Speaker List

Brian K. Robbins

Executive Vice President, Chief Supply Chain Officer | Floor and Decor

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Brian K. Robbins is Executive Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer for Floor and Decor.  He has been with the Company since April 2013. Prior to Floor and Decor, Mr. Robbins held senior supply chain or senior merchandising executive roles with three portfolio companies of Cerberus Capital Management since 2009.  He has also held senior supply chain roles with GE and DuPont, and was a Merchandise Vice President with Home Depot. Early in his career, Mr. Robbins received his CPA certificate and held various accounting positions with Grant Thornton, Scripps Howard and Price Waterhouse Coopers.  Mr. Robbins is a graduate of Miami University with a BS degree in Industrial Management and has an Accounting Equivalency from Ohio State University.


Cliff Pyron

Chief Commercial Officer | Georgia Ports Authority

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Cliff Pyron is responsible for providing strategic leadership of the Georgia Ports Authority's business development and trade development activities. His principal accountability is to develop all commercial activities in order to sustain long-term growth and market share leadership. This includes all sales, marketing, economic development, promotional, trade show, and agency relations activities. Additionally, he collaborates with the executive management team to develop and execute the Authority's strategic plan, providing direction and oversight for success in the marketplace.

With a BS degree in Business Administration from East Carolina University, Pyron has more than 30 years of experience in the liner and logistics sector of the maritime industry. Prior to his appointment to the GPA in 2008, he served as Vice President - Sales, for NYK Line - North America in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Pyron had previously worked at Maersk-Sealand as Vice President - Sales, Southeast Region and was with the organization for a combined total of 19 years, more than five years in Hong Kong with Sea-Land Service, Inc. as General Manager, Hong Kong & So. China. He has had various liner, logistics, operational, marketing and back office support management capacities.


Clint McFarland

Associate Executive Director | USDA-APHIS-PPQ-Field Operations

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Clint McFarland attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and Environmental Science as a double major in 1998.  Clint then went on to earn a Master’s of Science in Entomology from the University of Florida in 2000.  Clint started to work for the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)-Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) after earning his degrees.  He worked on forest pest issues in the Northeastern part of the United States at the beginning of his career.  A couple years ago Clint decided to take on a new position within PPQ focusing on imports and trade for the country out of Raleigh, NC.  He is currently an Associate Executive Director within PPQ and has oversight over its Exclusion and Imports Program and searching for more ways to facilitate trade in the various ports across the United States.


David J. Arsenault

President | Logistics Transformation Solutions, LLC

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Mr. David J. Arsenault is President and Founder of Logistics Transformation Solutions, LLC providing supply chain consulting services across all industry verticals including logistics providers and consumers.  Prior to starting this company, he was President and CEO of Hyundai Merchant Marine America & Hyundai America Shipping Agency responsible for all commercial and operational activities in North, Central & South America. Dave joined HMM in 2004 where he was initially responsible for sales before assuming the role in 2014 as the 1st and only localized chief executive at HMM tasked with leading the organization through some of the most challenging times in their 40-year history.  

Mr. Arsenault has been in the industry for over 30 years and has extensive experience in operations, sales, trade management and logistics.  During his 13 years at Sea-Land he held various management positions of increased responsibility including 5 years in Asia where he served as Country Manager in Thailand and General Manager in Taiwan. Following the acquisition of Sea-Land by Maersk in 1999, he played an instrumental role in the integration of Buyers Consolidators with Mercantile to create Maersk Logistics.

Dave also spent 5 years on the technology side of the industry starting at GT Nexus where he managed the integration of ocean carriers to the portal while establishing the business processes to support the e-Business platform. He then transitioned to Globe Wireless, a maritime communications and technology company, as Senior VP of Sales & Marketing where he was responsible for managing their global network.

Dave is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nautical Science and Marine Transportation, a 3rd Mates License as a Merchant Marine Officer for vessels of unlimited tonnage as well as a commission as a U.S. Naval Reserve Officer.  


Dr. Walter Kemmsies

Managing Director, Economist and Chief Strategist, Ports, Airports and Global Infrastructure | Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

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Dr. Walter Kemmsies is a Managing Director, Economist and Chief Strategist for JLL’s U.S. Ports, Airports and Global Infrastructure Group. In this role, he executes initiatives for public and private sector clients who have interests in or properties proximate to seaports and airports throughout North America. He is also working to expand the U.S. Ports, Airports and Global Infrastructure Group’s expertise to the infrastructure sector and assist both public agencies and investors in underwriting, financing and evaluating new investment vehicles and opportunities.

Kemmsies is widely viewed as one of the foremost experts on ports, rail and infrastructure in the U.S. His areas of expertise include, but are not limited to, demand forecasting, maritime and overall global trade regulatory issues, public/private port and infrastructure financing as well as long term strategic planning/capital investment. Kemmsies’ professional experience working in Europe, Latin America and Asia uniquely qualifies him as a global trade economist.

Kemmsies currently advises several major U.S. Port Authorities and is routinely asked to work on complex issues with various investment banks, private equity firms and public regulatory agencies. He provides substantial support to the freight movement industry via a monthly column in American Shipper, presentations at major international industry conferences, and advising the U.S. Department of Commerce on supply chain competitiveness. Kemmsies recently testified to the U.S. Senate Transportation and Commerce Subcommittee on issues affecting the freight industry. He has also published research in scholarly journals.

Prior to joining JLL, Kemmsies was the Chief Economist for Moffat & Nichol, a leading global infrastructure advisement firm. Preceding his experience working with Moffatt & Nichol, he was the Head of European Strategy at JP Morgan in London and, earlier, Head of Global Industry Strategy at UBS in Zurich and London.   

Kemmsies is an advisor to the U.S. Department of Commerce Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness and the Department of Transportation’s National Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Valuation.  He is a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, National Association of Business Economists, and International Association of Energy Economists.

Kemmsies holds a Doctorate degree in Economics from Texas A&M University, a Master of Arts in Economics from Florida Atlantic University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Florida Atlantic University.


Griffith V. Lynch

Executive Director | Georgia Ports Authority

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Griff Lynch is the Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority, an 1,100-person strong state port authority that owns and operates strategic gateways serving the U.S. Southeast. 

As Executive Director, Lynch oversees all port activity involving the deepwater ports of Savannah and Brunswick, as well as inland terminal operations in Bainbridge and Columbus.  Directing one of Georgia’s largest economic engines, he administers a $280 million annual budget.

Before becoming executive director, Lynch served as GPA chief operating officer for five years. As COO of the single largest container terminal in North America and second busiest U.S. auto port, he was responsible for sustaining the profitable growth and development of all operations, and maintaining world-class operating standards. His duties included overseeing ambitious capital improvement and development programs for five deep water ports and two inland terminals while maintaining strong relationships with numerous customers, labor officials and supply chain partners.

A proven leader in the maritime industry, Lynch brings more than 27 years of experience in the design and implementation of major port expansions, the effective execution of sustainable profit and productivity models and identifying winning sales and marketing strategies.

Lynch graduated from the State University of New York at Maritime College in 1988 and immediately began his training as a vessel planner. Over the course of his career, Lynch held executive positions in both sales and operations at terminals in New York and Virginia before joining the GPA in 2011.


Herschel Walker

Former Professional American Football Player, Heisman Trophy Winner, College Football Hall of Fame, Mixed Martial Artist

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Herschel Walker may have retired from football over 15 years ago, but he continues to leave an untouchable athletic legacy. Walker’s success began on the gridiron in high school. Completing over 3,000 rushing yards, he caught the eye of the University of Georgia where he signed in 1980. The running back was a three-time All-American and earned the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. He is the only NCAA player to finish in the top three in Heisman voting in all three of his collegiate seasons. In 1999, Walker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

In 1983, Walker signed with the United State’s Football League’s New Jersey Generals. He stayed in New Jersey for three seasons breaking the record for single-season rushing yards in 1985. Walker’s NFL career began as the Dallas Cowboys’ fifth-round draft pick. While with the Cowboys, Walker played seven positions: halfback, fullback, tight end, H-back and wide receiver, both in the slot and as a flanker. In 1990 he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for five players and six draft picks.

In the early 90s, Walker channeled his offseason downtime productively by joining the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. He competed in the 1992 Olympic Games, placing seventh in the two-men bobsled.

Walker went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants before returning to the Cowboys to retire in 1997. During Walker’s illustrious career, he made two Pro Bowl teams (1987, 1988), was named one of Sport Illustrated’s “NCAA Football All-Century Team” and he continues to hold the record for the only player to gain 4,000 yards in three different ways: rushing, receiving and kickoff returns.

In 2009, at the age of 48, Walker began training at the American Kickboxing Academy for mixed martial arts. He competed in two professional Strikeforce matches, winning both.

Herschel also competed on and won season 3 of Racheal vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off on the Food Network and was a contestant on the second season of Celebrity Apprentice.

Walker currently resides in Atlanta.


James L. Allgood, Jr.

Chairman | Georgia Ports Authority Board, 2017 GFTC General Chairman

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James L. Allgood is chairman of the Board of Allgood Pest Solutions, a company he started in 1974. He was chairman of the Structural Pest Control Commission for 20 years and is past president of the Georgia Pest Control Association. He has served as chairman of the Dublin-Laurens County Development Authority, the Dublin Rotary Club, and the First United Methodist Church board. Allgood earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, was a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 1993, and was president of Leadership Georgia in 1996. He and his wife, Kathy, have three children and three grandchildren. They reside in Dublin.


John M. Cheatham

Vice President, Logistics | Graphic Packaging International

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John M. Cheatham is Vice President, Logistics for Graphic Packaging International (GPI) headquartered in Atlanta, GA. As part of their Supply Chain organization, he is responsible for shipping their manufactured products across the globe. He has been with the company since January 2014. Prior to joining GPI, Cheatham held executive roles with Oldcastle, Inc. and Pitney Bowes Corporation since 1999. Cheatham is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a BS degree in Engineering, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a MS degree in Operations Research, and holds a MBA from Long Island University.


Kevin Roberts

Senior Analyst Autofacts, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC

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Kevin Roberts is a senior automotive analyst for PwCs’ Autofacts® in Detroit, Michigan.

Roberts serves as the Americas leader of PwC’s Autofacts group. He is responsible for maintaining the current and future outlook for North and South America, as well the development of research and analysis on a variety of topics and trends affecting the industry.

Roberts joined PwC in 2008 where he has authored numerous thought leadership pieces on North American automotive sales, automotive finance, and automotive economic outlook, among others.

Roberts is a 2005 graduate of Hillsdale College and holds a BA in Mathematics and Economics.  He is also a 2007 graduate of Walsh College and holds a MS in Economics.


Mike Abrashoff

Former Commander, USS Benfold and Author, It’s Your Ship

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Mike Abrashoff is at the center of one of the most remarkable modern day stories of organizational transformation. At the age of 36, the Navy selected him to become Commander of USS Benfold. At the time he was the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet – on a ship that was plagued by low morale, high turnover and abysmal performance evaluations. Few thought that the ship could improve – yet 12 months later the ship was ranked #1 in performance – using the same crew. People were amazed and the lesson was clear – leadership matters and culture is everything.

In many ways, the USS Benfold was actually an extreme example of the same problems facing many organizations today. That’s why dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company have cited Abrashoff’s story as an inspiring lesson for business. Leaders especially identify with his situation; being accountable for the results in an environment where he couldn’t make the rules.

Abrashoff is clear, “I didn’t turn the ship around – my crew did that. What I did was to reinvent my leadership style and create an environment where they felt safe, empowered and supported. When they came to me with a problem, I’d say ‘It’s your ship – how would you fix it?’.” He focused on the one thing he could influence: his crew’s attitude, because culture is the ultimate competitive weapon for any organization.

Abrashoff’s solution was to establish a set of management principles that he calls The Leadership Roadmap. At the core of his leadership approach on Benfold was a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion, and engaging the hearts, minds, and loyalties of workers with conviction and humility. “The most important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew. The idea is to empower every individual to share the responsibility of achieving excellence.”

By every measure, these principles achieved breakthrough results. Turnover decreased to an unprecedented 1%. The rate of promotions tripled, and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25%. Regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, Benfold won the prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness. This remarkable change was accomplished by the same crew.

Abrashoff is author of three books. His first, It’s Your Ship, has sold over one million copies. Its message is timeless: don’t use outside forces that stand in your way as excuses – control

the things you can influence and amazing results will happen. His next books, It’s Our Ship and Get Your Ship Together, showed how these principles have been put into action by business leaders in their own organizations.


Nathan Deal

Governor State of Georgia

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Since taking office in 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal has led Georgia to become the No. 1 state in the nation for business for four years in a row - a first in Georgia history - and helped create more than 570,000 private sector jobs. In the last six years, Georgia’s job growth has outpaced the national average, while its population has jumped from 10th to 8th nationally.

Through tax reform, workforce development and investment in education and infrastructure, the state continues to grow local small businesses and attract top companies from around the world. During Gov. Deal’s tenure, Georgia has become a global destination for companies in a wide range of industries. Under Deal’s leadership, Georgia has produced six balanced budgets, saved millions of taxpayer dollars by maintaining Georgia’s AAA bond rating and grown the Rainy Day Reserve Fund to more than $2 billion.

In order to keep up with infrastructure demand, Deal implemented a number of investments in Georgia’s transportation system. Deal worked with the General Assembly on the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, which included a number of significant infrastructure projects and will generate $10 billion in new transportation funding over 10 years. Transportation projects under Deal have alleviated traffic and improved safety, including the completion of the Jimmy DeLoach Parkway extension near the Port of Savannah. To track the progress of infrastructure projects, the GA Roads website was launched to provide unprecedented clarity and transparency in these investments. Georgia’s infrastructure projects and transparency measures are currently being used as a model for other states across the nation.

Deal believes a strong education system leads to a strong economy. He has made investments in education a top priority to strengthen the workforce pipeline that runs from the classroom to the job market.

A Sandersville native, Deal served in the U.S. Army at Fort Gordon in Augusta after graduating with college and law degrees with honors from Mercer University. He then began a private law practice in Gainesville, the hometown of his wife, Sandra Deal. While his wife taught in Hall County public schools, Deal began a career in public service, working as a prosecutor, judge, state senator and U.S. Congressman for Georgia’s 9th District. The Deals have four adult children and six grandchildren.


Pat Wilson

Commissioner | Georgia Department of Economic Development

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Pat Wilson was appointed Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) by Governor Nathan Deal in November 2016. As Commissioner, he leads the state agency responsible for creating jobs and investment opportunities in Georgia through business recruitment and expansion, international trade and tourism, as well as the arts, film and music industries. 

Mr. Wilson previously served as Chief Operating Officer of the Georgia Department of Economic Development since January 2011. As COO, he managed the daily operations of the agency, directed long-term strategy, and handled budgetary and personnel issues for all department divisions. He managed the agency’s legislative priorities and interaction with the Georgia General Assembly, including yearly budget negotiations and passage of major policy initiatives into law. He was also the department’s liaison with the Georgia Congressional delegation and federal government partners. In this role, Mr. Wilson served as the GDEcD intergovernmental liaison, working with other state government departments and agencies to streamline and navigate regulations for major project locations, expansions and film productions. Pat was also involved in the department’s international strategy as well as overseeing trade and foreign direct investment for China. He also served as Executive Director of the Georgia Allies, a public-private marketing partnership between state government and 15 private corporations that pools resources to aggressively promote the state’s business development priorities. 

Mr. Wilson joined GDEcD as Deputy Commissioner for Global Commerce in 2010. Prior to that, he served on the staff of Governor Sonny Perdue as the director of government affairs.  In that position, he led efforts to promote Governor Perdue’s legislative agenda at the State Capitol and managed federal affairs for the state of Georgia. He previously served as director of federal affairs for the state, opening the Washington, D.C. office in 2005. There he worked to promote the state’s agenda with the U.S. Congress and federal agencies as the Governor’s representative to the Georgia congressional delegation. 

Prior to his work in state government, Mr. Wilson was director of governmental affairs for Greenberg Traurig, LLP, in Washington. He served under the late Sen. Paul Coverdell and under then-Rep. Nathan Deal, now Governor of Georgia. 

He is a Franklin Springs, Georgia native, and holds an undergraduate degree in political science with a focus on international relations from the University of Georgia. He and his wife Melissa and their two children, Padgett, 10, and Carter, 7, reside in Sandy Springs.


Philip Damas

Director - Supply Chains Advisors | Drewry

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Philip Damas is in charge of Drewry Supply Chain Advisors, the logistics practice of the Drewry group, and is a director of Drewry Shipping Consultants. Prior to joining Drewry in 2005, Damas worked for CMA CGM and the container shipping consortium Cobra in various management and financial control roles until 1990. He then spent the 1990s analyzing the logistics policies of exporters/importers and of logistics service providers when working with American Shipper and Containerisation International. Damas then became a founding director of the shipping research and database company ComPairData. At Drewry, Damas has advised exporters, importers, lenders and ports on logistics, freight rates, sea freight procurement, supply chains and markets. He has presented papers at conferences in Asia, the United States and Europe. Damas holds an MBA from the University of Bradford Management Centre and a B.Sc. and M.Sc. Finance from the University of Strasbourg.


Russell R. McMurry, P.E.

Commissioner | Georgia Department of Transportation

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On Jan. 20, 2015, Commissioner Russell R. McMurry, P.E. was appointed by the State Transportation Board to lead the Georgia Department of Transportation – a $3.6 billion, 4,000-employee state agency responsible for planning, designing, constructing, maintaining and operating Georgia’s state owned transportation system.

Georgia has the 10th largest transportation system in the country.

He began his career with the Department in 1990 as an engineering trainee and has served in a variety of roles that include Construction Project Manager, District Engineer, Director of Engineering and Chief Engineer. McMurry was also appointed by Governor Nathan Deal as Planning Director before he began his role as Commissioner.

McMurry graduated Cum Laude from Georgia Southern University and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Georgia.


Tan Hua Joo

Executive Consultant | Alphaliner

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Tan Hua Joo is Executive Consultant with Alphaliner. He is the founder and editor of the Alphaliner Weekly and Monthly reports. He has over twenty years of experience in the container shipping industry and has held senior positions in leading container shipping, container leasing and ship owning companies.

Mr. Tan graduated with a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University and holds an MBA from Stanford University.


William L. Ralph

Maritime Economist | R. K. Johns & Associates

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Bill Ralph is an experienced economist who has researched and published global trade forecasts and analyses of container transportation for domestic and international ports, ocean carriers, investment banks and government agencies.  He joined R.K. Johns & Associates thirteen years ago after a 15-year career with the Journal of Commerce and its sister company PIERS (Port Import Export Reporting Service).  Bill rose through the ranks at the JOC/PIERS under the ownership of the Economist magazine to become President and Publisher of the company.

At R. K. Johns & Associates, Bill and his colleagues provide commercially focused consulting with an entrepreneurial outlook to all segments of the transportation and logistics industries.  Ken Johns, the former President of Sea-Land Service, established the firm in 1987.

Prior to the JOC/PIERS, Bill spent ten years in the maritime and transportation industries as an Economist for the U.S. Panama Canal Commission, for Sea-Land Corporation and for Chase Econometrics (a division of the Chase Manhattan Bank).  Mr. Ralph holds a BA in Economics from the University of Delaware and an MA in Resource Economics from the University of Rhode Island. 

Bill serves on numerous community boards and industry advisory panels and as Trustee for Holiday Express a volunteer nonprofit organization delivering music, toys, clothing, food and fun to the needy in the tri-state NY/NJ/CT area.