‘I am very confident in the long-term future of The Port of Virginia’

The Port of Virginia’s leader of the last six-and-a-half years, John F. Reinhart, will be retiring from his post as chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, effective March 2021. Reinhart made the announcement today at the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) Board of Commissioners’ regularly scheduled meeting.

“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. “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.”

John F. Reinhart
John F. Reinhart

Reinhart’s tenure with the port began Feb. 10, 2014, and he is the fourth person to lead the agency that owns and operates container and multi-use commercial marine terminals on behalf of the state. In this role, he is responsible for the broad programmatic areas of business development and growth, strategic marketing, finance and operations of Virginia’ s marine and inland terminals: Virginia International Gatewa y , Newport News Marine Terminal, Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Port of Richmond and the Virginia Inland Port. He is also responsible for oversight of the port’s privately-held terminal operating company, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT).

Reinhart is the architect behind the resurgence of The Port of Virginia. For nearly two years prior to his arrival, there was consideration of an offer to lease the port’s operating rights to a private entity. While Virginia was deliberating the merits of the offer, U.S. East Coast peer ports invested heavily in their infrastructure and fueled their volume growth. Roughly a year after it was decided that port operation and management would remain in state hands, Reinhart accepted the position and immediately began the process of modernizing the port’s infrastructure and rebuilding the port’s reputation, brand and competitiveness.

“We were operating at a disadvantage and had to regain our competitiveness. The only way to do it was to develop an investment plan and get to work on building a twenty-first century port,” Reinhart said. “Maybe our most important effort was aimed at restoring the faith in this port to our leaders in Richmond. We had to demonstrate to the governor and General Assembly two things: that we were a highly competent team of experienced, creative and capable long-term thinkers and that investing in the port will hold benefits for Virginia’s economy for decades to come.”

As a result of the effort, the port returned to profitability and record-setting cargo volume for six consecutive years. Under Reinhart’s leadership, the VPA/VIT relationship was restructured; the port pushed forward on the largest capital spending program in its history – nearly $1.5 billion; a new leadership hierarchy was implemented; the organization adopted seven core guiding values; the state made its largest one-time investment in the port; the operation adopted a focus on efficiency; and the port embarked on a dredging project that will create deepest commercial harbor and shipping channels on the U.S. East Coast by 2024.

“John Reinhart was the right man at the right time. 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,” said John G. Milliken, chairman of the VPA board.

“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, semi- automated facilities able to handle the largest vessels calling on the East Coast.

“Personally, I have come to trust his word and value his friendship. The Commonwealth owes John Reinhart and Mary, his wife, its most sincere thanks. On behalf of the governor and the people of Virginia, I wish him all the best in whatever he may do in the future.”

The effort to find the port’s next chief executive will be overseen by a search committee, which is comprised of five current VPA Board members, and aided by an international search consultant with a strong network and

global reach. Under Virginia law, responsibility for the selection and hiring of the executive director is vested in the VPA board.

“We will begin compiling information on candidates as soon as it becomes available,” Milliken said. “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.”

Port Milestones, 2014 to Present:

  • Jan. 2020: The Port of Virginia sets a new annual record for container cargo volume having handled nearly 3 million twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, in calendar year 2019, a 3 percent increase over last year’s total.

  • Dec. 2019: The port’s journey to becoming the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast gets underway as dredging begins nearly two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule. When dredging is complete in 2024, Virginia will be home to the deepest commercial port on the U.S. East Coast.

  • Sept. 2019: The 2019 Lloyd’s List Port Management and Infrastructure Americas Award goes to the port for its VIG infrastructure project: a three-year, $312 million investment that reimagined and re- engineered one of the nation’s most modern terminals.

  • July 2019: Following nearly three years of construction, Virginia’s governor and several dignitaries meet at VIG to christen the newly-expanded terminal. The expansion makes the terminal one of the most modern in the Western Hemisphere.

  • Jan. 2018: Work gets underway on the expansion of the NIT South stack container yard. The $375 million project will allow the port to create greater density for cargo at NIT South and expand annual capacity there by 400,000 containers.

  • March 2018: The port introduces the Trucker Reservation System, or TRS, at NIT. The innovative system allows the port to manage truck flow while creating efficiency for terminal operations teams and drivers while providing visibility to cargo owners.

  • Aug. 2017: The biggest container ship to ever come to the U.S. East Coast, the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, makes its first stop in Virginia.

  • April 2017: The federal government approves an innovative agreement allowing the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) and the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) to begin discussing ways the ports can share information in certain operational areas to position themselves as the U.S. East Coast’s leading gateways for containerized cargo.

  • Feb. 2017: Work begins at VIG on a $320 million expansion project that will nearly double the terminal’s annual cargo handling capability. The project is the first of two large-scale expansion projects that, when complete, will combine to increase the port’s overall annual container capacity by 40 percent, or 1 million container units, by 2020.

  • Nov. 2016: The port finalizes its $217 million contract with Konecranes for that company to build and deliver 86 specialized cranes that will be at the center of the port’s expansion projects at VIG and NIT. At its signing, the contract was the industry’s largest one-time order for automated stacking cranes.

  • Sept. 2016: A new, long-term lease for VIG is signed and clears the way for the port to begin work on doubling capacity at the deep-water container terminal.

  • July 2016: The state announces that it will be investing $350 million to expand cargo capacity at NIT South; this is the state’s largest one-time investment in the port.

  • Feb. 2016: The City of Richmond and the port sign a lease enabling the port to continue to its investment in, and operation of Richmond Marine Terminal through 2056. A new mobile harbor crane, the port’s biggest investment-to-date at the growing barge terminal, debuts at the signing ceremony.

  • July 2015: Federal officials, port partners, industry leaders and elected officials gather at NIT to mark the beginning of construction on the North Gate Complex that when complete, will provide 22 lanes of ingress and egress to the terminal’s north side. The project more than doubles the terminal’s total gate capacity.

  • July 2015: The port posts a $16.1 million operating profit for fiscal year 2015—its first operating profit since 2008. The operating profit is a $31.5 million improvement in operating income compared with F Y14.

  • June 2015: The U.S. Army Corps Engineers and the port sign a Feasibility Cost Share Agreement (FCSA) that commits each side to sharing the cost of evaluating the economic benefits deepening of the Norfolk Harbor to a depth beyond 50 feet.

  • Sept. 2014: The port completes the reorganization of its leadership structure and the final member of its Senior Leadership team is installed. Each area of focus: operations, finance, sales, human resources, government affairs, administration, innovation, legal and marketing now has a dedicated leader reporting directly to the CEO.