New chief takes reins at Port of Toledo

Lorna Davis, the new general manager for the Port of Toledo, poses behind the port’s office with outgoing general manager Bud Shoemake (center) and Jim Pinckney, the new shipyard manager. (Photo by Jeremy Burke)

Port has new general manager, shipyard manager

TOLEDO — There are two new faces in the top leadership at the Port of Toledo, as the longtime general manager prepares to step down.

The Port of Toledo Commission announced last month it hired Lorna Davis, a former executive director of the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, to replace Bud Shoemake, the port’s chief executive the past 16 years. Shoemake gave a six-month notice of his retirement last July.

Davis’s first full-time day was last week — Shoemake is still on the job until the end of the month, and he’s working closely with Davis to make the transition — and on Monday, she was joined by another critical new hire. It was Jim Pinckney’s first day as shipyard manager.

Under Shoemake’s management, the port’s operations and infrastructure expanded dramatically. During his tenure, it grew from having three employees to 36 (although the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced staffing), with even more volunteers.

Shoemake oversaw the purchase of the port’s shipyard in 2010, the recent construction of a $5.1 million, 94-foot high metal maintenance and repair building at the shipyard, the creation of a welding lab in cooperation with Oregon Coast Community College and the Lincoln County School District, the rehabilitation of the industrial park, the first through the 15th annual Wooden Boat Festivals (the 2020 festival was canceled due to the pandemic), the construction of three parks (including Waterfront Park and its paved Depot Slough Path) and countless other projects large and small. Prior to his tenure with the Port of Toledo, he was director of operations and harbormaster at the Port of Newport for 15 years. 

Shoemake is passing some ongoing projects onto Davis, including the installation of sewer service to the shipyard and an update to the port’s five-year strategic plan (Shoemake said they hope to have the plan updated before he leaves at the end of January). His advice for his successors (he was acting shipyard manager before Pinckney came on board): “Hang on.”

“I’m just lucky Lorna and Jim came along, and I’m excited to have that capability here so they can take it to the next level,” Shoemake said.

Davis, who lives in Toledo, was born in England and moved with her family to the Oregon coast as a child. She grew up in Tillamook County, later moving to Lincoln County and working at the Embarcadero before serving as tourism development director for the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce for three years. She then served as the chamber’s executive director from 2008 to 2017.

After leaving the chamber in 2017, Davis worked for Travel Oregon as a global sales manager, overseeing five international teams that promoted tourism to the state from Europe and Asia. When Travel Oregon lost staff due to the pandemic’s hit to transient room tax revenue, she went to work for the Oregon Employment Department, overseeing 35 agents at a new call center, then managed the department’s Pandemic Legislative Inquiries and Escalations team.

She applied for the port manager position when she saw the job posting and heard Shoemake was leaving, having known the outgoing manager for a number of years through her work with the chamber. Her immediate plans: “As long as Bud’s here — paying attention,” she said. “I’m excited to work for such a great entity that has really bolstered economic development in Toledo. The port has a fantastic, robust strategic plan for the next five years that’s being updated right now, and I want to carry on the success that Bud and the commission and the team have built. That’s first and foremost, and of course, all of the other things that have to happen that are critical to operations, such as the septic system and dredging. There’s planned construction, too, so it’s exciting to jump in at a time when there’s going to be lots of opportunities for us, and some of that opportunity will be chasing funding for future development.” Davis also said she was excited to work with the new shipyard manager, who has a wealth of experience in vessel construction and maintenance.

Pinckney has worked in shipyards for 41 years at ports in Florida, Alabama, Alaska, the Bahamas and Oregon. “I worked in the Bahamas for the past seven years as senior project manager. That was a super busy yard, with 130 to 170 projects a year, some of them $100 million a piece. We did 23 to 28 cruise ships a year,” Pinckney said.

“Long-term plans for this shipyard is to get some new builds going so we can have some long-time development, and that’s part of what drew me to the job. This is definitely what I want to do with my life, and I think I can help the community, and that’s a big part of it. I take the responsibility very seriously — a lot of people depend on this,” he said.

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