Garcetti nominates shipping executive as Port of Los Angeles director

Cranes take cargo containers from a ship docked in the Port of Los Angeles in April.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday nominated a veteran shipping company executive to become director of the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest harbor for container cargo.

If approved by the City Council, Gene Seroka, 49, head of the Americas division of American President Lines, will replace Geraldine Knatz, whose resignation became effective in December.

Her position is being filled temporarily by Gary Lee Moore, the city engineer.

“I’m confident that Gene will be a strong leader who will enhance our international trade agenda and increase reliability and efficiency through effective management and labor relations,” Garcetti said.


Last year, the port handled more than 165 metric tons of cargo worth $285.4 billion and the equivalent of 7.9 million 20-foot shipping containers. It operates 24 cargo and passenger terminals and generates more than 830,000 jobs in the region.

Seroka, who was recruited with the help of an executive search firm, has more than 21 years of experience in the shipping and logistics industry.

He joined American President Lines in 1988 after earning a bachelor’s of science degree in marketing and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans.

Over the years, Seroka rose from a sales support position in APL’s Cincinnati office to a variety of senior executive positions in charge of logistics operations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

He was in charge of more than 1,000 employees and all of APL’s sales and operations in North, Central and South America.

Seroka also has overseen the company’s four marine terminals in the United States and intermodel operations, involving ships, trucks and freight railroads. APL operates a terminal in the Port of Los Angeles.

Seroka is someone who “knows what it takes to compete for business in the private sector,” said Gary Toebben, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “That kind of background speaks well for his potential to maintain and grow the Port of Los Angeles.”