• ITVI.USA
    15,285.200
    -0.340
    0%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.779
    0.003
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.420
    -0.030
    -0.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,255.990
    -0.630
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    -0.240
    -6.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.950
    -0.020
    -0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.440
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.310
    0.060
    1.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.150
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.950
    -0.100
    -2.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    1.000
    0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,285.200
    -0.340
    0%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.779
    0.003
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.420
    -0.030
    -0.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,255.990
    -0.630
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    -0.240
    -6.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.950
    -0.020
    -0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.440
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.310
    0.060
    1.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.150
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.950
    -0.100
    -2.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    1.000
    0.8%
American Shipper

Port Canaveral’s Walsh steps down as CEO

Tensions related to John Walsh’s leadership style and disparaging remarks about people opposed to plans for growing cargo and a freight-rail connection led the Port Canaveral Commission to seek his removal.

   Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Walsh has resigned under pressure from the port’s executive board, effective Jan. 21, 2016, after he offended members of the public opposed to plans for a freight-rail connection at a board meeting in August.
   According to Florida Today, Walsh referred to some critics of the port, located halfway down Florida’s Atlantic Coast, as “Luddites.” Environmentalists and others have raised questions about one of the proposed routes that would extend a rail line over the Banana River and through the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Some residents were concerned about the potential reduction in their property value from the nearby rail line.
   “Are we going to make those people happy? No. Their own kids can’t make them happy. That’s just the reality, and we have a target on our back. Dogs don’t chase parked cars. They chase ones moving, and this port is moving,” said Walsh, according to the newspaper.
   The rail plan involves taking control of a near dormant rail line that connects the Kennedy Space Center’s industrial area with the Florida East Coast Railway’s main line and extending it a dozen miles to the port. Walsh issued an apology several days after the meeting, but it was not enough to quell public anger, especially since the Brevard County Board of Commissioners had already a non-binding resolution opposing the port’s plan.
   “I made some comments and remarks at our last Port Canaveral Commission meeting that I regret and should not have said,” Walsh said in a statement from the port. “I would like to apologize publicly to members of our community offended by my comments. It was not appropriate of me to get personal or attack those members of the community who oppose port rail or growth strategies. I allowed my frustrations to lead to comments that were inappropriate and I should not have done so. Port Canaveral always has been, is today, and always will be a good steward of the environment and we work closely with all constituents and agencies to assure projects are done responsibly. Again, I am sorry for offending those expressing their opinions and concerns. The Port will continue to work the Surface Transportation Board process and value and consider all public input. Once the STB decision has made decisions on potential routes” a series of public listening sessions will be scheduled.
   The vote to terminate Walsh, who has served as CEO since March 2013, was 4-1. He began his tenure with the port authority in February 2011 serving as deputy executive director of infrastructure, construction, and real estate.
   “It has been a pleasure to lead such amazing growth in cruise, cargo and real estate,” Walsh said Wednesday. “I will leave next year knowing this place is better than when I arrived here and set up for great success in all business lines. I surely will miss the incredible port staff and our customers in cruise and cargo.”
   Walsh’s offending comments apparently added to growing dissatisfaction with his behavior by the Port Commission, tenants and the public, according to reports from Florida Today.
   During his tenure as CEO, Walsh has made cargo growth a priority for Port Canaveral, which is the second largest cruise port in the United States.
   Earlier this year, the Central Florida port opened its first container terminal, although to date it has no carrier customers. It also is investing in a distribution center at a logistics park currently under construction in nearby Titusville to attract shippers with breakbulk and container cargo shipments.
   Port Canaveral has also pursued automotive business for the first time and last year signed a one-year lease with a new tenant that ships scrap metal to Turkey. Earlier this week, ocean carrier NYK announced it would begin calling at Canaveral on a monthly roll-on/roll-off service formerly operated by Eukor that will transport automobiles to Central and South America.
   The Port Commission has not named Walsh’s successor.
   Read more about Port Canaveral’s ambitious cargo plans in the September 2014 American Shipper feature, “Canaveral ready for blast off,” and the August 2015 Container Analytics column “Too many Florida container ports?

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