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APL’s Gene Seroka named Port of Los Angeles executive director

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
May 29, 2014

Gene Seroka, a top executive at American Presidents Lines has been tapped to take over as executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

When his appointment is approved by the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners and confirmed by the City Council in June, he will be quickly ushered into a trial by fire.

Negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers on the West Coast waterfront, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will still be underway, with many industry watchers predicting a labor disruption after the contract deadline on June 30th has passed.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who appointed Seroka yesterday, says he is confident the new director can “enhance efficiency through effective management and labor relations.”

Seroka, currently head of commercial in the Americas Region for APL, will lead a city department with a $1.1 billion budget and approximately 1,000 employees. Nearly 900,000 local jobs and almost 3 million U.S. jobs are linked to the Port of Los Angeles.

Seroka replaces Geraldine Knatz – a capable leader, but one without any prior experience with the ocean carrier community. Gary Lee Moore, the port’s acting executive director, will return to his role as city engineer.

Seroka has been with APL since 1988, and has more than 21 years of experience in container shipping and logistics He joined APL in 1988, previously serving as president of Americas at APL Limited. He also was vice president in the Middle East for APL, vice president of APL Logistics for Asia and the Middle East, managing director for APL and APL Logistics businesses in Indonesia, director of sales and marketing in China, and held sales management and marketing roles in the U.S.

The neighboring port of Long Beach, meanwhile, is still searching for a permanent executive director since its former director, Chris Lytle, moved on to take a job at the Port of Oakland.

Relationships between LA and Long Beach have also been contentious of late. The Los Angeles 2020 Commission issued a recommendation to merge the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last April, and was quickly disabused of the idea by Long Beach authorities.

The two cities are also in a prolonged dispute over the BNSF Railway’s $500-million Southern California International Gateway project, which borders Long Beach neighborhoods and schools. Long Beach is suing Los Angeles over the project.

Despite these complications, Walter Kemmsies, Ph.D. and chief economist for engineering firm Moffat & Nichol, believes the Port of LA is poised for growth.
“It has continued to invest in modernization and new efficiencies,” he says, “which is several years into a decade-long, $4 billion capital improvement program. The port is also active where it can be in trying to find the means to improve efficiencies and productivity at its terminals.”

About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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