Mario Cordero is now the executive director of the Port of Long Beach and will work to improve operations at the second-busiest container port in the US. His mission will be to stop the slow decline of cargo routing through Long Beach by creating a more efficient environment. Cordero is replacing Jon Slangerup who served as executive director for two years before he resigned.
Since 2005, West Coast ports have lost 12 percent market share of US imports from Asia. Long Beach’s percentage of Asian import market share fell to 21.3 percent in 2016 from 25.8 percent in 2005. Cordero plans to focus more on service than on the numbers. His belief is that if the service improves at the port, beneficial cargo owners will choose to route cargo there.
Part of the operational struggles Long Beach faces could be attributed to the rapid turnover of executive directors. Other issues have resulted from the fact that the executive director has to report to the mayor since the port is considered a department of the state. The current mayor, Robert Garcia, is more inclined to allow Cordero to manage the day to day operations which was not the case with previous mayors.
Cordero contributed to the PierPass program and also dealt with congestion issues on the West Coast when he served on the Long Beach Harbor Commission. In 2011, he was appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission where he focused on issues facing US ports including the need for extended gates, trucker appointment systems and using technology to create efficiencies. He has the experience of receiving feedback from terminal operators, truck drivers, and beneficial cargo owners which will offer a unique perspective in his new role.
There are two issues that Cordero is aware of and that is one, infrastructure investment is needed to keep up with the changes in the industry and two, there are many process improvements needed to become more efficient. If both of these issues can be addressed it will result in better service and less congestion for all Port of Long Beach users.
The port has plans for $4 billion in investments and there is a major focus on intermodal rail service. Cordero is confident that the plans combined with his mission for operational excellence will positively impact cargo owners and the community.