MANATEE -- The short list of finalists for Port Manatee’s top post includes an 18-year port executive, a former port executive, two other Floridians, a Canadian and a top-rung executive at a worldwide stevedore company.
The six were chosen Tuesday by the port authority out of almost 80 applicants for the post, which authority members also decided would have a salary range of $150,000 to $190,000.
Another three applicants made it to the authority’s “B-list” and will become finalists if any of the original six are ruled out after more background checks and interviews. The authority plans to meet Sept. 15 to determine who will be invited for in-person interviews.
Among the finalists are two familiar faces; Steve Tyndal, the port’s senior director for trade development and special projects since 1997 and an 18-year Port Manatee veteran; and Michael Perez, who was maritime marketing adviser at Port Manatee from 1993 to 2000.
Tyndal, whose achievements including leading an effort to win a $9 million federal grant for the port, generated mixed reactions from authority members.
Carol Whitmore said she would prefer a candidate “a little more out in the port world” and “someone who’s been in a little more places” than Tyndal, whose entire career in port leadership has been at Port Manatee.
Whitmore also noted that more than a dozen people -- including U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and regional business leaders -- had sent letters of recommendation on behalf of Tyndal, which she had chosen not to read to preserve her open-mindedness toward all applicants.
But Donna Hayes said the many letters on Tyndal’s behalf demonstrated his ability to make connections, a quality she said would be essential for the next port executive director. Joe McClash also spoke out in support of including Tyndal in the list of finalists, and search firm representative Sherrill Uyuda noted that Tyndal is respected nationwide for his work at Port Manatee, which also includes crafting memorandums of understanding with Panama in 2009 and 2011.
Tyndal’s career also includes public relations work for Tropicana Products and the Florida Farm Bureau Federation in Gainesville. He earned a bachelor of science in journalism and public relations in 1971 from the University of Florida.
Perez, who left Port Manatee in 2000 to become director of the Port of St. Petersburg, is currently the executive director of Port Harlingen in Texas. Perez also worked for five years as director of business development at the Port of Corpus Christi, where he expanded open storage areas from 35 acres to 110 acres.
While Hayes expressed concern about the frequency of Perez’s job changes, authority chair Larry Bustle said he was impressed that Perez “keeps getting hired at good jobs.”
Uyeda also noted that most of Perez’s job changes since 2000 are the result of layoffs made in response to budget constraints.
Perez’s other positions include director of operations for Deep Ocean Technologies. He earned bachelor of science in nautical industrial technology from the California Maritime Academy in 1983.
The other executive director finalists are:
n Carlos Buqueras, director of business development at Port Everglades since 1993. Buqueras helped increase containerized cargo at Port Everglades by 247 percent from 1990 to 2010. Authority members were impressed that he is bilingual, but some were concerned about poor grammar in some of his submission materials.
Buqueras also worked as international distribution manager for Corning Inc. His education includes master’s degrees in economics and business administration from Universidad de Barcelona in Spain and Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.
n Juan Kuryla, deputy port director at Port Miami since 2009. Kuryla’s career at Port Miami stretches back to 1998, and his previous positions include assistant port director for intergovernmental affairs, promotions and maritime services.
He also worked for Miami-Dade County for 10 years, working his way up from parks and recreation manager to the assistant to the county manager. Uyeda said preliminary research showed that some of his superiors weren’t sure if he had adequate management experience. Kuryla earned a master and bachelor of business administration from Florida International University in 1994 and 1989.
n James Crandles, who became director of planning and development at Port Metro Vancouver earlier this year. Crandles first started at Port Metro Vancouver in 1991, and his positions have included port planning director and real estate director.
Some board members expressed concern about hiring a non-American in light of the modern-day push to “buy local,” and McClash also said Crandles’ “planning mentality” may not be the right fit for the executive director post. Crandles earned a master of business administration from Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University in 2005 and a bachelor of applied arts in urban and regional planning in 1987 from Toronto’s Ryerson University.
n J. David Morgan, executive senior vice president of the South Atlantic region of Ports America since 1993. Morgan has been an executive with Ports America since 1993, and his accomplishments include increasing revenue by $5 million annually and increasing container business.
Morgan was one of the first candidates to apply for the Port Manatee post, Uyuda told the authority. He earned a bachelor of science in marine transportation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., in 1990.
The authority’s “B-list” candidates include Jonathan Daniels, executive director of Port Oswego in New York; Clifton Hickok, owner of CFH International Transportation Consulting in Orlando; and Randy Rogers, director of the Pacific Northwest-Alaska Gateway office of the U.S. Maritime Administration.
Christine Hawes, Herald business writer, can be reached at (941) 745-7081.