Port chief quits to join Ferris Baker Watts

February 24, 1994|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Sun Staff Writer

Adrian G. Teel, the executive director of Maryland Port Administration who quietly led the port of Baltimore's resurgence over the past two years, yesterday announced his resignation to become a senior vice president at Ferris Baker Watts Inc. investment banking company.

Under Mr. Teel's direction, the beleaguered port lured new shipping services and steadily regained cargo it had lost during the past decade. The MPA, which operates the state's five public terminals, became profitable in 1992 after losing money for nearly 10 years.

The 51-year-old former Anne Arundel County official also oversaw substantial improvements in historically stormy labor-management relations that had left the port of Baltimore with an internationally tarnished reputation.

Yesterday, Maryland Secretary of Transportation O. James Lighthizer praised Mr. Teel for returning "profitability and respectability" to the port.

"He was the leader that turned around the port's fortunes," said Mr. Lighthizer. "He did it by building a great team."

Mr. Teel's resignation is effective at the end of March. Michael P. Angelos, deputy director of the MPA since September 1991, will be responsible for day-to-day operations while the search for a successor is under way, Mr. Lighthizer said.

As the new vice president of public finance at Ferris, Mr. Teel will head, effective April 4, the division that oversees financing for governmental and nonprofit entities. He will succeed Charles Steele, who will remain with the firm in a marketing capacity, specializing in public financing in West Virginia.

"One of the reasons we're bringing Mr. Teel on is his strength in Maryland," said Robin Oegerie, a spokeswoman for Ferris. "Our goal is to penetrate the public financing market in the mid-Atlantic."

Before joining the MPA in June 1991, Mr. Teel was chief operating officer in Anne Arundel County, overseeing an $800-million-a-year budget and 4,000 employees. In that job, he was responsible for overseeing the sale of $50 million a year in bonds to finance capital projects.

He was appointed head of the MPA by Mr. Lighthizer who, as Anne Arundel County executive, was Mr. Teel's boss before Mr. Lighthizer became state transportation secretary.

At the time, Mr. Teel's appointment surprised many people, because he was the first MPA director with no maritime experience. But Mr. Lighthizer insisted that a strong manager was needed to correct problems at the struggling port.

And yesterday, Mr. Lighthizer said maritime experience will again be secondary to managerial ability in his search for Mr. Teel's successor. He said he has no timetable for making a recommendation to Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

"There is no leading candidate," Mr. Lighthizer said. "We're looking for a first-rate manager."

Mr. Teel's new job reportedly carries with it a sizable increase over his current annual salary of $107,000. He is also one of 43 former Anne Arundel officials who collect generous pension benefits. Legislation is pending with the Anne Arundel County Council to revoke those benefits, which were significantly enhanced in 1989.

In addition to beefing up the port's marketing and customer service efforts, Mr. Teel also oversaw a 15 percent reduction in the MPA's work force, trimming it during the past two years to 380.

Mr. Teel said yesterday his single greatest accomplishment was improving communication and trust among leaders in the maritime industry. "I believe the port of Baltimore has gained back a lot of respect from the legislature, the executive branch and also from the maritime community."

Industry leaders yesterday praised him as an effective manager.

"He was very instrumental in pulling us together as a community," said Maurice Byan, executive director of the Steamship Trade Association, which represents employers at the port.

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