North Carolina Ports executive director retiring, chief operating officer to take position

The MV Hyundai Hope arrives in the Port of Wilmington on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

WILMINGTON – North Carolina State Ports Authority executive director Paul Cozza is retiring from his post. The announcement was made during the North Carolina Ports Board of Directors regularly scheduled June meeting. Cozza will continue to serve in his role through December 31, 2020.

Cozza was named to the position in April 2014 and served for six years. Under Cozza’s leadership, NC Ports achieved its most profitable years on record and general cargo at the ports of Wilmington and Morehead City increased by 58%. Cozza also helmed a $200 million capital improvements plan, reintroduced intermodal rail, and container volumes through the Port of Wilmington increased 25% during his tenure.

NC Ports called the growth of the cold chain sector his most notable achievement. Since 2014, refrigerated container volume through the Port of Wilmington has more than quadrupled. Cozza helped develop the Ports Authority’s annual Cold Chain Summit, which brings industry leaders and cold chain sector experts to the Wilmington every year.

“It has been an honor to lead North Carolina Ports. Our organization has made tremendous strides over the last several years and it has been exciting to be a part of the progress and witness its positive impacts on our state,” said Cozza. “As I step away, I know our dedicated team will continue to build on this success and further grow NC Ports as an economic leader for North Carolina.”

As the Board of Directors announced Cozza’s retirement, the 11-member board also named Brian E. Clark as the new Executive Director of the North Carolina State Ports Authority. Clark currently serves as the chief operating officer and deputy executive director.

“The Board of Directors is excited to have a proven leader in the maritime industry step into this role,” said Robert A. Wicker, Chairman, North Carolina Ports Board of Directors. “It has long been a part of our plan to have Brian move up within the organization and we are confident his more than 20 years of experience will continue to propel NC Ports forward as a competitive East Coast port.”

“Our ports play an important role in North Carolina whether that’s through better supporting our state’s transportation network or through the billions of dollars it contributes to our state’s economy every year. Brian understands this commitment and we believe his strong leadership will help further Paul’s legacy and expand port business,” said Eric Boyette, N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary.

Clark joined North Carolina Ports in June 2017 and has been an integral part of the Ports Authority’s record-breaking operational achievements. Most recently, the Port of Wilmington welcomed its largest container ship thanks to the completion of four major waterside projects including, a wider turning basin, berth renovations, air draft improvements and the addition of three neo-Panamax cranes.

Clark has led the charge in transforming NC Ports’ facilities into the most efficient on the east coast. Late last year, the Port of Wilmington was named the most productive port and Wilmington’s Container Terminal the most productive terminal.

Prior to joining North Carolina Ports, Clark served in various senior level positions throughout the maritime industry. He previously served as the Managing Director for APM Terminals at Port Elizabeth, New Jersey and was responsible for directing the overall operations of the marine terminal. In addition to his time at Port Elizabeth, he spent four years as the Project Director for APM Terminals in Mobile, Alabama touting a focus on design, contracting and execution of its development.