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Wheeler Joins SC Ports Authority Sales Team

Charleston Container Volume Sees Highest Quarter in Four Years

Charleston, SC - The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) has hired John M. Wheeler to the position of Vice President, Carrier Sales, effective October 29. The announcement was made at today’s regular SCPA Board meeting.
Wheeler will report to Paul McClintock, Senior Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, and will lead ocean carrier sales efforts for South Carolina’s public port system. He will be based in Charleston at the SCPA’s headquarters.

“John brings to the South Carolina Ports Authority a wealth of industry knowledge and experience over his very successful career,” said Jim Newsome, President & CEO of the SCPA. “While we continue to grow our ports’ business and realize the deepening of Charleston Harbor, John will be an effective addition to our sales force.”

Wheeler has more than 38 years of experience in the shipping industry at various levels of operations, sales and management. Most recently, he was Senior Director of Trade Development at the Georgia Ports Authority, where he oversaw all carrier sales and contract negotiation efforts as well as an international sales team and agency network spanning six continents. Prior to joining that organization in 1989, Wheeler worked as a Regional Sales Manager for Hanjin Shipping, responsible for the U.S. Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

“As ocean carriers look to reduce their 'per slot' costs by deploying larger draft vessels, deep water becomes more critical every day,” said Wheeler. “The Port of Charleston is ready and strategically positioned today to handle the largest ships transiting either canal. I am very excited to join the team of the South Carolina Ports Authority, which is the most skilled, aggressive, and customer-focused port in the industry.” 

In other personnel changes announced today, Jack Ellenberg is being promoted to Senior Vice President, Economic Development and Projects, with expanded responsibilities for the SCPA’s business development efforts. Art Pruett will assume the role of Vice President, Cargo Sales, and will oversee the recruitment of cargo accounts as well as the SCPA’s cargo sales team. Additionally, Mike Stresemann is being promoted to Vice President, Heavy Lift Maintenance.

Business Results & Other Board Action

The first quarter of the fiscal year (July-September) was the strongest quarter for Charleston container volume in four years with 400,492 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) handled, a 13.3 percent gain over the same period last year. Volume for the calendar year to date in TEUs was up 9.4 percent. September container volume in the Port of Charleston continued to show year-over-year growth. The port handled 131,686 last month, a 5.3 percent increase over the same month last year.

Breakbulk volume at the Port of Charleston surged to its highest quarter in more than two decades, with 302,611 pier tons handled from July through September. Non-container tonnage across the SCPA during the first quarter of the fiscal year was up 27.6 percent over the same period in 2011, with 442,848 pier tons recorded at the ports of Charleston and Georgetown. In September, the SCPA handled 159,476 pier tons of non-containerized cargo at the two ports.

“These gains are significant as they come in the face of a tepid global economy,” said Newsome. “The port will need to continue to expand its cargo base to make further progress.”

In other action, the SCPA Board approved a $571,850 contract to Palmetto Gunite Construction Company of Ravenel for wharf substructure repairs at Columbus Street Terminal. The Board also authorized a contract not to exceed $600,000 to Marinex Dredging for maintenance berth dredging at the Wando Welch Terminal. The work will be completed in November.

About the South Carolina State Ports Authority
The South Carolina State Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $58 billion annually while receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy.  An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year.  For more information, visit