Tay Yoshitani, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, announced yesterday that he will resign to become deputy executive director of the port of Oakland, Calif.
Although he's stepping down from the top post for a number two spot, he will assume vastly broader responsibilities. The port of Oakland encompasses not only maritime operations but also the Oakland International Airport and substantial commercial real estate holdings.
"I got an offer that was very attractive, and it's a good opportunity to expand my horizons," Yoshitani said.
After arriving in Baltimore in 1995, Yoshitani announced a strategic plan to revitalize the port, which had struggled as consolidation in the shipping industry brought fewer and fewer ships here. The plan included his recommendation that the port target specific container cargo, boost break-bulk business and build new facilities such as a refrigerated warehouse.
Since then, the MPA has had some success in attracting new businesses, such as Evergreen's new service to South America and Italian Line's return to Baltimore after a decade-long absence. After decreasing 7.4 percent in 1996, cargo through the port increased by 5 percent last year and was up 9 percent in the first quarter of this year. In recent months, however, the port lost both Crowley American Transport and Zim American Israeli Co.
"Basically, I think we've turned the port around. We're in the growth mode now," Yoshitani said. "There's been stability over the last three years, which I've ingrained in the organization and which I expect will continue."
James B. White, the MPA's deputy director, will serve as interim head while a nationwide search is conducted to find a permanent director.
"I'm disappointed he's leaving. He contributed a lot over the last three years," said Maryland Transportation Secretary David L. Winstead. "But we have a very good team and a strategic plan in place, and the staff will implement that."
Yoshitani, 51, will go from making $130,000 a year in Baltimore to $165,000 in Oakland, which he said actually comes out to $180,000 with tax and pension benefits. He said he has turned down other jobs. He accepted the Oakland position, he said, because it will give him new challenges and put him closer to his parents, who live in Southern California.
Yoshitani was the sixth person in 10 years to head the MPA, which oversees five public marine terminals. He and Winstead ++ said that such a rate of turnover isn't unusual in the industry and that it won't make Baltimore less appealing to qualified replacements. The search should be helped because the state recently agreed to stop placing a 6 percent ceiling on salary increases for top MPA positions. Baltimore, which paid below the industry average, will be able to recruit more aggressively.
Charles W. Foster, executive director of the port of Oakland, said Yoshitani's leadership, vision and motivational skills make him a good choice for the job. Additionally, his experience in dredging will be helpful.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening called Yoshitani's departure "a real loss" for the port of Baltimore. Yoshitani will stay on the job through July. He will begin his new postion in August.
Pub Date: 5/30/98