A new era for the Port of Seattle

Congratulations to the Port of Seattle Commission for their “out of the box” thinking in the choice of Ted Fick as their new chief executive officer.

Mr. Fick will be the first Port of Seattle CEO to come from the private sector in at least a half-century.

The Pacific Northwest ports face multiple competitive threats that are well-known: industry consolidation, bigger ships making fewer port calls, a widened Panama Canal, changing trade patterns and increased competition from ports throughout North America. Both Seattle and Tacoma need to make huge capital investments just to be positioned to be competitive in the container business.

The Port of Seattle (which also includes the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport) needs a strong leader, someone with experience successfully leading large, complex organizations — and someone who is able to think creatively, make tough decisions and take bold risks.

I’ve never met Mr. Fick, but his resume seems to match up pretty well with the port’s needs. He’s got a leadership track record with a variety of large manufacturing companies.

The ability to build and lead a team and to develop and execute a business strategy are traits that are needed in order for the port to stay competitive and relevant.

The fact that he comes from a long-time Tacoma family and started his career at PACCAR may be a plus, as the ports of Seattle and Tacoma continue talking about ideas for how they can collaborate. Mr. Fick would be smart to forge an early and close alliance with the Port of Tacoma’s CEO, John Wolfe, who is widely respected by the international trade community.

Mr. Fick’s appointment is a bold move by the Port of Seattle Commission. We look forward to seeing how he navigates some pretty choppy water ahead.

John McLaurin is president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. Contact him at jmclaurin@pmsaship.com.

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