Following a thorough and exhaustive national search for a new executive director to replace the much esteemed but retiring Chris Lytle, the Port of Oakland has announced the job has gone to a local resident, Danny Wan.
Mr. Wan had been the port’s interim Executive Director since last summer and before that had been the Port’s attorney for six years. He takes over an organization with three principal businesses: aviation, maritime and commercial real estate.
In addition to seaport, the port controls Oakland International Airport and Oakland’s Jack London Square entertainment district. Among the challenges Mr. Wan will soon be facing is whether the port’s maritime business can co-exist with new neighbors.
Logistics Management: How does the port plan to grow its supply chain infrastructure?
Danny Wan: The Port has significantly beefed up infrastructure scale and efficiency by teaming with business partners. We’ll continue to do that in 2020. An example: CenterPoint Properties will open the first building at our Seaport Logistics Complex next summer. Another example: SSA is bringing some of the nation’s newest and tallest ship-to-shore cranes to Oakland in 2020. And we will grow responsibly. We’ve adopted an Air Quality 2020 and Beyond plan to minimize the impact of increased business volume. We’ve also reached agreement with business partners to ensure local residents get the first crack at new jobs that are being created in the Port. Major changes are underway at our Oakland International Airport, too. We’re overhauling our food and beverage concessions to give travelers a better experience. Improvements like these help us grow business volume. Our partners demonstrate faith in this approach by investing in Oakland’s future.
LM: What are the significant hurdles in this enterprise?
Wan: Oakland’s challenges are familiar across the supply chain: the need to control cost, improve efficiency and manage global trade uncertainty. We’ve also got to plan with Maritime leaders and the City of Oakland to ensure the Port is preserved as an industrial sanctuary. The City and its economy are growing. Residential and commercial development are taking place next door to the Port. We’re well underway with discussions to make sure that this development doesn’t encroach on our operations, inhibit the ability of transportation partners to access the Port, or limit our ability to grow.
LM: What are your forecasts for container throughput in 2020?
Wan: Volume projections remain difficult because of trade conflicts and the possibility of a global economic slowdown. We had envisioned low single-digit growth through the early 2020s but the outlook has become murkier.
LM: What commodities are strengthening on the inbound and outbound sailings?
Wan: Import consumer goods continues to evolve and grow based on needs generated by our strong local economy. For exports, we continue to see strong results for the refrigerated segment as a result of various investments, our strategic location and high-quality products produced by American companies destined for foreign countries with growing economies.
Logistics Management: Can you describe what the port achieved on your recent visit to Asia?
Wan: We met with leading ocean carriers. Their leaders got a chance to hear directly from Port Board members and senior executives about our priorities. The message they were left with: Oakland is a vital international gateway; the Port and its business partners are investing heavily to improve operating performance; we’re gearing up for long-term growth.
LM: Finally, how does the port hope to resolve the Oakland A’s stadium issue?
Wan: The Oakland Athletics have proposed a mixed-use development at the Port’s Howard Terminal. The Port and the A’s have agreed on an Exclusive Negotiation Term Sheet. It gives the A’s up to four years to secure the necessary public agency approvals to proceed with their development. At that point, the Port’s Board could consider entering real estate negotiations to determine if the project can be built. Our guiding principle is to strengthen the Port and maritime industry, add to the vibrancy of our waterfront, and create jobs. A final deal would need to ensure everyone — the City of Oakland, the Port and the A’s — is able to continue to thrive.
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