Every day is a little bit different, and it can run the gamut
on what you can expect. My best
comparison for a chief wharfinger is
we are like a property manager, but
I also have a number of duties that
include being a representative on a
few boards, including the harbor
safety committee, where talk is
about issues that involve the bay,
dredging and the environment, and
the [California] Maritime Academy.
I also handle a lot of government
affairs and local maritime community issues, along with running a staff
of four wharfingers.
When I say each day is different,
today [Jan. 8] is a perfect example. I
am driving to the Port of Stockton
to look at their barge service and
observe how it runs. The goal of the
service, which mostly carries overweight containers, is to get trucks
off the road. Once I am done there,
I have a meeting with our executive
director and an exporter.
The wharfinger is someone who
understands the port side of the
business. Here, we have accountants,
financial folks, lawyers and a lot of
other people, but they don’t know
the port business side of things. We
provide the institutional knowledge
and the lay of the land. We were
handpicked for specific specialties in
certain areas involving the port.
One of the main challenges I face
is dealing with different entities and
politics involving our tenants. We
always have to deal with outside
influences involving port property.
Most recently, the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team
expressed interest in relocating to a
location at one of our terminals
near the water. We now have to balance the interest of the maritime
industry and public in deciding if
this would be a good idea.
Instances like this make it challenging because we want all our tenants — no matter how much power
or pull they have — to be playing on
the same field. That’s one of our
main goals, to treat every tenant
equally and look out for everyone’s
— the maritime industry, public,
etc. — best interest.
What I enjoy the most about my
job is probably the day-to-day interac-
tions I have with those tenants and
my fellow wharfingers. A lot of them
have become my good friends and
although they are paying the port to
rent space, I want to see them succeed
on a personal level and to help the
port. It’s rewarding when they do well
and to watch them accomplish the
goals they set out for themselves.
I have known I wanted to work
in the maritime industry since I was
14 years old, when my father would
take me to the water near Los
Angeles and we would watch the
ships come in. I went to the
California Maritime Academy, spent
four years in the Navy, realized it
did not agree with me, and have
been working on the industry side
I worked for a shipping line,
some steamship agencies and came
to the Port of Oakland 15 years ago.
When I got here, I knew this was the
job I wanted to stay at until I retire.
I became chief seven years ago.
After being in the industry for a
while now, I can say that although
there may be changes in the grand
scheme of things, regular day-to-day
activities that I do have remained
pretty much the same. One of the
biggest things that has changed has
been dealing with politics, as that’s
something that has grown a lot over
the last seven years. I didn’t have it
on the level that I do now, but it has
also made me pay more attention to
details than I did in the past.
Overall, working in the maritime
industry and for this port has been
rewarding and I think a great avenue
for someone to pursue if they are
looking for a job. As my wife
can attest, I love my job.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY 2014
PORT OF OAKLAND, CALIF.
PROFILES IN SERVICE