Norfolk – The long-time leader of Virginia International Terminals (VIT), Joseph A. Dorto, today announced to the employees of VIT and the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) that he will be retiring at the end of March.
"It's time; I've been here for 34 years and it is time," Dorto said. "You always hear, 'leave on a high note' and we just completed the second best year in our history, so I think this is the right time."
Dorto joined the Virginia Port Authority in 1979 as the director of trade development shortly after all of the municipally-owned general cargo terminals in the Hampton Roads Harbor were unified under the VPA flag.
Nine years later Dorto moved over to the VPA's private terminal operating company, VIT, where he eventually became its chief executive officer. Dorto, throughout his career in Virginia, has had the responsibility of negotiating contracts with global steamship lines that call at The Port of Virginia. It was Dorto who was instrumental in getting 95 percent of the steamship lines calling the port signed to long-term, 10-year contracts.
"Joe has contributed greatly to the long term success the port has enjoyed and he has played a key role in crafting contracts and agreements that have helped make the port the major economic driver it has become," said William H. Fralin, chairman of the VPA's Board of Commissioners. "He developed excellent relationships with all of the partners in the port and we are grateful for his long-term dedication; we will miss him and wish him well in retirement."
Moreover, Dorto played a critical role in negotiating the VPA's 20-year lease with APM Terminals to operate that company's facility in Portsmouth and establishing a second 'port unification' with all of the container terminals under the control of the VPA. "Bringing that terminal into our operation was my proudest professional accomplishment," he said.
"I will miss him greatly as a colleague and friend," said Rodney W. Oliver, the VPA's interim executive director. "His announcement comes at a time when the port has re-established its volumes and is rebounding from the downturn in the economy. He sees that the port is back on track and capable of continuing to build on the very strong foundation that he helped to establish. His leadership will be missed and we all express our appreciation to him for all that he has contributed."
Dorto's last day will be March 31.
"He has delayed this announcement a few times because he wanted to see the port through the change of command at VPA, through to the end of very successful 2012 and through the threat of the strike by labor," said Charlotte Herndon, chairwoman of the VIT Board of Directors. "We're sad to see him go, but glad he is finally able to do so: this decision is his and no one else's and that is very important from my perspective."
At the regularly scheduled Jan. 22 VPA board meeting, the board of commissioners will vote of the appointment of Joseph P. Ruddy as the successor to Dorto. Ruddy is VIT's executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Above: Dorto, left, made his announcement to VIT employees at his annual State-of-the-Port address.