Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Port San Antonio executive Jim Perschbach has been tapped to lead the 1,900-acre manufacturing, logistics, aerospace, and cybersecurity hub until a permanent CEO is selected.
The Port San Antonio board of directors convened in closed session Wednesday to interview internal candidates for the position of interim president and CEO following the resignation of Roland Mower last week.
Mower, who left his post amid pressure from the board for new leadership, is serving as a special advisor through Dec. 31, and he will continue to be paid his $330,000 base salary.
Perschbach previously served as the Port’s executive vice president of business development. He was hired in October 2014.
The former Air Force base has grown its list of industrial and commercial tenants under Mower, but City Councilman Greg Brockhouse and board member Marc Whyte said the board aims to hire a CEO with the vision to realize the potential at the Port.
Perschbach said part of that vision is to connect technology buyers and sellers in San Antonio and create a true hub of innovation in the city.
“What we want to do at the Port is not to take away from what’s going on downtown or at the medical center, UTSA, or anywhere else in the community; we want to connect them,” Perschbach said. “You think about what ports are. Ports are places where people and cargo and goods get connected and transported. We want to start doing that with ideas and technologies.”
Home to about 12,000 workers and more than 70 employers in the areas of cybersecurity, aerospace, manufacturing, and logistics — among other industries — the Port had a more than $5 billion impact on the economy in 2016, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
Now that the board has installed an interim top executive, it can begin its CEO search in earnest.
Board Chair Victoria Garcia said the board will begin a conversation around creating a “thoughtful process” for appointing a permanent president and CEO.
“We will be having that discussion forthcoming,” Garcia said. “We just haven’t had [it] yet.”
Garcia said the board met with nine members of the Port’s executive team while selecting an interim leader.
T.J. Mayes, a board member and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff’s chief of staff, said the goal of the one-on-one meetings was to assess what each executive team member felt was the vision for the Port and solicit suggestions on how to improve its operations moving forward.
“The senior staff was united around a common vision for Port San Antonio, and its role in the community,” Mayes said. “The second takeaway from the process, which was very deliberative, was that Jim Perschbach has the full confidence of the Port San Antonio board of directors.”
Mayes said Perschbach’s years of experience in the manufacturing industry, as well as his emergence as a thought leader in the cybersecurity space, make him uniquely positioned to propel the Port forward and expand its national and regional profile.
Perschbach, who spent 18 years as an attorney representing clients in the aviation and defense industries, said the Port will aim to enhance its current industries, such as aviation, by linking those experts with experts in cybersecurity, for example.
“[The aviation industry is] just now starting to wake up to the fact that there are challenges out there,” he said. “And so it really is simple: Let’s get the people together. Let’s build off of what we do well in San Antonio and create a market for that. We don’t want to be Silicon Valley, Austin, or Boston; we want to be San Antonio.”