John Clancey: Pushing Full Steam Ahead In Asia

John P. Clancey may be based in Seattle, but he knows all the best running routes near Asia's major hotels. On the road 75% of the time, the fast-rising shipping executive finds time to get in six to eight miles each morning. And wherever his feet carry him, Bangkok, Beijing, or Surabaja, he sees signs of Japan's economic incursion. There's a new Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. plant near the Beijing airport, for example. "Thailand is like a Japanese suburb," he adds.

Clancey, 46, isn't intimidated. Instead, he has used inter-Asian business to make Sea-Land Service Inc.'s Pacific Div. a major profit center. Since becoming division head in 1986, he has built up routes not only to and from Asia but also between Asian ports. And he has expanded a huge terminal in Hong Kong and opened offices in China and Malaysia, making Sea-Land one of the few U. S. companies to benefit from a flood of Japanese and Taiwanese investment in Southeast Asia.

Shipping was the last career Clancey had in mind. At Emporia College in Kansas he dreamed of studying law. But when he returned from service in Vietnam, money was tight, so he chose to join Sea-Land, now part of CSX Corp. He worked in Japan and Taiwan before his current posting.

Clancey's efforts have yielded impressive results. After losing nearly $30 million in 1986, the Pacific Div. earned $113 million in 1990, with its revenues accounting for nearly 50% of Sea-Land's $2.6 billion. Clancey is pushing full-steam ahead. In April, he completed a vessel-sharing deal with Danish container-ship company Maersk that gives Sea-Land two additional trans-Pacific routes and doubles to 16 its routes within Asia. That should provide him with some fresh jogging trails.

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