddle Marine has offered timely, efficient and unique solutions for McAsphalt Marine over the last two decades.

Andy Mitchell, McAsphalt Marine

Client Testimonials

At Heddle Shipyards, we thrive on solving complex challenges for our customers. 

Over the past 30 years we have been fortunate to work with some incredible customers. Find out what our customers are saying about us:

Heddle Marine has offered timely, efficient and unique solutions for McAsphalt Marine over the last two decades. When our vessels attend Heddle yards, we have a high comfort level that Heddle will attempt to get our vessels back to work on our schedule.

Drydocking is a stressful time for owners and Heddle Shipyards helps alleviate the stress by keeping the information and timelines flowing to the owner’s onsite representatives.

Andy Mitchell
McAsphalt Marine

Over the years, Heddle Shipyards has proven that they are always there to do the job when needed—and do it right as well. They’re always willing to accept any challenge we propose. I first worked with them in 2004 as chief engineer of MT Véga Desgagnés during a one-month dry docking at their installation in Hamilton. During the vessel stay at their premise, they did all the work we requested but most importantly, they did it at a competitive price and on time. 

It is without hesitation that I recommend them to anyone needing their expertise to do repair on time and on budget and done right. They are experienced and will accept any challenge.

Sylvain Trembley
Desgagnes, Vessel Superintendant

Heddle Shipyards continues to provide quality and efficient repair and maintenance services to the domestic and international vessels that trade the Great Lakes. With ship repair and service facilities in various locations around the Great Lakes, Heddle Shipyards is able to react to our clients needs. Peace of mind for ship owners and efficient repair services are vital to the fluidity of the St Lawrence Seaway system and as traffic volumes through the system grow, we will look to Heddle to help service the commercial vessel fleet.

Bruce Hodgson
St Lawrence Seaway Management Corp, Director Market Development
Heddle Shipyards has been a big part of McKeil Marine’s growth and success for the past 30 years. Heddle Shipyards’ ability to react quickly to our needs has been instrumental in saving us time and money. Heddle’s quality and their customer service enables McKeil to bid on complex projects that involve work being done not only on our own equipment but also directly for our customers – this is how much confidence we have in Heddle’s ability to get the work done on time and on budget.
Paulo Pessoa
McKeil Marine Ltd., Vice President, Commercial

Over the years, Heddle Shipyards has proven that they are always there to do the job when needed—and do it right as well.

Sylvain Trembley, Desgagnes, Vessel Superintendant

Executive Team

The Executive Team at Heddle Shipyards is responsible for executing on the long-term vision and strategy for the company.

The executive team consists of a balanced mix of Heddle veterans and recent additions to the team that have a strong track record of success.

Rick Heddle, Chief Operating Officer

Rick Heddle is the founder, owner and Chief Operating Officer of Heddle Shipyards.

Since 1987, Rick has owned, operated and grown his namesake company, from a two-person start-up to a multi-location corporation employing more than 100 permanent, fulltime employees.

An accomplished entrepreneur with more than 25 years of leadership experience, Rick has significant expertise in the technical aspects of running shipyards, including logistics and managing production.

Rick is both a certified millwright and hoisting engineer with extensive knowledge in vessel production and machinery, along with comprehensive experience in fabrication and engineering.

Shaun Padulo, President

Shaun Padulo joined Heddle Shipyards in 2017 and assumed the role of President in June 2018.

Shaun brings 10 years of experience in the marine and offshore contracting sectors. Starting his career as a deckhand on tugboats sailing on the Great Lakes, Shaun departed Canada in 2011 and held various commercial roles for the Dutch firms Dockwise Shipping B.V. and Boskalis Offshore B.V. 

During his time at Dockwise, Shaun lived and worked in the Netherlands, where he specialized in logistical management as well as the transportation and installation of offshore production structures. While at Boskalis, Shaun lived and worked in Houston, Texas, and focused on offshore installation projects, offshore decommissioning projects and subsea inspection, repair and maintenance projects.

Shaun is an alumnus of the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and McMaster University in Hamilton. Shaun holds a Master of Science in Maritime Economics and Logistics.

As President, Shaun leads the Executive Team and is responsible for developing, communicating and implementing the company’s strategic plan, culture, values and vision. 

Erick Begin, Vice President Finance & CFO

Erick Begin joined Heddle Shipyards as Vice President of Finance & Chief Financial Officer in October 2018. 

Erick is a CPA, CMA and also holds an MBA (Finance). With over 15 years’ experience in senior leadership positions, he has worked across a variety of industries, including heavy equipment fleet management, manufacturing and financial services. 

Erick has led successful business turnarounds, acquisitions and integrations, divestitures, and system and business process transformations.

As Vice President of Finance & CFO, Erick oversees the Finance, Procurement and Information Technology functions.

Patricia Reles, Vice President People & Culture

Joining Heddle Shipyards as Vice President People & Culture in March 2019, Patricia Reles brings significant energy and expertise to this newly created position. 

A seasoned human resource professional, Patricia has more than 15 years of experience specializing in highly industrial facilities across North America. Starting her career in the construction sector, she has since worked in the energy, steel, rendering and food grade industries at multiple levels of management.

Patricia has led multi-national teams of Human Resources and Safety professionals working toward globally recognized standards. She holds a globally recognized International Human Resource designation, a Human Resource Law Certificate from Osgood Law School and is a graduate of Niagara College.

Patricia has continued her education into the Environmental, Health & Safety and Quality fields and has earned Certificates in Environmental Engineering. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for Victim Services Niagara in the Niagara Region, is a current member of the Human Resource Professional Association and the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering and has participated on several advisory committees at Mohawk College.

At Heddle Shipyards, Patricia leads the human resources team, oversees our Quality, Health, Safety, Environmental and Security programs and works to building an engaging corporate culture in all the communities where we operate.

Joe D’Achille, Vice President Tendering

Joseph D’Achille is the Vice President of Tendering at Heddle Shipyards.

Joe has spent his 32-year career in the shipbuilding, ship repair and refit sectors. He has served in a number of positions including operational, project management, contracts administration and executive management.

Experienced in the complete marine sector, spanning the naval, coast guard, oil and gas, ferry, cruise line and commercial shipping markets, Joe now leads our Heddle tendering team.

Dennis Thorne, President East Coast

Dennis brings more than 25 years of marine experience to the Heddle Shipyards Senior Management Team.  He began his sailing career in the early 1990’s as an engineer with the Canadian Coast Guard, during which time he was involved in many search and rescue operations.  After leaving the Coast Guard in 2001, Dennis sailed as a Chief Engineer on a number of vessels for Atlantic Towing until he took a shore position as a Project Superintendent.  In this role, Dennis was involved in a number of different projects including the building of the Atlantic Oak & as superintendent for their AHTS Program.

After leaving Atlantic Towing, Dennis continued to diversify his marine experience and was involved in many different sectors of the maritime industry.  The following are just some of the key highlights of Dennis’s career:

  • Operations Manager of Northern Transportation Company Limited: Dennis was involved with the building and delivery of the NT 12,000, a 12,000 DWT flat deck cargo barge in Batam, Indonesia.  While at NTCL, Dennis rose to the position of Vice President.
  • Engineer and Warranty representative for two new built 80-meter Damen Ferries
  • Rebuild and Retrofit of the Ice Class AHTS Alex Gordon 
  • Established and oversaw the management of a marine terminal for Agnico Eagle Gold Mine (Baker Lake, NT)
  • Oversaw the management of a bunker barges for Esso in Halifax

Dennis joined the Heddle organization in 2012 as the president & partner of Heddle Marine Service (NL).  In this role, Dennis is responsible for the overall management of the three east coast facilities.  Dennis is not only responsible for the operational side of the business, but he is also responsible for tendering and business development.

Dennis is a graduate of the Canadian Coast Guard Marine Engineering Program and he also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Technology from the University College of Cape Breton.  He has also furthered his education by attending Finance and Leadership courses at Queens University and a Shipyard Contract course through Fisher Maritime.

May 4th, 2020


As the global situation concerning COVID 19 continues to develop, the health and safety of our employees, suppliers, customers and their families remains our top priority. To date, no Heddle employee has tested positive for COVID 19. We will continue to keep our people informed on any developments through postings and information sessions. Also, we will provide regular updates on our social media accounts because townhall sessions are no longer possible. We will continue to react to this changing situation taking guidance and direction from Provincial and Federal health and government officials.

Heddle Shipyards has been deemed an essential service. We are an important service provider to the marine industry which is a vital lifeline to the Canadian economy. To date, no Federal or Provincial recommendation to cease business operations has been issued and Heddle Shipyards intends to remain operational until such a recommendation is made. Our business and the re-delivery of our customers vessels remains critical to ensuring the health of trade and commerce in Ontario and Canada. Our business also supports the livelihoods of our people and so we are doing everything that we can to stay open without compromising safety. We will evaluate this decision daily as the situation evolves.

Heddle Shipyards has implemented a number of policies and procedures to protect our people, suppliers and customers. These initiatives include:

  1. The creation of a COVID-19 Response Team
  2. Enforcing Screening measures (i.e. questionnaires, infrared temperature scanning and
    interviews) for anyone entering one of our shipyards.
  3. Hiring dedicated personnel to disinfect high traffic areas in the shipyards continuously.
  4. Educating and enforcing physical distancing.
  5. Educating and encouraging increased personnel hygiene
  6. Communicating our new policies and procedures to all employees

Heddle Shipyards is continually monitoring the situation and is responding to new information on an hourly basis. We will continue to adapt to new directives from public health officials and escalate preventative measures as the circumstances change.

Shaun Padulo
President Heddle Shipyards