Curtis J. Foltz, who as executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) for the past six years presided over perhaps the most successful period in GPA's history, will step down at the end of its fiscal year on June 30, GPA said today.
Foltz will be succeeded by Griff Lynch, GPA's chief operating officer. Foltz had been COO for six years before assuming his current post in 2010.
Foltz will serve as a consultant to GPA for one year after his departure, it said.
Foltz's departure had been rumored for months. In July 2015, when asked to comment on rumors of his possible retirement, Foltz said in an e-mail that the thought "hasn't even entered my mind. Everything is great here with GPA, the team and my board of directors."
In a phone interview, Foltz said he arrived at the decision after discussing the matter over the holidays with his wife. Both felt that after 12 years at GPA, it was time for him to move on. Foltz said the GPA board was "surprised" by his decision when they were informed in early January. He said the scope of the impending consulting arrangement has yet to be defined. Foltz said he plans to work another 10 to 15 years and will remain in the maritime industry. "I've been in global shipping for 33-plus years, and it's hard to imagine me doing anything else," he said. Barring any calamity over the next five months, Foltz will depart with the GPA, and especially the Port of Savannah, the country's fourth-busiest containerport, in good shape. In late January, GPA reported that calendar year 2015 volumes handled at Savannah hit an all-time high of 3.73 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), an 11.7-percent increase from 2014 levels. The gains were fueled by increased traffic demand in the Southeast, Savannah's prowess as a logistics hub, and the diversion of cargo from West Coast ports, as heightened labor-management tensions there in late 2014-15 led many Beneficial Cargo Owners (BCOs) to shift traffic to East and Gulf coast ports to avoid potential delays. GPA has said it retained a portion of diverted cargoes, but has never specified how much.
Total tonnage across all GPA terminals reached a record 31.48 million tons in 2015, a 3.6-percent increase from the prior year. Container tonnage grew 4 percent, while bulk and breakbulk cargo handled at the Port of Brunswick, also operated by GPA, rose 2.2 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. In its 2015 fiscal year, Savannah handled an all-time record 3.66 million TEUs, a 17-percent increase from FY 2014 levels. The 2014 fiscal year was the first time Savannah's container volume exceeded 3 million TEUs.
During Foltz's tenure, Georgia began positioning itself as a player in the fast-growing inland-port segment, where ports are connected with rail lines to provide service between interior U.S. markets and port facilities. In 2013, the state opened an inland port in Cordele, located 65 miles south of Macon and 103 miles north of the Florida state line. Last year, an agreement was finalized to build a similar complex in Chatsworth, located in northwest Georgia, to link Savannah to markets in north Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and parts of Kentucky. The facility, to be called the "Appalachian Regional Port," will operate in conjunction with CSX Transportation, the Jacksonville-based rail giant, which will provide direct access. It is expected to open in 2018 with an annual capacity of 50,000 containers.
State officials have set a goal of developing the largest intermodal complex in the eastern third of the U.S.