Steven Cernak, chief executive and port director of Port Everglades, died Saturday following an extended battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 63.
Cernak joined Port Everglades in 2012 after serving as the CEO and port director at the Port of Galveston in Texas for 10 years. Port Everglades generated nearly $168 million in revenue in its fiscal 2018 and transported $12.1 billion of goods in exports in 2017, according to the South Florida Business Journal, which named him one of its 250 Power Leaders.
He was also the immediate past chairman of both the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and Florida Ports Council.
“Steve was a friend, a loyal colleague and a stalwart leader within the American Association of Port Authorities,” said AAPA president and CEO Kurt Nagle. “He was always there to lend a hand to a port colleague, give of his time or share his knowledge and experience.
Cernak grew operating revenue by 17.5 percent at Port Everglades and oversaw the construction of new cruise facilities and the start of the Southport Turning Notch Extension, said Glenn Wiltshire, the port’s deputy port director.
The Southport Turning Project, which was approved in May 2017, is a $437.5 million expansion that includes the addition of new berths for larger cargo ships and the installation of crane rail infrastructure for new super post-Panamax cranes. Moss/Kiewet was awarded the contract in February for the expansion, which also will lengthen the existing deepwater turnaround area by about 1,500 feet.
Cernak, who received the AAPA’s 2019 Cruise Award in February, also developed solutions to advance the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Port Everglades Navigation Improvement Project after two decades of study, Wiltshire said in a written statement, according to the AAPA.
“Steve often said how much he valued the friendships and personal relationships that he developed throughout his lifetime,” said Wiltshire in a written statement. “Above all, Steve made it clear how much he loved his wife Cindy, his children and grandchildren. He will be greatly missed.”
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Seafarers’ House at Port Everglades and the United Way of Galveston.