Industries Ports/Trade

Port of Virginia reports profitable month, increased cargo

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The Port of Virginia reported on Tuesday a 10 percent increase in cargo volumes in March and its first profitable month since last July.

The port had an operating profit of $150,000, while the cargo handled at the port grew 10.2 percent — or 18,316 TEUs (20-ton equivalent units) compared with March 2012.

The Port of Virginia has reported a total of $120 million in operating losses over the past five fiscal years, according to estimates from the governor’s office.

The announcements came two months after port CEO and Executive Director John Reinhart took leadership of the port and promised a new focus on profitability.

Reinhart has put an emphasis on profitable growth by improving processes for the handling of cargo and its transportation to and from the port.

“It has been a very disciplined, team-oriented approach to stem the losses,” Reinhart said in a statement. “This is just one month, and we need many more just like it and significantly better. Still, this is a beginning, something we can build upon, and reinforce the initiatives underway to rebuild the Port of Virginia. There remain significant systemic challenges that need to be corrected to reduce costs, improve services and velocity across the port.”

Growth in breakbulk (non-containerized) cargo grew 16.5 percent in March. In addition, containers moved by rail increased 5.3 percent, while containers moved to and from the port via barge grew 4.7 percent. The number of vehicle units moved through the port grew 27.9 percent.

The news came less than a week after Gov. Terry McAuliffe replaced five members of the Virginia Port Authority Board of Commissioners, citing the weak financial performance at the port. 

The port’s calendar year-to-date container volumes remain the highest in the port’s history, with 544,629 TEUs. In addition, the cargo volume handled during the current fiscal year is also setting records, with a total of more than 1.7 million TEUs. The current fiscal year goes through the end of June.

Reinhart said that multiple steps will be taken this summer to continue to improve efficiencies of the operations.

“We’re talking about a process of continual evaluation, corrective action, improvement, investment and adaption that will carry the port into the next decade,” Reinhart said. “It is this process that will put us on a sound financial course going forward, but there is a lot of hard work ahead of us to build sustainability.”

Virginia Business interviewed Reinhart in March, soon after he had started his position. Read that here.

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