Ports of Indiana today announced that Phil Wilzbacher will retire from the Ports of Indiana, effective April 20. Wilzbacher has led operations of Ports of Indiana-Mount Vernon for 19 years, making him the longest-serving port director in the statewide port authority’s 60-year history.
Wilzbacher called his time with the Ports of Indiana a “huge honor” and is planning to take some time to catch up on personal to-do lists and find his next professional challenge.
“I feel very fortunate to have served as the Mount Vernon port director for 19 years, a good portion of the port’s 45-year history,” said Wilzbacher. “It’s been a privilege to work alongside an exceptional team and to conduct business with our port companies, the southwest Indiana community, other ports and industries throughout the U.S. Inland River System and global markets. The relationships developed over time have become lifelong friendships, and for that, I am grateful.”
Wilzbacher, 63, joined the Ports of Indiana in January 2002. Under his leadership, the Ports of Indiana-Mount Vernon saw record tonnage for five consecutive years, and an overall tonnage growth of 400 percent, which propelled Mount Vernon to the seventh largest inland port in the United States.
Additionally, Wilzbacher and port officials welcomed Valero Renewables, Consolidated Terminals & Logistics Co. (CTLC), American River Transportation Company (ARTCO), Cimbar Performance Minerals, Nutrien and Kosmos Cement. Both Valero and Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. (CGB), two global leaders in ethanol production and soybean processing invested in major plant expansions in recent years. Ports of Indiana-Mount Vernon serves as Valero’s only ethanol plant able to directly load and ship products by barge. Furthermore, the southwest Indiana port is home to CGB’s flagship soybean processing facility, shipping nearly 60 percent of the volume via barge. Both companies create a strong market for agricultural producers in the region and contribute to the milestone tonnage records.
Additional achievements under Wilzbacher’s tenure include:
• Received recognition from USDOT for leadership role in development of Marine Highway Container-on-Barge Service on the Ohio and Upper Mississippi Rivers;
• Expansion of the Mount Vernon port from 745 acres to 1,240 acres;
• Completed nearly $20 million capital improvement projects to attract more cargo and enhance the port’s capabilities; and
• Received Green Marine certification through environmental initiatives along the Ohio River and Upper Mississippi Basin
“Phil’s longtime professional leadership and commitment to the Mount Vernon port, has been foundational to the organization we have become,” said Ports of Indiana CEO Vanta E. Coda II. “His dedication to help grow Indiana’s economy through landmark achievements, infrastructure investments and business partnerships is a remarkable legacy. With deep gratitude we wish Phil the best of luck in his next chapter.”
The Ports of Indiana-Mount Vernon, with its 1,240 acres and 8,000 feet of riverfront, is the state’s largest tonnage port and is the largest public port closest to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, which offers 12-month access to the Gulf of Mexico and, consequently, global markets. The port also provides connections to five Class I railroads and ocean vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. Current port companies ship cargo to or from 20 countries and 44 states.
“Phil has established a solid pathway to the next level future growth and prosperity we aspire to deliver for the Mount Vernon port and Indiana,” said Andrea Hermer, COO of Ports of Indiana. “We appreciate Phil’s commitment to the Ports of Indiana and wish him all the best.”
A search for Wilzbacher’s replacement will begin immediately. Ports of Indiana-Jeffersonville Port Director Jeff Miles will act as interim director of Mount Vernon and Jeffersonville ports until Wilzbacher’s permanent replacement is hired.