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Port of Virginia names new CEO

A West Coast industry veteran with decades of experience in the global transportation industry will be the new chief executive officer and executive director to lead the Virginia Port Authority.

Stephen Edwards, most recently the president and chief executive officer of TraPac, which operates container terminals in Los Angeles, Oakland and Florida, will begin his tenure Jan. 19, 2021, at the country’s fifth-largest port. He will be the port authority’s fourth executive director and chief executive officer in its nearly 50-year history.

Commission chair John Milliken praised the tenure of outgoing executive director and chief executive officer John Reinhart. It was one of numerous accomplishments, including securing the port’s position as a maritime industry leader by modernizing its infrastructure while rebuilding its reputation, brand and competitiveness, Milliken said, while noting that the port has also made investments in land- and water-side infrastructure, equipment and technology.

“Under his leadership, we made significant investments to deliver world-class service to our customers and to the cargo owners,” Milliken said.

But in moving forward, Milliken said that while there were numerous well-qualified candidates, Edwards stood out.

“The choice was clear,” Milliken said. “It was quick and it was unanimous among the five-person search committee.”

Gov. Ralph Northam said Edwards would build on the port’s strong position in taking it into the future while maintaining its status as a powerful economic engine for the state and helping the state attract new businesses.

The port has achieved record-setting volumes for six years in a row and is nearing completion of an $800 million expansion to increase its capacity by 40%.

“Stephen is taking the helm of a 21st-century port, a port that is the fifth-largest in our nation, and one that will soon again be the deepest on the East Coast,” Northam said.

Milliken praised Edwards for his vast knowledge of the maritime industry and said the port’s board has made it clear that economic growth is the primary job for Edwards as he succeeds Reinhart.

“He has a wealth of experience in the industry, and a record of leadership and success,” Milliken said of Edwards. “He’s worked around the world and on both coasts, he has ship line experience, he has a long record of leading terminal operations and a deep understanding of the industry.”

As TraPac’s president and chief executive officer, Edwards has been in charge of its overall performance, focusing on safety, service and sustainability.

Before his role at TraPac, Edwards was the chief executive officer of Global Container Terminals, which has two container terminals in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada and container terminals in New York and New Jersey. He has also served as president and chief executive officer of Ports America Group, president and chief executive officer of P&O Ports North America and has held senior positions with P&O Nedlloyd/P&O Containers.

Shannon Valentine, the state secretary of transportation, said Edwards combines operational expertise, strategic thinking and a thorough knowledge of global markets. She said with Edwards, the Port of Virginia has the opportunity to be the most competitive port in the world.

One of the three finalists for the position, Edwards said he will be able to build off a solid foundation that people can do business with the Port of Virginia and get good service. He described the port as “a full enterprise growth opportunity.”

“The takeaway from the process was the clear desire from the board was the continuity of success,” Edwards said.

Doing his own research, Edwards said the port is run well and has strong government support.

“Quite clearly here, I think that the message here is this is taking a platform that’s been built by the team, and advancing that platform. The platform’s a good platform. This is not surgery or turnarounds. This is taking it to the next opportunity to come.”