By Alex Binkley
David Cree will step down as President and CEO of Windsor Port Authority this year, the second veteran port boss to retire in recent months. Last year it was Don Krusel who retired as President and CEO of Prince Rupert Port Authority. Krusel is widely seen as the architect of Prince Rupert’s rise to prominence from coastal obscurity while Cree showed the way to keep a small port nimble and vital to the local community.
Robert Lewis-Manning, President of the Chamber of Shipping, said both men “were visionaries and they put their ports on the map. They steered their ports through boom and bust cycles and diversified their business.” Through the ups and downs, Krusel and Cree went about their job “without seeking the spotlight,” he said. “They did it their way.”
Both men spent decades with their ports beginning when they were still Harbour Commissions. Krusel joined Prince Rupert in 1987 as its Chief Financial Officer, and became President and CEO in 1992.
Cree, 67, and into his 33rd year with the port, said retirement on April 30 was a difficult decision to make. “I’ve been in this job for a long time.” Cree and his staff of four have been kept busy over the years reminding Windsor and the southwestern region of Ontario west of Chatham of the economic importance of the port. It has among the lowest fees of any Canadian port. “The port has brought some industry to town and created jobs. We have been self-sufficient, able to grow the business and make a profit which always gets re-invested back into the community.”
Krusel came to Prince Rupert when it was a small resource port and is stepping down in the middle of a record-breaking year of container and other traffic. “With the completion of the recent expansion project to make Fairview Container Terminal the second largest in Canada, and the Port well positioned for another decade of exceptional growth, it is an appropriate moment to announce my retirement, and pass the leadership to a new generation,” he said.
Lewis-Manning said Krusel developed a long term vision for Prince Rupert, and then worked governments, CN and the community to make it happen. “He saw the growth coming in Asia and tapped into it to make it a gateway port.”
Wendy Zatylny, President of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, said the two men shared from their experiences with the whole port community. “They gave ACPA and anyone who asked the support and advice that was needed. Both were very active and creative in ways that were meaningful.”