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Generation Next: J. Chandler Ryan IV

Age: 37

Company: Colonial Group, Inc.

Title: Vice President – Business Development

Top accomplishments

• Led Terminal Investment Corp.’s equipment outsourcing division to record growth in 2009 and 2010.

Top awards/accolades

• Bronze Leadership Award – Junior Achievement Worldwide

Top philanthropic leadership roles

• Vice Chairman – Junior Achievement of Georgia – Savannah District

• Cub Scout Den Leader – Pack 16

 

Please share your vision of Savannah’s future.

By the end of 2013? The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is the single most important economic initiative on the table in the near term. Supporting GPA’s ability to clear remaining regulatory, legal and, most importantly, financial hurdles should be Savannah’s (and Georgia’s) number one priority this year.

By the year 2020? I believe we’ll see tremendous growth in the number of employers offering apprenticeships to build the talent and culture in their teams necessary to compete in rapidly changing times. Many completing these apprenticeships will earn as much or more than 4-year college graduates… and without the associated debt.

By the year 2030? Children born in 2013 will be just about to graduate from high school and Savannah’s public education system will be our greatest asset or liability.

If the public dialogue shifts quickly from how we raise taxes for our schools to how we raise the entire community’s involvement in our schools, we’ll be building a model of which the whole state can be proud and 2030 will be booming for Savannah.

 

Q. How will you do business differently in the coming year or decade?

A. Businesses today must be able to anticipate and adapt to the market faster than ever to remain competitive. Growing a business in this environment means successfully managing change, and only the best teams can handle it. … I’ll continue to look for opportunities to become a better team member and help build on what I believe is one of the best teams in the industry.

 

Q. What technological or cultural advances are you looking forward to in the coming year or decade?

A. I’m interested to see the adoption rate of alternative fuel and hybrid-powered vehicles in the southeastern United States. Colonial is preparing to support all transportation fuels demanded by its customers, whether it’s gasoline, diesel, CNG/LNG or even propane, but the jury is still out on how much demand will turn up.

 

Q. What qualities or assets will distinguish Savannah and preserve/advance our local economy?

A. The fact we’re home to the fourth largest and fastest-growing port in the nation, period.

 

Q. What economic drivers and business sectors promise the most growth in the next year or decade and why?

A. First, bulk terminal owners and related businesses will benefit from growing agricultural exports in the Southeast. Second, 3PL’s are well-positioned to benefit from what will be a continued emphasis on supply chain efficiency and flexibility as a critical competitive metric for any major business shipping cargo internationally. Finally, a decline in skilled mechanics combined with an increase in the complexity, cost and importance of equipment is going to leave well-run maintenance providers sitting in the catbird seat.

 

Q. What college degrees will be the most in-demand in the Savannah area and why?

A. What’s in-demand are good people driven to make an organization better for their having been there. This is true regardless of whether they have a degree. Education is important, but a degree chosen because it’s in-demand but of little interest is worth about as much as a calculator to someone who just wants to paint.

 

Q. What advice do you have for other Savannah leaders?

A. Focus your energy only on those things within your control. Avoid the trap of believing that today’s bottom line is anything but a lagging indicator. The strongest leading indicator for your business will always be how much you invest in the development of your team.

 

Q. What innovation do you hope will be remembered by future generations?

A. I hope I’ll be remembered as a heart-driven leader who created organizational success by recognizing and developing human potential among any team I led, someone who believed and demonstrated that there were no limits to the achievement of people who believed in themselves, their team, and their purpose.

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