Industries Ports/Trade

Retiring executive reflects on successes

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Joe Dorto, the retiring president and CEO of Virginia International Terminals (VIT), expects it to remain the operator of the Port of Virginia despite proposals submitted by two private bidders.

Dorto, speaking to 270 people at the Hampton Roads Global Commerce Council’s annual “State of the Port” luncheon in Norfolk, said the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) board and state officials should consider the other proposals. He believes, however, they likely will determine VIT should continue operating the port.

“I think Virginia owes it to itself to look at bids to make sure it has the best deal,” Dorto said.

“All in all, we are in the best shape to be considered,” he added.

Dorto, who has led VIT for 34 years, listed accomplishments of the VPA-VIT team during this tenure, including the increase in rail volume, the addition of the Virginia Inland Port, growth of distribution centers around the state, creation of the first chassis pool in the country, the signing of long-term contracts with clients and the 20-year lease of APM Terminals’ $500 million marine terminal in Portsmouth.

“I think we crafted one of the smartest deals we ever put together,” Dorto said of the lease of APM.

Dorto also listed points from a study released last week by the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC). It contradicted previous reports critical of port operations that were used by the McDonnell administration to boost support for looking at privatization options.

Dorto did say that VPA and VIT, which were created as two separate entities, need to find ways to streamline operations. For example, he said that both groups had accounting and human resources staff.

“Both staffs are looking at that, and that is what they need to do to be successful,” Dorto said.

Dorto pointed out that the Port of Virginia grew faster than any other East Coast port during 2012, recording the second heaviest cargo volume in its history. He predicted a growth rate of 6 percent for 2013.

Dorto announced Tuesday that he would retire on March 31.  The VPA will appoint Joseph Ruddy, VIT’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, to succeed Dorto at its meeting next week.

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