Buqueras pegged as Port Manatee's new executive director

Top Port Everglades official chosen over four other candidates

chawes@bradenton.comOctober 25, 2011 

MANATEE -- Carlos Buqueras, a top official at Port Everglades who has been instrumental in increasing container cargo there, is Port Manatee’s choice as its next executive director.

The authority that oversees the port chose Buqueras over four other candidates after a day of interviews Friday.

Buqueras, who has been director of business development at Port Everglades since 1993, impressed at least two authority members with his focus, stability and potential for international outreach.

“He had very focused and very professional answers,” said Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle, chair of the port authority.

“He’s going to serve us well,” said Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who actually voted for a different candidate. “He’s stable, well-rounded, been at other ports, and speaks three or four languages. I’m totally in support of this decision.”

Among Buqueras’ greatest contributions at Port Everglades, which is located in Fort Lauderdale, is a 247 percent increase in containerized cargo over the past 20 years.

That’s a trend that has continued this year. The magazine Caribbean Today reports that containerized cargo at Port Everglades has grown 14 percent during the first six months of 2011.

Buqueras’ strong record with container cargo is an important factor for Port Manatee, which is also attempting to increase its container capacity and business.

Buqueras also oversaw a 68 percent increase in cruise traffic and was part of a 307 percent increase in Port Everglades’ overall revenue, from $30.6 million in 1990 to $124.6 million in 2010.

Prior to his career with Port Everglades, Buqueras worked for 10 years as international distribution manager with Corning Inc., where he oversaw business and distribution strategy development.

Buqueras and five other finalists were chosen by the authority for interviews out of an initial applicant pool of more than 80. One finalist bowed out prior to Friday’s interviews.

Negotiations have not yet begun with Buqueras, who is in Brazil until the end of the week for a trade mission led by Gov. Rick Scott. Port Manatee’s executive director post carries an annual salary of $150,000 to $190,000.

David McDonald, the port’s current executive director, is retiring at the end of this year after 20 years in the post.

Authority members hope Buqueras will start work in November or December and take some time to be mentored directly by McDonald.

Christine Hawes, Herald business writer, can be reached at (941) 745-7081.

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