Captain’s Corner

10 Great Years

Captain Diehl President GHPB

June 18 marked ten years since I retired from the Coast Guard. At the time, Annette and I decided the kids were doing well in middle and high school and were active in our church. We felt juggling them with a move during their high school years was risky. The kids agreed and commented to me at one of our dinner meetings, “Dad, don’t take this wrong, but we are not really sure what you do. But we like it here, so see if you can find job here until we graduate from high school.” Annette asked what DID I want to do – and I really could not give her a good answer. So I replied: “I want to jump off the good ship Coast Guard into the civilian waters and see if someone would like me on their ship.” Luckily, I did not have to tread water too long as Tom Marian and the Board of the Port Bureau offered me my current position at the Greater Houston Port Bureau.

It was a time of transition for me as well as for the Port Bureau team. When I came aboard, industry was still seeing the effects of the “Great Recession”. Few organizations escaped the impact of the country’s economic difficulties, and the Port Bureau was no exception. Things had become a little slow, but the Port Bureau crew was ready to take on new challenges. With Jeannie, Janette, and Cristina staying on we hired a spunky intern, Patrick Seeba, and got busy working for the Board and our 95 member companies. At home the kids grew up into responsible adults and left home on their own adventures, At the Port Bureau, the staff grew to 10 and membership to 220, making the past decade a fun and satisfying time in life.

For 90 years the Port Bureau’s mission and membership has ebbed and flowed with the commerce of Houston’s port region. Lead by the a generous and large (34 individuals) Board of Directors, we put our energy to the task of offering our members new business-building opportunities through networking, education, and information. We scouted out leaders in the industry to share from their expertise at our Commerce Club luncheons, attracting new attendees while gaining valuable insights. It has been such a pleasure to see attendance grow and get acquainted with so many new people from the diverse maritime community.

Within weeks of my joining the Port Bureau, Director Tim Studdert stepped forward and offered to organize a golf tournament for our members, which, for recruiting purposes they titled the Captain’s Cup – and what great sport we have enjoyed over the last ten years. From tee-off to iced tea at the evening steak dinner, it always proves a wonderful day of golfing camaraderie. A whole other team of members (now lead by Director April Bailey) have focused on our Annual Maritime Dinner, taking the evening of recognition and fellowship to a new level for the industry. It has been our privilege to honor the contributions of outstanding industry leaders and companies in the port region over the last ten years and to experience its growth into the largest dinner of its kind in the nation!

The past decade has also seen us revamp and improve how we provide information to you. We upgraded our monthly “Bulletin” newsletter into a magazine format available in print and online – always striving to keep members updated on events and issues that impact the port region. We’ve added email alerts during significant events affecting the Houston Ship Channel.

Led by our Board and members, we have analyzed and championed ideas to improve the efficiency, infrastructure (channel dredging), and advocacy of the port through our committees. I often tell people the Port Bureau is really a collective competitive partnership to bring more cargo business to the port. As we move forward our Chairman, Vinny Pilegge, wanted to ensure we were properly serving our members and formed a membership committee led by Director Mark Jacobs to get input from members to help us lay the framework for growing our member services. If you are interested in getting involved in one of these committees, please let me know. They are fun committees and do an excellent job of organizing and focusing our efforts.

It’s been a great ten years for me on the good ship Port Bureau. Since the kids are not telling me to jump off, I look forward to sailing on it with you as we work together to bring more business to the region.

 

 

  • Date July 9, 2019
  • Tags 2019 June