Mark Cairns has taken on "the best job" in Tauranga as the new port chief executive - but he's hoping it won't interfere with his great love for fishing.
When he's not running Port of Tauranga, Mr Cairns, 43, will be jumping into his seven-metre aluminium Ramco boat and heading for the fishing fields off Motiti Island.
A former Hawke's Bay representative yachtsman, he turned his attention to fishing when he arrived in the city six years ago. He tries to get out two or three times a month and hooks his share of the snapper.
Napier-born Mr Cairns, married with two young children, was yesterday named the new chief executive of the port, one of the blue-chip companies on the New Zealand Stock Exchange.
"I'm over the moon, as you would expect. It's the best job in Tauranga and the best job in the port industry," said Mr Cairns.
"The company's vision doesn't need changing. It has differentiated itself by wanting to be a port of choice ... it has focused on excellent customer service and world-class productivity and I'm excited by the challenge of carrying this forward."
Mr Cairns already has a keen understanding of the port's operation. He became involved in the company when he was hired as chief executive of its wholly owned subsidiary, Owens Services BOP.
During three years of change under Mr Cairns' leadership, Owens merged with Cargo Co and then settled into a joint venture with Toll NZ. Toll Owens, employing 680 people, provides marshalling and stevedoring services to 11 of the country's 13 ports.
"I arrived (at Owens) in the middle of a forestry downturn and we did have to make some changes," said Mr Cairns. "The merger with Toll Logistics was important to keep us competitive in the future."
Mr Cairns is replacing Jon Mayson, who is retiring after nine years as chief executive and 33 years service at the port, first as a stevedoring foreman in 1972.
Mr Cairns takes over in late October following the port company's annual meeting. Mr Mayson will be staying on until the end of December to "help him get his feet under the desk".
Mr Mayson said the port first employed Mr Cairns to manage Owens: "He's someone we valued and he's proven himself in that role. It's good to see him come through an international search."
From internal applications, Sean Bolt - the former Sulphur Point container wharf manager who became Port of Marlborough chief executive - was considered a serious contender.
The sharemarket reacted positively to Mr Cairns' appointment yesterday, the share price jumping 10c to $4.70. Brokers said they liked the fact that Mr Cairns was part of the management team that had been so successful over a long period of time.
He becomes Port of Tauranga's chief executive at an interesting time. He will keep a close eye on the move by the world's largest shipping line, Maersk, which is taking over P&O; Nedlloyd. The port is at present uncertain whether this will affect its shipping services or trade volume.
On a brighter note, shipping rates for bulk cargo vessels have dropped 50 per cent in the last 12 months - from $32,5700 to less than $16,000 per vessel. Mr Cairns said the new rates could provide a lift in the forestry trade. "There is a demand for logs; it's just a question of where that demand is coming from."
An engineering and business studies graduate of Auckland and Massey universities, Mr Cairns has worked as a construction manager in Napier and Palmerston North, and was national capital projects manager for Transit New Zealand. Mr Cairns and his family moved to Tauranga in 1999 when he joined Fulton Hogan as Mid North general manager and after three years he was head-hunted by the Port of Tauranga.