Posted on February 2, 2021
A bonus worth more than $200,000, a rocking chair to enjoy the view of cranes and cargo, and a who’s who of Virginia elected leaders, business executives and port industry officials.
It was all part of a send-off Tuesday for John Reinhart, the retiring CEO of the Virginia Port Authority who led the agency from the financial brink seven years ago and oversaw significant expansion.
The authority’s board voted unanimously to award Reinhart, among the highest paid executives in the industry, the full performance bonus he was eligible for, which is worth half of his annual salary (most recently $463,500). The board said it considered not just the past year, but the entirety of his Port of Virginia career.
“The transformation has been remarkable,” said board chair John Milliken before proposing that Reinhart be awarded his full bonus, an act Milliken described as “one modest way” to thank the retiring CEO on behalf of the Commonwealth.
The past year had been a difficult one for most if not all ports as first a Chinese trade war and then the pandemic stymied supply chains. Volume at the Port of Virginia dropped 4.2% in 2020 compared with the year prior, to 2.8 million TEUs (or 20-foot-equivalent units). Every category of container volume, except for those transported by barge, fell during the year. Port activity began to pick up, though, by July and broke records in October, November and December, with November volume reaching an all-time high.
“It’s much to Mr. Reinhart’s credit that the port has performed well despite these headwinds,” Milliken said.
Elsewhere, volume dropped 5.2% last year in Charleston, South Carolina, to 2.3 million TEUs, but rose by 1.8% at the Port of Savannah in Georgia to nearly 4.7 million TEUs.
The leaders of both ports as well as Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, business leaders, and military leaders paid tribute to Reinhart in a collection of recorded videos played after Tuesday’s regular Virginia Port Authority meeting.
“Your leadership and legacy have truly made a lasting impact,” Gov. Ralph Northam told Reinhart Tuesday.
In addition to the bonus, the Port of Virginia’s executive staff renamed a 10th floor conference room the John F. Reinhart Conference Room and gave him a rocking chair, to be put outside on a catwalk to overlook port operations, with a plaque affixed to the back noting Reinhart’s vision provided for the physical view and “the art of the possible.”
Reflecting on his port career, Reinhart said that when he arrived in October 2013, “the Port was broken” and needed to rebuild and rebrand, and did. “The next chapter for the Port of Virginia is underway.”
“I came to this job because I wanted to make a difference,” he said. “This team has done that.”
Stephen Edwards, the former CEO of TraPac which operates terminals at ports in Los Angeles, Oakland and Jacksonville, Florida, is the Virginia Port Authority’s new CEO.