2019 Connie Awarded to Bruce A. Fenimore; Sara Mayes Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Awards, Logistics — By on December 10, 2019 at 9:17 PM

Connie Award Recipient Bruce A. Fenimore, Chief Executive Officer, Columbia Group and
Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Sara Mayes, President and CEO, Gemini Shippers Group

2019 Connie Awarded to Bruce A. Fenimore; Sara Mayes Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award
Containerization & Intermodal Institute event in NJ also gives 23 scholarships
ELIZABETH, NJ, December 10, 2019– The Containerization & Intermodal Institute (CII) presented the prestigious 2019 Connie Award yesterday to Bruce A. Fenimore, Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Group, before some 450 people at its annual industry-wide luncheon at the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel.  Sara Mayes, President and CEO of Gemini Shippers Group, was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Under the auspices of CII, some 23 individual scholarships were awarded to logistics and transportation students from the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, Rutgers University, State University of NY Maritime College at Fort Schuyler, Seton Hall University, the University of Baltimore and Union County (NJ) College.
Mr. Fenimore is behind the growth and expansion of Columbia Group, which has earned a reputation as a leader in inland and feeder transport and equipment, primarily as it relates to expanding its US-flag barge fleet. Sara Mayes is an industry veteran with 50+ years in the business.
Michael J. DiVirgilio, CII President, said: “Bruce Fenimore spent most of his career holding multiple positions at what is now the Columbia Group. Known as an innovative, forward-thinking leader, he began his tenure as president of Columbia Coastal Transport, the leader in containerized cargo feeder services and the provider of the most environmentally sustainable mode of container transport available in the market.”
Mr. Fenimore has more than 40 years of experience in the ocean freight and logistics industry. He has spent most of his career holding multiple leadership positions at the Columbia Group.  Further strengthening the company’s position, Mr. Fenimore was instrumental in acquiring a depot operator, renamed Columbia Container Services, and was the visionary behind the launch of Columbia Intermodal, a trucking and leasing division. Mr. Fenimore also had the foresight to anticipate the return to container-on-barge services due to the larger vessels calling fewer points, so Columbia built the Columbia Freedom a state-of-the-art 910 TEU container barge.    On the landside, Columbia has experienced exponential growth including the opening of the Bayonne Chassis Depot, operating the chassis pool in the Port of Boston, relocating the Maher Terminal empty container depot into the Port of New York and New Jersey, and opening of the Elizabeth Chassis Depot.
In 2018, Mr. Fenimore became the sole owner of the Columbia Group, LLC and its operating companies. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Marine Maintenance Contractors’ Association. Joseph Ragusa of MMMCA presented the Connie to Mr. Fenimore.
In accepting the award, Mr. Fenimore acknowledged the “smart and loyal staff” at Columbia Coastal who are a big part of the company’s success. He also said he appreciated the cooperation of the ILA (International Longshoremen’s Association) along the East Coast of North America for “great” contract negotiations. “The ocean carriers who have had confidence in our company.
“Ms. Mayes spent most of her career developing and revolutionizing the fashion industry shippers’ association model,” said Mr. DiVirgilio. “Gemini Shippers became a major player in the fashion accessories and garment import category. Sara has differentiated Gemini as the most technologically innovative shippers’ association in the United States.”
Before becoming President and CEO of Gemini Shippers Group, Sara Mayes served as president, a volunteer position, for the newly formed Fashion Accessories Shippers Association (FASA) for more than a decade.  Ms. Mayes played a pivotal role in the formation and evolution of the shipper’s association model, which was first approved after the passing of the 1984 Shipping Act.  FASA began doing business as Gemini Shippers Group, and in the early 2000s, Ms. Mayes shifted from volunteer to senior management and took on the role of leading the organization into the future. Gemini Shippers Group serves over 250 member companies, covering all commodities association in the United States. Ken O’Brien, CCO of Gemini, presented her award.
Sara Mayes told the audience: “Pass your knowledge on to the next generation of people in international trade. Don’t feel threatened. Be proud that you have the knowledge to pass on. Be proud that you are respected enough to be asked for advice. Be proud that you’re in an industry that touches so many lives in so many different ways. Be happy that there are always new things to learn. When we stop learning, we might as well stop living.”
The award recipients were selected through an industry-wide poll conducted by CII, which yielded significant support of both Mr. Fenimore and Ms. Mayes. This year’s event attracted a record crowd for a Connie luncheon. CII honored its industry education mission by presenting scholarships in a separate ceremony preceding the Connie event to students studying logistics as well as the institutions that are educating our future leaders. Under its auspices since 1992, CII has awarded nearly $1 million toward scholarships. Companies have the opportunity to support ongoing industry education by purchasing scholarships through CII, starting at $1,000.
CII, founded in 1960, has been presenting the Connie Award since 1972 and it has become the most coveted honor in the field of containerization and its ancillary industries. Among some 65 recipients to date are Malcom McLean, James McKenna, Ed DeNike, John Wolfe, Richard Steinke, Helen Bentley, Captain S.Y. Kuo, Richard Larrabee, Carol Lambos, Matthew Cox and Robert Pfeiffer.
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