Long-time Tampa Port Authority executive Steve Fidler was the sixth recipient of the prestigious Captain James McKay Port Achievement Award. Fidler, the port’s senior director of operations, was chosen for his lifelong record of service to the Port of Tampa and the maritime community. The award was presented by the Tampa Port Ministries, at the Sixth Annual Anchor Ball, held October 6, at the Westin Harbour Island, in Tampa. The Anchor Ball is the largest fundraiser for Tampa Port Ministries, which operates an international seamen’s center that provides basic services and amenities to cargo and cruise ship crews from all over the world.
With nearly 30 years as a dedicated professional on the port authority staff, Fidler has been involved in nearly every aspect of port business, but mostly in port operations and security. Fidler’s institutional knowledge of the port authority and his broad understanding of the complexities of operations at the Port of Tampa have won him tremendous respect in the port community.
Fidler began his career with the Tampa Port Authority as assistant director of port operations in 1978. Prior to this he served and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, in which he worked in transportation and logistics fields. He has a B.A. from Florida Southern College in English and military science, and also attended the University of South Florida, where he studied audiology. In addition, he holds a certificate from the Institute of Foreign Transportation and Port Operations at Tulane University.
An exemplary team player, Fidler’s port career is replete with commendations and recognition for his work. He received a Public Service Commendation from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2002 and has received similar notoriety in the areas of marine safety, regional response, Coast Guard training support, fire fighting field training, and Naval control shipping exercises, among others.
Fidler is also considered an information source on issues such as dredging, safety, operations, vessel scheduling and navigation in and around Tampa Bay. He plays a key role in the award-winning Tampa Bay Harbor Safety Committee and serves on the Tampa Bay Marine Advisory Council.
His involvements within the maritime community are numerous and lend testimony to his great worth as a colleague and as a respected professional.
“Steve is wholly deserving of this great award as he represents the finest type of professional in the maritime industry,” Richard Wainio, port director and CEO, said. “With almost thirty years of his life devoted to the development of the port, he has helped to pave the way to the success, diversification and level of safety we see today at the Port of Tampa,” Wainio said. “Steve is his own chapter in the port’s history book.”
Captain James McKay, in whose honor the award is named, became a cornerstone of the Tampa Bay community during the mid-nineteenth century. Upon his arrival from Scotland, he purchased substantial property, including blocks of what is now downtown Tampa and Ballast Point. He established a line of schooners, a sawmill, the first courthouse, and the First Baptist Church. Captain McKay created a merchandising and trading business with Ft. Myers and served as the third mayor of Tampa. He was active in shipping and trading before, during and after the Civil War.
While a man of the sea, Captain McKay also knew the value of real estate and land-bound enterprises; he was truly a man of vision. His heirs and successors followed in his footsteps, with succeeding generations producing both sea captains and mayors.