By CAPT Bill Diehl, GHPB President
The Port Bureau is in overdrive right now as we prepare for our Annual Maritime Dinner on November 5. As we are also hosting the Captain’s Cup Golf tournament that week on November 1, it’s put moving fast at maximum efficiency on everyone’s dashboard.
Getting to the highest speed possible is a familiar goal to me. I remember when a fast car was the key to all my teenage dreams. The rare times I was allowed to get behind the wheel of our family car filled me with the sensation of being able to accomplish anything – and the faster I could go, the better I liked it. While I cared about peak power, I did not really care about peak efficiency.
We only had one family car, a Dodge Dart -- not exactly a muscle car, but that didn’t decrease my enthusiasm for driving it. While teaching me to drive in the Kmart parking lot, my dad used to say, “You have to slow down if you want to ever get where you are going.” I didn’t listen. Later in life, he would jokingly tell my friends, “Bill drove the car 5 times in high school, 2 of which ended in accidents. It cost me $100 every time he looked at the car.”
While I maintain his comments are debatable, my real point is what a car meant to me as a young person. Horsepower and torque were my personal measures of getting to any vehicle’s true potential, and the quicker I drove the better. My older self now understands that unrestrained speed may not be the best method of getting to where I want to go. I’m now a believer of the Kmart parking lot advice that keeping my eye on what might be coming down the highway was just as essential to a successful road trip as to how fast I crank the engine. And since I started paying the gas bill, I have been a keen believer in efficiency.
This year’s Annual Dinner honoree, Jim Teague, is always quick to credit Enterprise Products founder, Dan Duncan, with instilling some exceptional business lessons in him. He notes how Dan was visionary and didn’t focus on just what “a deal” could bring to the company in the moment. He looked for how it would benefit the organization in the future, and he was known for his intent to see that a deal benefited both parties. Given that Dan started Enterprise with $10,000 and a trailer truck, you could say he, too, evaluated potential on more than how fast he could go; he looked a little further down the road to get maximum performance from his plans.
Getting in the driver’s seat still brings a sense of joy. Accelerating on an open road in good weather brings a return of that freedom feeling and the promise of good things ahead. When I steer my way to our Annual Dinner, I’ll be bringing that spirit with me. I believe many others will be, too, as we gather in fellowship for a wonderful evening that’s been two years in the making.
The cocktail hour is a great time for visiting and sharing business expectations for the future. Heck, if you even want to talk cars, I’m in. If you need a ticket (dinner—not traffic), a few are available. I look forward to seeing you there!
About the Author
CAPT Bill Diehl, USCG (Ret.), P.E. is president of the Greater Houston Port Bureau. Utilizing his 30+ years of marine safety and port operations experience, he guides the Port Bureau in bringing members and community partners together for cooperation and collaboration to improve and advance the port region.