The Ports of Indiana has named Vanta E. Coda II its next chief executive officer. Coda most recently served as executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, which the organization says is the busiest port district on the Great Lakes. His previous experience also includes an executive role with Jeffersonville-based American Commercial Barge Lines. Coda succeeds Rich Cooper, who is retiring next month after 16 years with the Ports of Indiana.
During a Studio (i) interview, Cooper and Coda discussed future plans for the port, which include tens of millions of dollars in new investment.
The organization says, during Coda’s time with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, he oversaw $24 million in infrastructure renewal products, opened an intermodal terminal and launched the Duluth Connect Initiative. Ports of Indiana Commission Chairman Ken Kaczmarek says Vanta’s "extensive experience"
Cooper was hired in 2001 as chief operating offer and became CEO in 2005. The Ports of Indiana says, in that time, it experienced unprecedented growth and became a completely self-funded operation. Cooper says the last four years have been the best in the organization’s 57-year history, and believes 2018 will continue that pattern.
The Ports of Indiana reported handling 11.8 million tons in 2017, which is a 5 percent increase over 2016 and the second-highest annual shipment total in the organization’s history. In a February interview with Inside INdiana Business, Cooper also cited South Korea-based POSCO’s (NYSE: PKX) $21 million investment in southeast Indiana and California-based Metro Ports launching a major operation in northwest Indiana as major factors in the ports’ growth.
Cooper and Coda also say work continues on a potential fourth Indiana port. Coda says the organization is "up to our elbows in due diligence" with more than a dozen consultants working on the project. The state last year signed a purchase agreement for 725 acres along the Ohio River between Lawrenceburg and Aurora at a former coal plant site.
Coda comes to the ports building on a 25-year logistics career. He began with the Illinois Central Railroad, eventually rising to director of marketing and sales. He has also held leadership positions with Westlake Group of Companies, Dynergy Inc. and Nabors Industries. Cooper expects to stay on through at least March to help with the transition.