Port of Vancouver hires new chief commercial officer

Six-year veteran from GE to succeed retiring Smith as head of marketing, sales

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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The job of marketing and promoting the Port of Vancouver’s growing list of assets is changing hands.

The port announced Tuesday afternoon that Alastair Smith, the chief of marketing and sales, will retire in March and that it has tapped a six-year veteran from the conglomerate General Electric Corp. to replace him.

Smith joined the port in 2003. His latest duties included running a team that did everything from crunch trade analytics to venture out on transpacific sales calls to land tenants and generate revenues at the port.

That job now falls to Alex Strogen, a 1999 graduate of Texas A&M University who last helped lead GE’s global maritime operations, according to his LinkedIn page. He will make the move to Vancouver from Greenville, S.C.

Strogen will oversee the port’s industrial tenants, which typically lease space for manufacturing and other jobs too heavy for an office building, as well as the marine tenants that ship and receive commodities all over.

Port spokeswoman Abbi Russell said Strogen’s duties will mirror Smith’s, where he will travel extensively to build relationships, as well as ensuring current tenants are content.

“He’ll have to balance both,” she said.

With the title of chief commercial officer, Strogen will take the lead on the port’s growing list of assets.

Between spring and summer, the port is expected to open a 125,000-square-foot complex called the Centennial Industrial Building, a future site for one large tenant or up to five smaller tenants. The Port of Vancouver is currently at 99 percent occupancy.

Also in the spring, the port will finish its West Vancouver Freight Access Project, which connects Terminal 5 to the rest of port property. The port has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade to develop the terminal for marine tenants but has not yet secured a tenant.

Vancouver Energy, which would have been Terminal 5’s first tenant, was dealt a blow Nov. 28 when its proposed $210 million crude-by-rail project was recommended for rejection by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council.

Strogen’s responsibilities will also seep into restaurants, hotels and apartments. The Port of Vancouver is in the process of developing 10 acres of mixed-use space at the former Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay.

Russell said that Strogen, as CCO, will work closely with the Chief Operations Officer Kent Cash. Both will try to ensure the port procedures run smoothly to keep tenants happy and remain attractive to potential tenants.

“It’s definitely a team effort,” she said.

Strogen’s first day will be Jan. 16.