September 16, 2014

Sink or Swim- Southeast- Nov. 2002

Pat Dunnigan | 11/1/2002
It's not exactly the kind of job that sells itself: Director of a 2,190-acre seaport that's plagued by controversy, vulnerable to terrorism and run by county officials who aren't afraid to meddle. But Canadian native Ken Krauter was willing to take the top job at Port Everglades a little over a year since the last director, Paul DeMariano, was asked to resign after clashing with county officials over deals that included a multimillion-dollar, no-bid cargo handling contract and an exclusive arrangement with a politically connected tugboat operator.

A civil engineer who was CEO of the Jacksonville Port Authority from 1996 until last year, Krauter acknowledges that the controversies may have kept some applicants away, but says county officials and the nature of the opportunities persuaded him to take on the challenge.

Krauter's first priority will be to map out the port's business objectives, strategies and a five-year financial plan. "We're looking at $100 million in revenues," he says, the bulk of which comes from cruises and petroleum and cargo deliveries. As Florida's third-biggest port -- based on the value of imports and exports -- "Port Everglades is a significant business," he says.

Krauter would like to bring in new shipping lines and commodities. "I believe in taking a very proactive approach in the marketplace," he says.

Krauter, 60, took a similar approach in Jacksonville, where seaport revenues rose 17% during his tenure and he oversaw $200 million in improvements. He lost his job when the Jacksonville Port Authority decided to split its airport and seaport operations ["A Split Decision," December 2000, FloridaTrend.com], a move that Krauter openly opposed. In Canada, Krauter served as CEO of Saint John Port Corp. and Prince Rupert Port Corp. and was manager of Vancouver International Airport's master plan project.

Krauter seems to be winning over his constituency in Fort Lauderdale. "I think he exudes competence," says Margaret Kempel, executive director of the Port Everglades Association, which represents businesses that use the port.

Kempel says association members are encouraged by Krauter's plans to bring all port players together, including port users, for regular discussions of how to achieve their business goals.

Meanwhile, Krauter faces other challenges, including balancing the effort to build business with the need for expensive new security measures. Also on the agenda: A 20-year plan linking Port Everglades with the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, with ambitious expansion plans for both.

IN THE NEWS

Boca Raton -- Privately held Mobile Medical Industries, which provides doctors and nurses for home visits, has raised $24 million from investors. The 650-employee company, which operates in 10 southeast and southwest Florida counties, plans to expand into new markets.

The Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association, owner of Mizner Park, has agreed to take back the 800,000-sq.-ft. Jacobson's building and drop any claims it has against the department store, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. The agreement enables the association to choose the next tenant.

The American Media Inc. building has been released as a crime scene but will remain under federal quarantine until it has been completely decontaminated. Company executives say they have no plans to reoccupy the building, where anthrax spores killed a photo editor last year. A spokesman says the company is willing to give the building to the government.

Broward County -- The county's legislative delegation and other local leaders are working to develop a plan for annexing the remainder of the county's unincorporated land into existing cities by 2005. Broward's cities are worried that they will be forced to take on neighborhoods with low tax values and expensive needs.

Schools Superintendent Frank Till got lukewarm marks from school board members during his annual evaluation this year. Till's critics cited problems with school construction and technology, among other things. Board members did not withhold Till's $7,000 bonus, however, crediting him for raising student test scores. Till's contract expires next year.

County commissioners have agreed to hire an environmental consulting company to review plans for expanding the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. A review by Colorado-based Clean Airport Partnership will cost $89,400.

Dania Beach -- Nova Southeastern University researchers are working to restore areas of Broward County coral reefs under a $25,000 grant from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

Fort Lauderdale -- The city gained 12,000 residents and $5 million a year in new tax revenues after annexing Riverland and Melrose Park.

Fort Pierce -- The University of Florida has opened a $350,000 fruit-processing facility at its Indian River Research and Education Center. The center is designed to perfect the process by which Florida citrus and some vegetables are prepared for long-distance shipping.

Hollywood -- The Department of Labor has sued the labor union trustees who built the lavish Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, alleging their investment of union pension funds in the project was made without "due diligence to determine the financial viability of the project." The $800-million resort, built by a Washington, D.C., plumbers and pipefitters union, was plagued by cost overruns and delays.

Miramar -- The city's building department will hire structural engineers to review all new home plans in the wake of a Miami Herald investigation that found homes in the rapidly developing west Broward city failed to meet new wind-resistance rules.

North Lauderdale -- As part of their recent merger, Hewlett-Packard and Compaq will shift up to 1,500 customer service jobs from The Answer Group to lower-paid workers at a call center in India. The move prompted some county commissioners to suggest boycotting the computer companies in retaliation.

Palm Beach -- Colonial BancGroup of Montgomery, Ala., has acquired Palm Beach National Bank & Trust Co. in a stock exchange deal valued at $105 million. The acquisition gives Colonial five new full-service branches and three boutique offices in Palm Beach County.

Pembroke Pines -- City officials are considering opening a charter school in cooperation with Florida State University's College of Education. Such an arrangement would allow the city to sidestep the approval of the county school board, which has reservations about approving a seventh charter school for the city because two more county schools are planned for the area.

Port St. Lucie -- Power catamaran builder Twin Vee Products is moving ahead with plans to add 4,000 square feet to its 40,000-sq.-ft. plant in Port St. Lucie. Owner Roger Dunshee says he is also looking for property in White City and south Fort Pierce to build two 50,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing plants.

Elections
GIVING UP CONTROL

BROWARD COUNTY -- Beleaguered Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant has agreed to allow county officials to run this month's election in Broward County. Under the agreement, county employees will recruit and train workers to handle the voting systems, set up, open and close polling places, and transmit votes to central computers. Oliphant will handle voter registration, absentee ballots, databases and campaign finance reports and tabulate the outcome.

Tags: Southeast

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