A&P 2007 - Dominic J. Taddeo: Architect of Montreal gateway’s container growth

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By Leo Ryan, AJOTQuestion: What port personality in North America is known for sometimes using three languages (English, French, Italian) in the same sentence?
Question: Who has been the longest-serving chief executive, by far, amongst world ports?
Question: What port executive has at the last minute frequently unscrambled the meticulous details arranged for an event by his assistants in order to put his inevitable MY WAY imprint?
Answer to all three questions: Dominic J. Taddeo, who just recently retired after acting as President and CEO of the Port of Montreal since 1984.
His stewardship at the helm of an inland port strategically placed at the doorstep of a continent’s industrial heartland has coincided with tremendous changes in the maritime industry. And associates and peers readily acknowledge that Taddeo has risen to the challenges.
Throughout the years, Montreal has been transformed from what was for long a major grain export port with steadily underused elevators into North America’s premier gateway for purely North Atlantic container cargo, extending its market reach to the US Midwest in particular. With nine of the top 12 world container operators coming into Montreal, box cargo currently represents more than 40% of total throughput of 25 million tons.
Contacted by AJOT, Kurt Nagle, President of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), declared that “Dominic Taddeo has played a major role in strengthening the relationships and sharing of knowledge and experience among ports in the world, through his leadership in the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, the American Association of Port Authorities and the International Association of Ports and Harbors.
“He clearly loves his home port of Montreal, his colleagues in the industry, and the associations serving the industry. Recognizing his significant contributions, AAPA honored him with its Distinguished Service Award at its Convention in Norfolk in October.”
David Watson, President of OOCL Canada, who has known Taddeo for 25 years, paid tribute to “a passionate, charismatic leader and visionary whose powerful drive, articulate attention to detail and customer orientation has delivered ongoing success for the Port of Montreal.”
Observers agree that Montreal’s ascension into the big leagues stems in part from overcoming the draft limitations of the St. Lawrence channels approaching the port – thanks to dredging and the innovative ship designs of naval architects. Equally important, the port has invested more than $450 million since 1980 in the expansion and upgrading of infrastructures while the capital expenditures of the shipping lines for vessels specially geared to the St. Lawrence trades have exceeded $1 billion.
In essence, adjusting to the new realities, the Port of Montreal has emerged as an international trade hub in the forefront of intermodal excellence, leading-edge technology as well as responding to environmental concerns and the high security demands of the post 9/11 era. The port has also been enjoying a climate of labor peace for more than a decade, with current collective agreements extending until 2011 and 2012.
Armed with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Loyola College in 1959, Taddeo did not enter the marine industry until joining the McLean Kennedy steamship agency in Montreal, where he was eventually appointed Controller in 1972.
“This was my introduction to the world of shipping, and I found it fascinating,” Taddeo said in an interview.
There was no looking back. A big opportunity soon surfaced when in September, 1974 he joined the Montreal Port Corporation as Director of Finance under the then General Manager, Nicholas Beshwaty.
“The first thing I did,” Taddeo said, “was to re-organize the finance department with a structured system.”
With costs well under control, the port has reported a profit for 27 consecutive years since 1980.
UNIQUE TOUCHAnother matter that Taddeo decided to tackle as soon as h

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American Journal of Transportation