Messages from the Outgoing and Incoming Greater Houston Port Bureau Chairmen

Message from Outgoing Chairman

Outgoing Chairman
Charles Flournoy 2014-2017 Chairman

Consultant, John L. Wortham & Son, LLP

I began my association with the Greater Houston Port Bureau more than three decades ago as a valuable part of my association with the area’s maritime industry. As I wind up my duties as chairman of the Port Bureau this year, I sometimes reflect back to the priorities of those early days to contrast with where we are as an organization today.

In those first days, the Port Bureau focus was frequently on tariffs. It was important to the port region that the tariff structure be competitive as an economic driver for the region. Consequently, the Port Bureau staff centered much of their expertise on that important issue. Now, however, it is a word that doesn’t pop up too much in our meetings.

The hot topics today focus on dredging and waterway efficiencies. I consider them both to be vital areas of Port Bureau involvement. Dredging, particularly, is an issue intricately linked with my life, reaching back to my earliest career days as I spent a considerable part of my youth working with my father at a dredging company. It set the course for my future involvement at Wortham to help best meet client expectations.

Dredging advocacy also sets the course for the future of the Port Bureau. It is one of the most significant needs for the continuing vitality of the port region, and I am pleased that this organization has dedicated its prowess to push for success. In 2016, the Port Bureau helped deliver the message to congress that private companies need reliable, predictable access to dredge material placement areas. As a result, we were successful in obtaining seven congressional signatures for a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) about permitting time frames and the availability of private industry to use federal placement areas.

Following up on that in 2017, after careful and thorough discussions in the Port Bureau dredging committee, we sent a letter to ACOE-Galveston supporting the deepening and widening of the Boggy Bayou to Sims Bayou reach: Segment 4 of the Tentatively Selected Plan from ACOE’s ship channel improvement study. Additional support and feedback about the study to ACOE-Galveston included the available of dredged material placement areas and keeping existing barge lanes intact. We also urged ACOE work closely with terminals and other ship channel users to ensure all channel modifications interact safely and effectively with existing and planned terminal facilities.

As you can see, it’s hard to compress the subject into a brief description! Perhaps that’s because its importance is just too far-reaching. As my tenure as Port Bureau chairman wraps up, it is an honor to have been a part of a team that concentrates on the overall success of the port region and is committed to its ongoing progress as an economic engine for future generations.


Message from Incoming Chairman

Incoming Chairman Vinny Pilegge
2018-2021 Chairman

President, Manchester Terminal

It’s exciting to step into the role of Port Bureau chairman at a time when many new expectations are on the horizon for the organization. The Port Bureau’s leadership and staff have been successfully focusing on expanding membership throughout the port region and our bringing industry together to concentrate on the important agendas of dredging, efficiency, and advocating the strengths of our waterway.

As the organization moves into 2018, we are ready to step outside the box and take on a higher profile along the Houston Ship Channel. We all believe we can do more together than we can do separately. As individual companies, we may be competitors on the water, but we want to be one team on the shore. The more players we have, the more we can get done. We are building business not just for today, but for the next 30 years.

The ships are getting bigger, the world is moving faster, and customers expect quicker reaction times. Our local maritime community is learning to adapt to an industry that is becoming intensely fast-paced. The Port Bureau has become the voice of support in countering negativity and firmly communicating the correct message of Houston’s capacity and efficiency.

The weather definitely threw us an unexpected curve ball at the end of the summer and many are still in recovery mode. One positive thing it did do, however, is demonstrate our prowess in working together to make a strong comeback! The cooperative spirit of the port region and our ability to keep things moving on our waterway – from liquids to break bulk to containers – is the message we want the world to know.

Like Charles Flournoy, my primary goal as chairman is to see that our board supports the Port Bureau staff as facilitators for industry success and to shine the light even more for progress in the areas that affect us all. At Manchester Terminal, we maintain this mindset as part of our “blueprint for improvement” in reaching our objectives. I like to feel we are carrying this approach with us at the Port Bureau into 2018.

The Port Bureau is introducing a new membership structure for 2018. I urge all maritime and stakeholders to respond to the opportunity for membership and greater involvement in the significant endeavors that impact us all. I hope you join us to participate in the port region that continues to benefit all of the players in our maritime community.

I look forward to working with everyone!


  • Date December 19, 2017
  • Tags Dec 2017-Jan 2018