Hauer at home as new director at county port

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; When former executive director Pat Murphy retired earlier this year, the Natchez-Adams Port Commission didn’t have to travel far in its search for a new director.

In fact, they didn’t even have to travel off their property, for their choice &045; Anthony Hauer &045; has been the facility’s assistant director for 19 1/2 years.

Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that Hauer &045; who served as interim director before being officially appointed director last week &045; already looks comfortable in his seat overlooking the docks and the river beyond.

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Or that he can rattle off port statistics and business figures with ease and already has a good idea of what his goals will be for the facility.

But his qualifications for the position may have formed much earlier.

As the son of a man who once worked attending the beacons along the river &045; &uot;that’s back when they used kerosene,&uot; he noted &045; Hauer said it might be suitable that he ended up in a job tied so closely to the mighty Mississippi.

&uot;It’s my heritage,&uot; Hauer said.

Consider this as well: Hauer majored in political science, then business management and administration, giving him tools he’d need to navigate both the political and business aspects of his job.

He also worked in county government in Wilkinson County, as well as in other jobs in cities up and down the Mississippi River, such as Vicksburg and New Orleans, before coming back home to Adams County.

As assistant director, Hauer’s job was to assist the director with all facets of the port’s operation, from shipping, receiving and maintenance to customer service and quality control.

It hasn’t all gone smoothly. The closing of manufacturing facilities in Adams County in recent years &045; most notably, International Paper’s Natchez mill earlier this summer &045; has offset the port’s business by two-thirds, he estimated.

The port now relies much on the shipping of silica sand, deactivated clay, grain and other bulk products as well as business from existing Miss-Lou industries like Alcoa.

But Hauer isn’t willing to be content with that level of business.

Instead, in the director’s seat, Hauer already has two priorities he would like to work on first to move the facility to the next level.

One is implementing a new schedule of preventive maintenance to help keep equipment costs low.

But what really gets Hauer going is discussing his plans to market the port.

He said he plans to update the port’s presence on the Internet as well as using more conventional methods of marketing &045; &uot;telephone, tell a friend,&uot; as he put it.

&uot;I also plan to work closely with economic development (officials) to get industries here,&uot; Hauer said.

&uot;Business is slow now, Š but just one phone call could be a million dollars worth of business,&uot; he added.

The motto the port had when he arrived to work there, Hauer said, is still true: &uot;We can handle it.&uot;

How much of an asset is a well-equipped, well-staffed port to the economic development of a city or county?

&uot;To have immediate access to the river, to be able to produce something and have that immediate access to transportation, Š it would be a leading edge for any industry,&uot; Hauer said.

Hauer is careful not to get the public’s hopes up about the chances for new industry, at least at first, but he’s confident the port can and will play a role in landing prospects. &uot;I pledge not to throw the towel in dry,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m going to bring it in wet.&uot;