Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka has been named the recipient of the Containerization & Intermodal Institute’s (CII) 2021 Connie Award.
“As the head of the nation’s largest port, Gene showed unwavering leadership throughout the pandemic by consistently rising to the occasion with innovative solutions to ever-changing challenges,” CII President Steve Blust said.
During the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti named Seroka the city’s first chief logistics officer to help with the procurement and distribution of medical supplies critical to the fight against the coronavirus. Within a month he had brokered a deal with Honeywell for 24 million N95 masks. Garcetti called it a “lifesaving purchase agreement.”
In May, the Port of LA earned the distinction as the first port in the Western Hemisphere to handle more than 1 million twenty-foot equivalent units in a single month. A month later the port became the first in the hemisphere to process 10 million container units in a 12-month period.
“With our sustained focus on supply chain digitization, infrastructure investments and strong business relationships, we have the opportunity to build on this historic milestone,” Seroka said at a celebration.
Industry digitization is one of Seroka’s top missions. “Let’s create the capability to provide secure, real-time data to cargo owners and their transportation service providers, and let’s activate it on a national — even global — scale. This would allow cargo owners, retailers, manufacturers, hospitals, agriculture producers and others to securely interface with multiple systems and get accurate, real-time data to drive their decision-making,” he said during his September 2020 keynote address as part of American Shipper’s Global Trade Tech summit.
The Signal and Return Signal both were rolled out during the pandemic. Seroka unveiled The Signal in early September 2020. Powered by the Port Optimizer, The Signal dashboard shows how many shipments will be arriving at the Port of LA over the next three weeks.
“We need to be able to get containers to our export market, to our ag co-ops and many others and match them up with rail and truck services, the international ships and reintroduce us to our overseas customers,” Seroka said in announcing the launch. “We will be able to help the American economy reemerge as long as we have a coordinated system of efforts through one screen.”
The Return Signal went live in November to help truckers know where and when to return empty containers throughout the San Pedro Bay complex. Seroka said then that the record-breaking cargo levels highlighted the “need to incentivize increased fluidity at the terminal level.”
Seroka has led the Port of LA since 2014. He previously held several managerial positions during a 26-year tenure with APL.
CII has been presenting the Connie Award since 1972 to recognize industry leaders who have made significant contributions to containerization, world trade and the transportation field as well as for their innovative spirit. Past recipients include Ed DeNike, John Wolfe, Capt. S.Y. Kuo, Matthew Cox, Bill Shea and Mike Wilson.
The award will be presented during a luncheon Dec. 6 at the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel in New Jersey. CII said special recognition awards will be given during the event to the International Longshoremen’s Association, United States Maritime Alliance and New York Shipping Association for their dedication to maintaining supply chain fluidity during the pandemic crisis.
“With unwavering professionalism, the ILA, USMX and NYSA represent the very best of our industry and what it means to go above and beyond,” Blust said. “During the crisis, they placed themselves in harm’s way every day to ensure people had access to necessary resources for their daily needs and comfort; they are the unsung heroes that deserve our recognition and gratitude.”