A new slate of eight directors was sworn in as new members of the board of the Virginia Port Authority on Tuesday, which will be headed by a new chairman, Michael J. Quillen, CEO and chairman of Alpha Natural Resources, a major U.S. coal exporter based in Virginia.
Quillen and eight other directors were sworn into office as members of the 12-person board that oversees the direction and strategy of the ocean, river and inland ports that are operated by the VPA. The board shake-up was a result of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton's increasing frustration with underperforming Port of Virginia.
The governor on Friday fired 10 members of the board for the East Coast's third-largest container port. The members were appointed by the previous governor, Tim Kaine. The new board consists of experienced business leaders with backgrounds in trade, transportation, marketing and warehousing.
The VPA’s profit-making subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, which operates the ports, had not been generating the kind of revenue the state expected. McDonnell and Connaughton blamed its poor performance on that the previous VPA board had appointed to positions within V.I.T. political allies who knew nothing about business, including five lawyers, a physical therapist and a minister.
"We’re the only port on the East Coast that has not recovered to pre-recession levels,” Connaughton said on Friday.
While cargo volume has returned to pre-recession levels at the port's top competitors in New York and Savannah, Ga., Virginia has lost market share in the last year, posting just 0.9 percent growth in the first six months of calendar year 2011.
The overall number of ships of all kinds that called the various VPA terminals in the first six months of 2011 declined by 4.6 percent to 895 from 938 a year earlier, according to the VPA website, which does not yet post data on container volume or revenue for the year-to-date.
Excluding state Treasurer Manju Ganeriwal, an ex-officio board member, Quillen was the lone remaining member of the former board, having served for seven years. He was elected Tuesday by his peers to serve as chairman.
The newly appointed members of the board are: Jennifer D. Aument, vice president of Transurban; Scott R. Bergeron of Leesburg, chief operating officer of Liberian Registry;James M. Boyd, attorney and president of Boyd & Boyd; Juliann J. Clemente, president of Clemente Development; William H. Fralin Jr. of Roanoke, vice president and general vounsel, Medical Facilities of America; Frank E. Laughon Jr., chairman emeritus of Richmond Cold Storage; John N. Pullen,, president and chief growth officer of Luck Stone;Robert M. Stanton, chairman of Stanton Partners; Jeffrey D. Wassmer, president and CEO of Spectrum Comm; and Ting Xu of Goochland, president and CEO of Plow & Hearth.