Napier Port chief executive, Garth Cowie, announced to staff yesterday that, after 37 years in the port industry, he has given notice to the Napier Port Board of his retirement in December this year.

He has given the Board plenty of notice to allow for a robust recruitment process and thorough hand over to his successor.

Napier Port chairman, Alasdair MacLeod, says Mr Cowie should take great pride in a number of achievements that have positioned Napier Port well for the future. 

“He’s developed an outstanding senior management team and a motivated and dedicated staff across the board – across our marine, cargo handling and support functions. They are pushing industry boundaries nationally and internationally in health and safety, technology and logistics.”

“Napier Port’s relationship with customers and suppliers is strong and the company is forging partnerships for collaboration across the globe. We are heading towards a healthy profit this year and we are currently planning for a wharf development that will see Napier Port significantly increase its capacity,” Mr MacLeod says.

Mr Cowie says he recently turned 60 and, as the milestone approached, he began to contemplate all that had been achieved by Napier Port.

“After 17 years at the helm, while it will be sad given the friendships and colleagues I will miss, this is the right time to go. Napier Port is now exceeding all expectations and the company is in excellent shape to tackle the huge growth that’s coming.

“When I arrived from South Port in 1999, we were handling less than 100,000 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers a year – we are about to break 300,000 TEU and we’re set to increase even more over the next few years.”

“Not only have we had growth but we’ve had tremendous cultural changes within our organisation. We are more engaged with our staff, we are recognised leaders in port health and safety and we are working more closely with our community than ever before,” Mr Cowie says.

After 22 years as a chief executive (17 at Napier and five at South Port), and a huge amount of travel visiting shipping lines and customers across the world, he’s ready to spend more time with his wife, Monique, their children and grandchildren and set his sights on new projects.

“The future is bright for Napier Port and I have a few other things on my list that I want to tick off,” Mr Cowie says.

Mr MacLeod says, while it will be difficult to replace Mr Cowie, his decision to retire will create a huge opportunity for someone in the industry. The recruitment process will begin immediately.