By Abigail Goldring, Media Relations Staff
A Coast Guard reservist and father of three young kids, Senior Marine Terminals Operations Representative Jean-Paul Richer is no stranger to waking up with the sun. By 7 a.m., he’s already at Port Newark, where he can see from his office window cranes and forklifts piercing the blue skies just beyond vast lots of recently unloaded Toyotas.
Richer, who goes by JP, is charged with overseeing security operations at Port Newark, which includes managing its security plan and acting as a liaison between port tenants and the Port Authority — vital work that often goes unnoticed as people across the country buy their fresh produce and new cars every day.
While his mission is clear, every day brings different demands. One day, he’ll be meeting with the Coast Guard for their yearly audit, where the Port’s security plans are assessed. Another day, he might be leading up to 30 people in a tabletop exercise, conducted to ensure that Port Newark’s emergency procedures are up to date, or meeting with the Law Enforcement Working Group of local officers to keep up with work and procedures.
Richer also embraces one of his other key roles: educating the public on Port Newark and giving tours of the facility, from the warehouses where not-from-concentrate orange juice is stored at 42 degrees Fahrenheit, to the giant mounds of salt for winter roads that were shipped in from India, to the piles of scrap metal being prepared for export.
“It’s so satisfying to know that I play a part in providing resources to the region,” Richer said. “You might not realize it when your Amazon package gets delivered to your door, but a lot had to happen for it to arrive there.”
His love of the water goes back to when he was a kid. Growing up in the small town of Millville, Mass., he enjoyed going to the beach with his grandparents and riding his uncle’s boat on a nearby lake. After graduating high school, he joined the Coast Guard. “I wanted to see the country, I wanted to serve my country, and I wanted to save lives,” he said.
Richer is still in the Coast Guard Reserves, leading training’s at the Sandy Hook station. In many ways, his role at the Port Authority is similar to his Coast Guard experience, just from a different vantage point.
“When I was out with the Coast Guard, I had no idea what was in all those boxes coming in and out of the ports,” he said. “Now, I have a much greater understanding of how all those ships contribute to the livelihood of the region.”
Rich Laraway, the Deputy General Manager of New Jersey Marine Terminals, knows first-hand Richer’s dedication to his job. “JP has demonstrated time and again his willingness to support the needs of the facility, regardless of what they are and when they occur,” Laraway said. “He provides the management team with a wealth of historical best practices and situational knowledge that enable us to meet and exceed our security goals.”
For everyday citizens might not think about where their orange juice comes from or where the old TV goes after the dumpster, it’s people like Richer who contribute to the seamless flow of goods in and out of the United States.
“It’s my job to make sure our port is open, safe, and secure,” Richer said. “It’s an honor to come to work every day.”