Port staff selected Chicago-based Heidrick & Struggles as its top applicant for a search firm to seek the next CEO, based on the selection criteria included in the request for proposals.
The top firm was announced Wednesday at the port awards committee meeting after the port Executive Search Firm Selection Committee reviewed all 11 applicants using the criteria.
"The (port's search firm selection committee) is the best selection committee we could've picked –– every senior staff people who did a very good job on this thing," said James Citrano, chairman of the port board of directors.
The committee consisted of Senior Director of Planning and Properties David Kaufman, Senior Director of Facilities Development Joe Miller, Senior Director of Finance Aaron Kendrick and Senior Director of Trade Development and Global Market Raul Alfonso.
"The firms that finished in the top three were so close that we could have picked any one of the three," said Citrano.
On a 100-point scale, Heidrick & Struggles scored a 90, Korn/Ferry International scored an 88 and Spencer Stuart scored an 86.
Scores for the two local companies that applied for the contract, I-Tech Personnel Services and BTG Inc., were 56 and 54, respectively.
The estimated cost for the service is $99,000 plus direct expenses.
The remaining applicants and their scores were Krauthamer & Associates Inc., 82; Alliance Resource Consulting, 75; The Mercer Group Inc., 71; Shey-Harding Associates, 67; Bob Murray & Associates, 63; and JuriStaff, 53.
While Heidrick & Struggles was ranked the highest by three of the four members of the committee, Kaufman scored the company a 70 while three other committee members scored it in the mid- to high 90s. Citrano stated that all the companies would be considered by the board.
The board might also have to convince a potential CEO candidate that he or she will have a stable board of directors to work with after a recent Tampa Bay Times article indicated the contrary.
Former port CEO Paul Anderson was quoted in the Jan. 20 edition of the publication that he was looking for stability in his career and having five different people serve as chairman of the Jacksonville port board of directors didn't offer the stability he sought.
Anderson did not answer or return calls for comment on the article.
Citrano didn't see the rotation of chairman as instability.
"I don't think we had instability. We had board members who had reached the end of their terms and they were not reappointed," he said.
Of the seven board members, the mayor appoints four members, subject to City Council approval, and the governor appoints three members, subject to Senate confirmation.
Citrano and board member John Anderson were appointed by former Mayor John Peyton. Vice Chairman Joe York was appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist. Secretary John Falconetti and member Reginald Gaffney were appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2012. Members John Newman and Robert Spohrer were appointed by Mayor Alvin Brown.
The Jacksonville Port Authority will take another step in choosing its next CEO today when the board votes for the search firm that will find the next port leader.