Our History

Our History

A Family Legacy that transcends generations.

In 1957, when Raymond Pearlson invented the very first shiplift system in Miami, Florida, and later patented the idea and called it “Syncrolift”, he didn’t know the impact that his invention would have on the generations that followed. Leadership has passed from his son, Douglas Pearlson who joined the company in 1967, to the addition of his granddaughter, Kelly Pearlson Fraind in 2008. Between 1957 and today, more than 280 shiplift installations have been designed and built under the leadership of the Pearlson Family.

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The Beginning

In 1953, Mr. Raymond Pearlson, a Naval Architect and Marine Engineer, was employed by a small shipyard in Miami, Florida, to take over responsibility for the construction of a 300-ton lifting capacity boatlift and transfer system using technology that was known at that time. His experience building this facility gave Mr. Pearlson the opportunity to develop an innovative drydocking concept using simple electro-mechanical components which overcame the inherent limitations of lifting capacity and size.

Photo Credit: Merrill-Stevens Shipyard

The Modern Shiplift is Born

In 1957, Mr. Pearlson invented and built the first shiplift system with a lifting capacity of 100 tons, and in 1958, formed Pearlson Engineering Company (PECO) to further the development of his invention. In 1967, his son Douglas began working for PECO while attending the University of Michigan. After graduating with a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Douglas joined the firm full time in 1971.

Photo Credit: Bertram Yachts

PECO is Acquired by NEI

In July of 1979, PECO was acquired by Northern Engineering Industries (NEI), a British engineering group that later became part of Rolls-Royce plc. Following the acquisition, Mr. Douglas Pearlson was promoted to President of PECO and named to the Board of Directors of NEI Clarke Chapman Ltd.

Pearlson Engineering Company, Inc. (PECO) was renamed “NEI Syncrolift, Inc.” in 1986.

Photo Credit: Todd Pacific Shipyard

The Founding of Pearlson & Pearlson, Incorporated

In 1990, after leaving NEI, Douglas and Raymond founded Pearlson & Pearlson Incorporated, a shipyard consultancy specializing in drydocking and transfer systems.

Photo Credit: BAE Systems – Barrow-in-Furness

The Shiplift Legacy is Re-Born

In 2008, when Rolls-Royce® closed the Miami headquarters of their shiplift business, Douglas Pearlson founded Pearlson Shiplift Corporation and recruited his team of former PECO shiplift engineers and technical support specialists to respond to requests from shipyard owners and operators to expand and support their shipyard and ferry ramp facilities with new shiplift equipment, spare parts, training and inspection services, continuing the legacy that created the modern shiplift.

Photo Credit: Abeking & Rasmussen

The Future of Shiplifting is Limitless

With recent orders for twelve (12) new shiplift systems, including four (4) facilities to support the Superyacht Repair and Refit Industry, as well as the Largest Shiplift System in both North & South America in support of the U.S. Navy, Pearlson Shiplift Corporation continues its legacy as the premier choice for shipyards all around the World.

Recent orders include a 25,000T Shiplift System for BAE Systems Jacksonville Ship Repair (BAEJSR) and an 18,000T Shiplift System for Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.

Photo Credits: MB92, QFZA, RMK Merrill-Stevens, Savannah Yacht
Our History Continued

Over 70+ Years of Supporting Shipyards

From 1953 – 2024, the Pearlson Family’s  commitment to supporting the shipbuilding and ship repair community has been unwavering. Whether it be through shipyard design, master planning, consultancy, feasibility, or the design and build of a new shiplift and transfer system, our knowledge and expertise in the field is unmatched.