Vancouver, BC – On behalf of its Board of Directors, Seaspan ULC (Seaspan) announced today that long-serving Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jonathan Whitworth, will be retiring at the end of 2017.
Jonathan announced to the Board in 2016 his timeline to retirement. A search for his successor immediately commenced and Seaspan is also pleased to announce that Frank Butzelaar, President and CEO of a related company, Southern Rail Link (SRY), has been identified as Jonathan’s permanent replacement effective April 3, 2017. Frank’s transition will commence on March 3 and he will continue to work closely with Jonathan throughout 2017 to ensure a smooth handover.
Due to the magnitude and specialization of the National Shipbuilding Strategy Non-Combat contracts, Brian Carter, President – Seaspan Shipyards, will continue to report to Jonathan until year-end and then will report directly to the Board of Directors.
A dynamic, passionate and visionary leader, Jonathan played an instrumental role in transforming the organization under his direction since his arrival in 2009. He took a highly innovative approach to revitalizing Seaspan, a 130-year old company, by focusing on preserving the core of its historical successes while stimulating growth. During this time, Seaspan has modernized its fleet and facilities, matured its operations to meet international standards and invested in technology to drive optimal efficiency, while dramatically improving its safety culture and decreasing the lost time injury rate by 200%.
Some key accomplishments of the Seaspan team over the past eight years include:
Investing $500M in new capital along all business lines
Acquiring four marine companies in four different business units
In 2011, winning the $8B non-combat vessel contract to build state-of-the-art ships for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy, under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. VSY will build up to 17 vessels, over the next 10 to 15 years.
Creating 1300 new jobs (doubling the work force in eight years)
Committing $250M to new terminal upgrades and five new ferries which will be the first dual-fuel hybrid vessels (LNG, diesel and lithium batteries) in North America
Building a number of new marine assets, including four state-of-the-art harbour and escort tugs and 14 new barges at VSY, and four new large barges, adding a total increase of 50% increased carrying capacity to Seaspan’s fleet.
While Seaspan is happy for him personally, the organization will miss Jonathan and the many contributions he has made to the Washington Companies since joining the group.
“It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing my retirement. I informed the Board of Directors in 2016 that I intended to transition to retirement by the end of 2017. With the support of the Washington Companies, a search for a successor was initiated immediately. I’m happy that my successor is someone from within the Washington Companies and am confident that this choice will ensure the sustainability and growth of Seaspan. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to partner with Frank on a number of projects, and am thrilled that a seasoned transportation executive such as him will be at the helm.
Although I am still young, I have had a long-term goal to retire while I am healthy and capable of enjoying my family, hobbies and new adventures for many years to come. For me personally, working with the Seaspan team for the last eight years exceeded my expectations, and I cannot think of a better company with which to have ended my working career. I could not have asked for better co-workers or a more supportive ownership and Board of Directors, and the hardest part of retiring is knowing that I will no longer be able to work alongside the best employees in the business.
I am incredibly proud of playing a part in Seaspan’s success, and I’m equally convinced that under the leadership of Frank and the rest of the executive team there will be many more great years to come. I will continue to work with Seaspan and the Washington Companies on a transition plan, with the specific objective of supporting Brian Carter and the team at Vancouver Shipyards as they continue to focus on delivering the Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
Thank you for your support, dedication, and friendship over the last eight years. I wish you all the best and I can’t wait to watch Seaspan as it continues to grow and prosper.”
Frank has been with SRY since 1993, where he started as a Project Analyst before progressing in his career to President and CEO in 2008. The Board of Directors unanimously selected Frank as Jonathan’s successor based on his demonstrated ability to develop and lead high performance teams. Frank resides in Vancouver, B.C. with his wife and his three daughters. In response to his appointment as CEO, Frank said:
“I am grateful and humbled for the confidence and opportunity that the Board of Directors has offered me. I look forward to transitioning to Seaspan and to learning from and serving the men and women of the company. I’m excited to work with all of Seaspan’s employees, customers and other key partners as we continue to build on the strong foundation that Jonathan and the team have established.”
“The vision for Seaspan has always been to Passionately Deliver the Best Marine Solutions to serve our clients while growing the organization and providing a safe and positive work environment,” said Kyle Washington, Chairman – Seaspan ULC. “Frank is the ideal candidate to guide the Seaspan team into the future and continue the tradition of excellence. Both Jonathan and Frank are making exciting transitions; I look forward to a bright future for them and the entire Seaspan team.”