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Port hires external affairs vice president, deals with cargo rerouting from flooding

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By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Nov. 18, 2015

The S.C. State Ports Authority has hired a replacement for Catherine Templeton, who left the agency in October after about a month on the job.

As the new senior vice president of external affairs, Clint Eisenhauer will oversee the maritime agency’s public and media relations, government affairs, community outreach and education programs.

Previous coverage:

The ports authority is now searching for a senior vice president of human resources. Ports authority President and CEO Jim Newsome planned to combine the human resources and external affairs positions into one as part of his plan to restructure the agency’s departments. Following Templeton’s departure, Newsome will have six direct reports rather than five.

Newsome said he had nothing new to add regarding Templeton, except to say, “The port was not a good fit for her ... and I have great respect for her.”

Eisenhauer will begin Nov. 30. The board unanimously approved a $190,000 salary for him today, Newsome said after the meeting.

Eisenhauer’s background includes working in advertising for 18 years, as vice president of marketing and communications at SeaLand and as the founder of a public relations firm in Charlotte. Since 2005, Eisenhauer headed government affairs for the Maersk Group in Washington, D.C., until he retired earlier this year and returned to Charleston.

Newsome said he is excited to bring Eisenhauer on board: “His expertise in the shipping industry and extensive experience in government affairs and corporate communications make him a valuable addition to our senior team and a strong mentor for the positions reporting to him.”

The board met today at Michelin in Lexington to present the findings of a recent University of South Carolina study that shows the port’s economic impact on the Midlands.

The statewide findings, which were released last month, show that port operations generated $53 billion in annual economic output. The board will round out its traveling board meetings with a Dec. 16 event in Timmonsville.

Rail update

BMW cars, along with other cargo, have been rerouted for more than a month after October’s flooding destroyed a bridge in Columbia. Norfolk Southern uses the bridge that runs over the Broad River to move freight between the Upstate and the Lowcountry.

Norfolk Southern made an alternative route from Greer to Charlotte available. BMW moved cars on that route, avoiding the damaged bridge, and then on to Columbia and Charleston. Some of the cars were also trucked to the port.

Newsome said some of the cargo might have been rerouted to other ports.

“I don’t think that lasted for long, if they did it at all. We all got on top of it. ... But we probably saw some diversion,” Newsome said.

The bridge is expected to be rebuilt and back online by Nov. 30, which Newsome called a “herculean result.”

“This was not an insignificant rail trestle that got wiped out in the flooding,” Newsome said. “Norfolk did a great job re-establishing rail service within a week when it started rerouting trains.”

Port board votes

The board unanimously approved:

An expansion of BMW’s Site Operations Center in Greer. The board authorized construction of the center in February, and today it approved construction of an additional facility adjacent to the center. The ports authority, which owns BMW’s land, will manage procurement and construction for BMW. The S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development will fund the $4.5 million project. The project is expected to be complete by December 2016.

The purchase of a $300,000 empty container handler from Kalmar. The previous machine was damaged beyond repair in a fire in May caused by mechanical failure, board documents show.

The purchase of a disk storage system from HPT for $780,000. The existing disk storage is at the end of its life and additional capacity is needed to support systems in the port’s data center, board documents show. The equipment will be installed in January.

Containers, financials

For fiscal 2016 to date, from July through October, the ports authority handled 678,000 20-foot equivalent units, up 7.1% from the year prior. TEUs are the common industry measurement that counts every 20 feet worth of container.

About 383,000 pier containers have come through the ports authority’s terminals in fiscal 2016, up about 6% from the same time last year. Roughly 93,000 of those pier containers came through the port in October.

Around 71,000 passengers have come through the port and 656 ships have docked in fiscal 2016 so far.

The authority reported $15.5 million in earnings for fiscal 2016, up 47% from the same time last year. Operating revenues were $72 million and total expenses were $57 million through Sept. 30.

Crane operators averaged 41 moves per hour for all terminals. Marine terminals averaged turn time of about 23 minutes and the S.C. Inland Port in Greer averaged 13 minutes.

Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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