Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fields Addresses Port Concerns During Luncheon

http://www.gazettes.com/news/business/fields-addresses-port-concerns-during-luncheon/article_c92ad728-426c-11e3-8129-001a4bcf887a.html

By Jonathan Van Dyke, October 31, 2013


  Thomas Fields Greets Crowd
 HOW ARE YOU? Harbor Commission President Thomas Fields greets a crowd at the Hyatt Regency.


Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission President Thomas Fields says he has seen the headlines — but don’t believe everything you read.

He specifically noted an article in the Journal of Commerce called “Turmoil in Long Beach,” which talks about differences in opinion between commissioners in how the port should move forward — mainly in regards to the vacant position of executive director. He spoke during a luncheon on Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency sponsored by the California Trucking Association and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.


The picture accompanying the article had ominous clouds above the harbor. Fields juxtaposed the photo with the a still photo of an alien ship above the White House from the movie “Independence Day.”

“Okay, so it’s not quite that bad,” Fields said with a chuckle. “We’re a headstrong, independent lot. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Democracy is messy. Sometimes it’s like letting a 2-year-old operate a blender without a lid, but in the end, democracy works. It has for the last 200-plus years.

“Yes, we have problems … but we will get it right.”

Fields said that the discussion on who should be the next executive director will be a public discussion, “not dominated by a single voice or group,” and it will include stakeholders, city officials and ordinary citizens.

J. Christopher Lytle left the position in the summer after less than 18 months on the job. He had followed Richard Steinke, who was executive director for 14 years.

“Both men were known throughout our industry as people whose word were their bond,” Fields said. “They gave it and you could take it to the bank. Each of them knew how to build and maintain relationships to bring in business. I want our next executive director to fit in that mold. If I could find a clone, that’s who I would hire.”

So far, the Harbor Commission has commissioned a survey from stakeholders regarding the open position. Staff is expected, at some point, to present the commission with some of the leading executive search firms in the country.

Fields said that during the search he was confident in the people in acting positions at the top of the port. Acting Executive Director Al Moro was the Chief Harbor Engineer and Acting Deputy Executive Director Noel Hacegaba was the Chief Operating Officer.

“There is no one better to direct our $4.5 billion infrastructure program,” Fields said of Moro. “And he’s been a truly calming force for our staff.”

Fields said the port is paying about $2.5 million a day of the $4.5 billion, while only pulling in about $1 million a day.

“We can only do this because of a carefully formulated financing plan, which is leveraged by the future revenues we will receive from customers who have made long-term commitments to our port,” he added, noting circumstances like a 40-year agreement with OOCL.

In regards to market share, Fields said the port wasn’t doing as well as it was about 10 years ago. He noted that Asia containerized import share for the San Pedro ports market have declined from 56.5% to 48% between 2003 and 2012. He also used WalMart as an example — its shipping through the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports decreased from 85% in 2003 to 15% today.

To combat those declines in marketplace share, he said, it would take the continued building of strong partnerships, and he vowed to travel to all of those potential partners in Asia and to company headquarters like WalMart or Lowe’s.

“That’s scary, but it’s not hopeless,” he said.

Shipping companies Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM recently agreed to form the P3 Alliance. Together, the world’s three largest carriers have 14.7% of the total global container fleet.

“They (MSC and CMA CGM) told us in no certain terms they would be drastically cutting down on the number of ports and terminals they sent their ships to,” Fields said, noting it was important to keep upgrading port facilities in the evolving market.

Finally, Fields said when he returns from a two-week trip in Asia, he and staff will be proposing a special committee to advise the board on what can be done to make the port more productive, efficient and more competitive.