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American Shipper

GPA reorganizes sales teams

GPA reorganizes sales teams

   The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) said it's reorganizing its commercial sales force in advance of what it anticipates will be a surge in cargo to the U.S. East Coast with the expansion of the Panama Canal by 2014.

      Curtis Foltz, the GPA's executive director, said his agency will create three distinct trade development teams that will focus efforts on ocean carriers, shippers, and industrial developers.

   Foltz said the changes are aimed at making the port more responsive to its various types of customers.

   Cliff Pyron, GPA’s chief commercial officer, will lead the three teams.

   John Wheeler will be senior director of trade development and head the group focused on the needs of carriers of both container and non-containerized cargo.

   The port will conduct a national search, and consider internal candidates, to lead the group that focuses on shipper needs.

   John Petrino will be director of business development, a team that will focus on the needs of property developers, third-party logistics firms, and the real estate departments of major retailers. It will also work with state and local economic development departments, and local communities to find suitable properties for development and business incentives, and deal with issues related to job demographics.

   The reorganization will affect about three dozen GPA employees and overseas agents, and will involve the addition of two positions. No one is leaving the port.

   “We have a great group and this is 100 percent about strengthening the strong performance we have already had and positioning us for what we believe the future needs of our customers,” Foltz said.

   He also noted the port will make improvements to increase container capacity in the Port of Savannah from about 3.5 million TEUs to 6 million TEUs.

Foltz

   Foltz said the port expects the Army Corps of Engineers in the next month to complete economic modeling and make a recommendation on how deep to dredge the Savannah River. GPA has worked with local and state governments to get the main shipping channel deepened from 42 feet to 48 feet. The Corps is also studying options to dredge the river to lesser depths.

   After public review, Foltz said a draft environmental impact statement and recommendations will be sent to federal agencies. He said GPA expects a final “record of decision” to be issued by the Corps between December 2010 and April 2011.

   He said Georgia has set aside $100 million for the dredging project and the Georgia congressional delegation is seeking about $105 million for the project in the coming federal budget.

   A Corps spokesman told American Shipper last year that while the cost of the project would depend on the dredged depth, the cost of a 48-foot channel was estimated at $500 million to $650 million.

      Meanwhile, Foltz said he's optimistic about the outlook for shipping volumes in the coming year. GPA had an increase of 29.7 percent in all cargo types in February, compared to the same month last year and container volumes in February were up 20.6 percent, with container imports increasing 7 percent and container exports up 30 percent.

      Foltz is hopeful that GPA's cargo volumes will remain strong in the coming months, and said 'once we get past mid-year, I think all of us will experience the true test of whether the economy has come back as strong as everyone thinks it has, but I think that is only going to be proven when we get to August, September and October.' ' Chris Dupin

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