Jim Rothlin, executive director of the Port of Chehalis has been selected to direct the Port of Bremerton.
Rothlin was among 30 applicants for the job which comes open Jan. 1, when current CEO Tim Thomson retires on Dec. 31.
Thomson has been the port’s CEO for the past four years.
Rothlin has been executive director of the Port of Chehalis since 2002 and serves as the chair of the economic development committee of the Washington State Ports Association.
Prior to coming to the Port of Chehalis, he was the CEO of Premiere Business Services, a business management consulting firm. From 1987 to 1994 he was the financial controller for National Semiconductor Corporation. He began his career in the Silicon Valley as a credit analyst for Hitachi America Ltd., in California.
He has a master’s degree in business from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Western Washington University.
During his time at the Port of Chehalis, he also has owned the Lund Theatres from 2006 to 2009 and is currently a adjunct professor in managerial accounting at Centralia College, near Chehalis.
Port Commissioner Axel Strakeljahn said Rothlin was the right pick because of his experience.
“To me it was obvious,” Strakeljahn said. “He has experience both in the public and private sectors. He knows how government agencies work and he has run his own business. He understands what private business needs and he knows what being part of a government agency is all about. It’s a really good mix.”
The Port of Chehalis was formed in 1986 to encourage economic development and job creation. It is located along the I-5 corridor and on its website, boasts of a mid-way location between Seattle and Portland. There are two business and industrial parks and tenants include both office, industrial and manufacturing tenants.
Port of Bremerton commissioners spend three full weekends with the port’s attorney Gordon Walgren and citizen representative Jim Carmichael interviewing candidates. A first round included five. A second round included two finalists and the final selection was made after a second interview with Rothlin just last Saturday.
His salary is still being negotiated, but he did accept the job at the port commissioner’s meeting Tuesday when commissioners voted to offer him the position. Rothlin current makes $86,000 at the Port of Chehalis. Thomson is paid $120,000 and had been with the port for the past 14 years.
Rothlin spoke to the commissioners after they offer him the job, saying that from the first visit to Bremerton and the Kitsap Peninsula, he knew this was the job for him.
“Everyone here is so warm and friendly,” he said. “It’s like a small town, but it’s not, really. But there’s a sense of community that I really want to be a part of.”
He plans to begin working with Thomson in a transition time during December while he finishes up his work in Chehalis. His wife, Teresa, is teacher, and daughter, Taylor, 14, and son, Chris, 15, will move to the Bremerton area by March, he hopes.
He said he finds this job a new challenge because in his current job, he does not have either an airport or marinas underneath him.
“I know I’ll draw on the knowledge of the directors here who are familiar with the Bremerton airport and the marinas here,” he said. “But in my work with the State Ports Association, I have dealt with matters involving both airports and marinas and feel ready to oversee those things.”
Commission chair Larry Stokes said all the candidates for the job were outstanding.
“Jim’s credentials are absolutely top notch,” Stokes said. “We had a good group of candidates, but we selected the best. He’s very experienced having 10 years in finance, 14 years in the private sector and another 10 as a port director. He’s a family man and he’s a Rotarian. And from what I hear, the Port of Chehalis isn’t too happy with us.”