Page 42 - Linkline Summer 2018
P. 42

 Ten Minutes with Franck Ronan, FCILT
Linkline talks to Mr Frank Ronan FCILT, Chief Executive of the Port of Waterford about his work with the ambitious south-east port and what his ambitions and challenges are to develop the facility.
Could you provide us with a little background on your career?
I’ve been working for the last two and a half years as Chief Executive of the Port of Waterford, a role I am greatly enjoying  I am an accountant by trade, before coming to the port I worked with Glanbia, Wexford Creamery as Managing Director and the Stafford Group as Finance Director  Being involved in business in this part of the country meant I had some flavour of the industries which Waterford Port feeds into  I’m very much a native of the South East, and that’s something that’s been important to me over my career 
Could you give us a brief overview of the Port of Waterford?
Waterford Port moved to its current site 20 years ago and is now based in Belview, 5km south of the City itself, at the head of the river Suir  We have a kilometre of quays at the port, relatively newly built, and our core operations are focussed on bulk business and container handling (LoLo)  We currently handle approximately 1 3 million tonnes of bulk products, very much a servant of the agriculture and food business that is prevalent in the South East  We also handle steel, cement and timber, which is also consistent with the major industries in the area 
Our container business is relatively small currently but is ripe for expansion  Our two main clients are DFDS and Samskip, who run a ship to/from Rotterdam twice a week  That business currently handles about 44000 TEU (20 Foot Units) annually 
What have been the key areas for growth and where do you see future growth?
On our bulk side we have seen some dramatic increases, we were up 27% in terms of bulk trade last year and we expect a strong year again for 2018  That tracks the wider market  We have plenty of capacity to deal with more growth in this area  On the container side, as I said it’s still quite small, but we could quadruple throughput if the demand arises  The port used to be primarily a LoLo facility with a small bulk operation, now we’re primarily bulk with a small LoLo operation  We’re hopeful that both arms of the business will thrive in the future 
What are areas of concern for the business?
I have to mention Brexit-like many other businesses and industries we are concerned with the lack of progress  The possibility of a ‘Hard Brexit’ is deeply worrying and would have a tremendously negative impact on our entire economy  However, we are Brexit ready as a port, although we say that with great humility  We are prepared to make our contribution in dealing with the impact of Brexit if needs be and continue to make plans and develop relationships with this in mind 
Industry wide we expect
some level of a transfer-
modal shift to LoLo, and
we are well positioned
for this  There are
pressures on the major
ports and the industry
in general with Brexit
looming, so we hope to
be able to contribute 
After Dublin, Cork and
Limerick both Waterford
and Rosslare are the
fourth and fifth largest
ports, offering
services, Rosslare with
RoRo & passengers and ourselves with LoLo and bulk  Ports throughout Ireland have open dialogue and good relationships  The National Capacity Study for ports happening at the moment is very positive  Ports themselves are just facilitators for business, but it’s vital we get our business model right in order to benefit as much of the economy as possible 
What challenges have you faced since taking over at the port?
I’ve been here at a good time and am very much a ‘lucky General’, things are going well and that has been great  We are working on a Masterplan for the port over the next six to eight months, so there is a lot of work and consultation to be done with national, regional and local stakeholders  I think the Masterplan can provide a pipeline of ambitious projects and ultimately facilitate larger ships for the port  However, it’s early days still and a lot of work to be done, particularly on the environmental side 
How many people does the port employ and how important is it for regional development?
There are 36 people directly employed by Port of Waterford with another approximately 60 people employed in directly related activities at the port and an overall 630 employed in the Port Zone  I work closely with the south east local authorities, counties of Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny, and the various development authorities  A lot of plans are currently in train, nationally, regionally and locally, and there is a lot of joined up thinking going on, which is good to see  Essentially our job is to make it as easy as possible to do business with the Port of Waterford, and that’s something the team here is very much focussed on 
The Southern Section of CILT recently visited the Port of Waterford in June and were treated to a visit to their offices and quayside. See page 26 for more information.
   42 The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport
Frank Ronan and CILT President Helen Noble
 Frank recently became a Fellow of the Institute in February of this year. He was presented with his certificate at the Presidential Address of Helen Noble in the National Maritime College of Ireland.

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