Two Who Made a Difference

The Containerization and Intermodal Institute chose well in selecting recipients of awards at CII’s annual New York-New Jersey luncheon.

R. Kenneth Johns, CEO of R.K. Johns Associates and longtime Sea-Land executive, received CII’s Connie Award. Washington attorney Stanley O. Sher was presented the organization’s lifetime achievement award.

The biggest surprise was that Johns and Sher, with a combined total of more than 100 years in the industry, hadn’t already been honored by CII.

Containerization wouldn’t have taken off the way it without being properly sold to customers, or without the development of a supporting system of laws, regulations and commercial practices. Johns and Sher played big roles.

Ken Johns signed on as containerization pioneer Malcom McLean’s first management trainee immediately after graduating from Auburn University. Johns helped sell sometimes doubtful customers on containerization, rose to president of Sea-Land Service and has remained a respected industry leader.

Stan Sher’s impact was on the legal/regulatory side. A founding partner of Sher & Blackwell, which merged with Cozen O’Connor last year, he has represented ocean carriers since 1960. Along the way he’s been involved in virtually every major legislative, regulatory and judicial development affecting the industry over the last 50 years, including the 1984 Shipping Reform Act and 1998 Ocean Shipping Reform Act.

Accepting his award, Sher contrasted containerization’s comparatively peaceful legal climate today with the turmoil and controversy that prevailed during containerization’s formative years of the 1960s and 1970s.

Johns cited the industry’s need for deeper harbors and improved rail connections to handle larger ships, and said beleaguered container ship lines need rate stability to generate the profit they need for continued investment.

“We need something to stabilize the pricing system,” Johns said. “Today it’s a spot market – the rate that exists today doesn’t exist tomorrow. How can you build a business on that if you are a carrier, or if you are a customer?”

-- Contact Joseph Bonney at Follow him on Twitter @josephbonney.

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