Virginia Port Authority CEO retiring next March
John Reinhart made announcement at Tuesday board meeting
John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, which oversees the Port of Virginia, announced at a board meeting Tuesday that he plans to retire in March 2021.
“A lot of thought went into this decision, but when I consider the growth and maturity of this organization and the level of professionalism and dedication of the port team, I am very confident in the long-term future of The Port of Virginia,” Reinhart said in a statement. “This port has made tremendous progress during the past six years and we should be proud of what we have accomplished. Our brand is solid, our values guide us and our hard work continues to earn the respect and trust of our customers, partners and stakeholders. This port is going to be an economic force in Virginia for decades to come.”
Reinhart has led the Port for more than six years and has overseen the $700 million expansion of its terminals in Hampton Roads, as well as a dredging project that began last December, part of a program to make the Port of Virginia the deepest and widest port on the East Coast, allowing it to handle more ships and containers. He is only the fourth person to lead the agency.
“The VMA congratulates John Reinhart for his many accomplishments during his time at the helm of the Virginia Port Authority, which have delivered impressive results in increased port business and economic development statewide and have positioned the Port for much more growth in the years to come,” says David White, Virginia Maritime Association executive vice president. “We are grateful to have had leadership at the VPA such as his and John’s retirement is well earned.”
The effort to find the port’s next chief executive will be overseen by a search committee, which will include five Virginia Port Authority board members and an international search consultant. The Virginia Port Authority Board of Commissioners will be responsible for selecting and hiring Reinhart’s replacement.
“We will begin compiling information on candidates as soon as it becomes available,” John G. Milliken, chairman of the Virginia Port Authority Board, said in a statement. “There is going to be a significant amount of research and vetting so that when the board makes its decision, it’s made with absolute confidence. The goal is to find the right individual who is ready to step into the role by the date John has set for his retirement.”
In 2016, Virginia Business magazine named Reinhart its Virginia Business Person of the Year. When he took the helm at the port in 2014, “it was in disarray,” Virginia Business reported at the time. The Port had been bleeding money since the Great Recession, losing $120 million in five years.
Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Stephen Moret tweeted that Reinhart and his team “transformed the port” in just six-and-a-half years, “positioning it to be a modern, highly capable economic driver for many years to come.”
“John has built a first-rate team and has established a culture guided by a clear and compelling set of values,” Moret added in a statement. “He and his team have built the Port of Virginia into one of the most important economic assets in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
At the @PortofVirginia board mtg today, CEO John Reinhart announced he will retire in March.
In just 6.5 years, John & his team have transformed the port, positioning it to be a modern, highly capable economic driver for many years to come.@VAChamber @VAMaritime @VirginiaEDA pic.twitter.com/ZVCRChH8Z4
— Stephen Moret (@StephenMoret) May 19, 2020
During Reinhart’s tenure, the Port of Virginia embarked on its largest capital spending program in its history – nearly $1.5 billion — and the state made its largest one-time investment in the port of $350 million. The agency also started its $350 million dredging project that will create deepest commercial harbor (to 55 feet) and shipping channels on the East Coast by 2024, which will deepen and widen the Norfolk Harbor.
“John Reinhart was the right man at the right time,” Milliken said. “His strength of character, combined with his clear vision and leadership skills, lifted The Port of Virginia from a very low point in early 2014 to its proper role as one of the nation’s pre-eminent commercial gateways. Upon arrival, he focused first on stemming the port’s financial losses and on restoring its credibility in the marketplace. He then reinvented the port from the bottom-up and rebuilt its terminals into modern, semiautomated facilities able to handle the largest vessels calling on the East Coast.”
Reinhart serves on boards including the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Board, the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council, the Hampton Roads Business Roundtable, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Regional Board, the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance and the Nauticus Foundation.
Before joining the port authority in 2014, Reinhart worked for the Maersk shipping company for 23 years, including as CEO of Maersk Line Ltd. from 2000 to 2014.
At Maersk, his first role was in the human resources department. After about six months, he transferred to the maintenance department at Port Newark in New Jersey and within a year was leading that terminal. Here he had his first exposure to the intricacies of terminal operations.
He eventually was promoted to president of Universal Maritime Services, a division of Maersk that ran six U.S. terminals. Under Reinhart’s leadership, the business went from losing $6 million to making money the next year.
Following his time in the sales division, Reinhart joined the integration team, and was named CEO after the company bought U.S.-flag carrier Sealand and moved to Norfolk in 2000.
“John has been an exceptional leader and change agent for the Port of Virginia,” says Devon Anders, president of Mount Crawford-based InterChange Group Inc., a logistics company located within miles from the Port of Virginia, Virginia International Gateway, Portsmouth Marine Terminal and Norfolk International Terminal — and operates throughout the commonwealth. “His private sector experience brought a customer-focused and aggressive strategic plan to position the Port of Virginia for long-term sustainability. His charisma and professionalism became a model for his team in their interactions with stakeholders throughout the world.”
He earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies and political science from Ohio University and his master’s of business administration from the University of Michigan.