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Q&A with Slader Atkinson, Regional Director – Gulf

May 9, 2017

ContainerPort Group, Inc. (CPG) is pleased to announce the addition of Slader Atkinson to the CPG team as Regional Director of the Gulf Region. Slader is an experienced logistician and leader with a strong background in transportation. As Regional Director-Gulf, Atkinson is excited to seek growth and competitive advantage for CPG in the Gulf region, beginning with Houston, TX. His skills will cultivate effective business relationships and enable him to oversee and develop a demanding intermodal market for CPG.

How did you get your start in this industry?
S.A. - "I grew up in the industry. My parents owned a regional trucking company in the timber and logging industry. I remember passing out checks to the drivers at 8 years old. I thought would go to college to get out of trucking, but I’ve never left. It’s been a great career choice."

You bring more than 20 years of experience, most recently as Terminal Manager, Regional Operations Manager and General Manager. How did you grow professionally?
S.A. - "I have been able to wear many hats and learn all aspects of this business. Each position I’ve excelled at has been a professional learning experience. I’ve opened up operations before, so I know what to expect before I implement. I’ve even been able to see my terminal named “Terminal of the Year” for growth, safety standards and efficient operations. These are all talents that contribute to my ability to be a better leader and grow."

What attracted you to CPG?
S.A. - "Initially what set CPG apart is that they provide a lot of centralized support, which allows me to focus on the core business. After doing my own research, I realized CPG is family owned and there is longevity here. I started adding up years from just three leadership members and their careers totaled over 100 years of experience in the industry. They are military friendly, visionary and have a lot of tenure."

What projects are you most proud of?
S.A. - "I completed 23 years of service in the United States Army Reserves, doing transportation and logistics work. I’ve spent time in Kuwait, Korea and Puerto Rico. I earned several medals, including AAM, ARCOM and NDSM. I just retired three weeks ago on Feb. 28th, 2017. It was a huge part of my life and am very proud of it."

In your role as Regional Director (overseeing the Gulf region), what does your typical workday look like?
S.A. - "My typical workday will never be the same. It will include start-up operations in the Houston and Dallas areas. I will often work with our recruitment center and the Independent Contractor fleet. I relate to the drivers in this industry and I am happy to provide opportunities for them in the Gulf region. I will also offer staffing support and build relationships with customers."

The Gulf region is a new market for CPG, what are your goals in developing this market? What challenges do you expect to overcome?
S.A. - "The Houston area is a major chemical corridor for the United States. It has a good balance of 50/50 import and export, and there is strong competition. This new market will help CPG build upon existing relationships with a lot of our customers. Many are already doing business with us in our current network, and they are excited to extend their use of our services into the Gulf. Additionally, with the recent Panama Canal expansion, the Houston area will provide an advantage to customers who normally utilize ports on the West Coast. These customers typically encounter extra fees due to environmental and other regulations in that area – by rerouting their shipments through the Panama Canal and into the Gulf, we can provide customers with exceptional service and substantially reduce their costs by avoiding these fees."

"Our goal is to have a large base of Independent Contractors operating in Houston by the end of the year, and I see us easily adding that capacity moving forward as our customer base and brand gains more momentum and confidence in our reliability and professional staff and drivers."

What are three things your co-workers might not know about you?
S.A. - "I don’t share this often, but my iTunes playlist ranges from Southern Gospel, to Country and Lil Wayne (this always surprises people). I am the assistant coach for my daughter’s private volleyball league and am a certified referee and scorer. I once caught a 120 lb. sailfish while vacationing in Costa Rica and I love to fish anywhere, anytime, any day. I’ve spent a long time in Houston, but my family is split between Louisiana and Texas – both of which I consider home."

Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her.
S.A. - "Yes, Ron Drogan and Jim Kramer. Both leaders of the intermodal industry with a great deal of knowledge and leadership and grew up through the ranks of working in the field to developing as managers and executives over time. Jim has been very instrumental in my onboarding and showing me the processes for the company as well as our vision for the Gulf. I have seen first-hand their thoughts and ideas come to fruition. I also have many military mentors from my past experiences. I’d like to personally thank Chief Elliott Velez, my commander for 15+ years."

What advice would you give to someone interested in your field?
S.A. - "You have the ability to affect a tremendous amount of people, and you can actually see your effect on them and their livelihoods. You have to keep a good reputation. Don’t be afraid of growth and expansion. We need to support and mold to the needs of our customers. This is a challenging industry to be in, but the payoff is extremely rewarding."