Tim Cahill has been involved in business development, particularly dealing with bulk commodities and the marine industry, in a career spanning several decades.
From starting his own company at a young age, selling it to (and working for) a global conglomerate, and working as a consultant, he has always looked for new opportunities.
Now in his early 60s, he has found his latest opportunity as the new executive director of the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority.
“Basically I managed commodities,” Cahill said, of the company he started in the Norfolk, Virginia area. “I grew it to manage a lot of commodities in North America and South America and then sold it (in 2007) to Inchcape Shipping Services.”
He worked for Inchcape until 2017, rising to one of three chief operating officer positions while there, responsible for the company’s cargo solutions business unit helping drive revenue through its 300 offices in 70 countries.
He has been on the job at the Paducah riverport since June 1.
“I’ve been lucky to basically grow up in the (commodities) business. I’ve done it my whole life,” he said.
“I had visited both the Calvert City and Paducah Southern Coal Handling facilities a number of times both when I owned my own company and as a consultant for other companies,” said Cahill.
After a “friend of a friend” put him in touch with a headhunter about the Paducah position, and doing his own analysis, he saw the move as a good opportunity.
“The reason I say that is when you look at Owensboro and Hickman and Henderson, you look where they were let’s say 10 years ago and look where they are today, they’re pretty dynamic riverports and from what I call a true riverport operating mentality,” said Cahill.
“This facility is basically multi-use. We have what I call a good bulk material yard. We have great long-term business partners, which are the folks at Pine Bluff Materials and Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel. They’ll be business partners with the port for a long time.”
The riverport board’s decision to enter into a long-term arrangement with Southern FS for a fertilizer-handling facility on site is another example, Cahill said.
The Foreign Trade Zone designation, infrastructure in place including the large blue crane in the general cargo area and smaller green crane used to unload bulk commodities, and Paducah’s unique position in the inland waterways system, also present opportunities, the executive director said.
In addition, “Any time you have resources available like the Ingram folks, Crounse, Marquette, all of them, there’s always opportunities to learn from others and share information and create mutual opportunities.
“We’re a service industry, they are a service industry. How we can help each other is key.”
Cahill sees his role, and the role of the riverport, as being able to “create the most economical, logistical solution which will then provide opportunity for business to locate here, which in turn drives jobs and increases revenue and taxes.
“So, ultimately, as I tell anyone I meet, whether it’s a piece of business that’s going to move through this port or a piece of business somewhere else in the county or in another county, if we can assist in any way to do that, we’ve done our job.”
Currently, Cahill sees revenue growth opportunity in the riverport’s bulk yard.
“My initial responsibility is to engage with my team and they have done an excellent job,” he said, including coming up with a way to increase storage capacity on site.
“The guys down there, I can’t say enough about the way they have been working. We unloaded 44 barges in the month of June, and done 32 each month since.”
Some recent projects include handling materials for the Cairo bridge project, sand for the construction project for Interstate 24 improvements at Cadiz, and the coal ash facility for TVA’s Shawnee plant.
“We already did 90 (thousand) tons in the spring and now we’ve got 180,000 to go, which is going to kick off hopefully the end of this month or the beginning of next,” he said.
“If you don’t have the product on the ground, you can’t meet the requirements of the job.” he said.
“The team in the bulkyard, they have reconfigured the way we store different projects to open up some areas and therefore be able to put more product on the ground, so we can load more trucks faster.”
According to Cahill, the riverport is working on a couple of other opportunities for new business in the future.
“Going forward, we have to identify the opportunities, find ways to grow our business, and hopefully with my experience, we’re going to be able to do that.”