If you have any issues accessing this website, please call 206.652.1129 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Pacific time zone.
AlaskaCaribbeanFeatured News StoriesHawaiiMain Site Feature StoryPNWSafetySaltchukSaltchuk People

Foss Maritime Center lead credits project’s early success to the ‘folks in the seats’

Chris Wolf: ‘There’s little to limit the potential…’

By Hilary Reeves

Chris Wolf joined Foss Maritime as a dispatcher in 1984.

“I’ll never forget my interview with Steve Scalzo,” he said. “I made a commitment that I was in for the long haul if he was willing to take the chance. We’ve jointly fulfilled that bargain for more than 30 years.”

Based in Seattle, Wolf was appointed to lead on the company’s expanded and renamed Foss Maritime Center (FMC) in Portland. He began his career in his hometown of Lake Stevens, about an hour north, at his father’s Chevron service station.

Wolf in the command center of the FMC

“I like to think that working there instilled a strong work ethic and commitment to customer service that translated across my career and into my current role,” he said.

Wolf later spent 13 years at the Scott Paper Co. as a consumer representative and production supervisor. Then came Foss, and his job as a dispatcher in Everett.

The FMC expanded the company’s service offerings at its Portland terminal and dispatch center to include a 24/7 call center staffed by professionals able to quickly pull up a vessel’s location, route, and the latest weather conditions. The center supports Foss’ international fleet of tugs and marine assets – as well as the maritime fleets of sister companies TOTE Services and Tropical Shipping. The FMC opened on June 1, 2016.

“After a few bumps in the road last spring, our overall success has been good, especially given the scope of the project,” Wolf said. “Any success we’ve experience so far is a tribute to the folks in the seats down there: our Watchstanders. The credit goes to them.”

Wolf said the FMC is a project beginning a journey that has no finish line. He became involved when the opportunity presented to consolidate the company’s dispatch departments from four regional locations to a central entity in Portland.

A large wall of screens can be split to highlight information or service areas, or combined to show detail of specific geographies.

“We chose the Portland location because it was an underutilized facility with the capacity for growth,” he said. “Once our plans were announced internally, a group of visionary leaders at Saltchuk and Foss looked for ways to extend the business value of the investment. The scope of our mission was expanded to include our sister companies, TOTE and Tropical. There’s little to limit the potential of future services that the center could provide, both internally and externally.”

When Wolf isn’t supervising the daily operations of the FMC, he’s spending time with his wife of 47 years, and their two sons and two grandchildren.

“I married my high-school sweetheart in December of 1968 – the credit for our long marriage goes to her,” he laughed. “Our family is a great source of love, humor, and pride. If I could do or be anything else it would be to be a better husband, father and grandfather, and person in general.”

But Wolf said he has few regrets: “I just wished I’d learned much earlier in life that despite what I may have thought, nearly all decisions impact others.”

His plans for the future are as they were 32 years ago.

“I want to fulfill the commitment I made to (Scalzo) and Foss Maritime all those years ago. I’m in it for the long-haul. I wish everyone could know how serious Saltchuk and Foss Maritime are about getting their employees home safely to their families. The center is simply one more manifestation of that commitment, and an even bigger fulfillment of that vision into the future.”