The Port Alberni Port Authority has hired a new chief executive officer.
Zoran Knezevic of Surrey will take over July 3 from Brad Madelung, who is retiring to pursue other interests.
Knezevic has worked in the shipping industry for more than 26 years, including as an officer for the Yugoslavian Merchant Marines.
After immigrating to Canada in 1992, Knezevic worked at the container terminal in Montreal, then moved across the country to Deltaport, in Delta, B.C., where he worked for more than a decade.
Most recently Knezevic has worked as an industry consultant through his own company, Portside Solutions, specializing in trucking and drayage, operational and management solutions for marine and container terminals, and development and implementation of terminals operating software.
The CEO search began earlier this spring, when Madelung announced to the port authority board that he wanted to retire, board chairman Don Ferster said.
The board chose Knezevic for the position because of his depth of knowledge in the shipping industry. “We’re wanting to increase the awareness of our port and attract new business,” Ferster said. “He should be able to move that forward.”
The deep sea port has seen its numbers improve in 2012, Ferster added. The number of log shipments has increased, while lumber shipments have remained stable.
“We’re looking to attract new products or give our port a higher visibility in world shipping. Our port is very under-utilized,” he said. Ferster estimated the port is only being used to 30 or 40 per cent capacity.
Knezevic said although he was aware Port Alberni had a deep sea port, he didn’t realize it wasn’t being used as much as it could.
“I believe the port authority…has the potential to grow into a larger port. I believe I can bring some ideas and the board is a strong supporter,” he said. “I think we have the right ingredients to see the port grow.”
Knezevic and his wife have three children, including a daughter who is heading to Vancouver Island University in the fall. The CEO says he is looking forward to moving to the Alberni Valley. “It gives a healthy environment and community to raise a family,” he said.
Madelung was appointed CEO on May 1, 2007 after serving as acting port manager from November 2006. Prior to that he had been the manager of Port Alberni Terminals, the port authority’s deep sea shipping facility. He has been an employee at the Port for close to 30 years.