2019 Connie Award

Bruce A. Fenimore is a successful transportation executive with more than 40 years of experience in the ocean freight and logistics industry. Mr. Fenimore started his career with Trans Freight Lines, Inc. (TFL) in several operations capacities, throughout the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast, which spanned port operations and intermodal. In 1982, he was responsible for the start-up and management of the intermodal department at TFL. After launching Trans Freight Express, TFL’s trucking company; Mr. Fenimore was promoted to Vice President of Operations.

In 1990, Mr. Fenimore joined Columbia Coastal Transport as its President.  Under his leadership, the company expanded its service routes and the size of its U.S.-flag barge fleet operating as many as 11 barges connecting multiple U.S. ports. As a result, Columbia Coastal Transport earned its reputation as the leader in containerized cargo feeder services and the provider of the most environmentally sustainable mode of container transportation available in the market. To this day, Columbia Coastal Transport provides one of the only successful and unsubsidized container-on-barge services in the country calling Norfolk, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

As the industry developed, Mr. Fenimore understood the importance of inland transportation and equipment services to accommodate the overall growth of the trade. To strengthen the company’s position and capitalize on the growth, Mr. Fenimore orchestrated the acquisition of a leading depot operator, renaming it Columbia Container Services, and started a chassis leasing and trucking division, Columbia Intermodal, to create the Columbia Group of Companies. Columbia Container Services is now a well-established provider of off-dock container and chassis storage, handling, and maintenance services and Columbia Intermodal is the chassis pool operator for the Port of Boston.

In 2008, along with his business partner John Armstrong, Mr. Fenimore purchased the Columbia Group of Companies from its previous owners.  Since the acquisition, the company has continued to expand.  In 2015, envisioning the need for a return to container-on-barge services, due to the introduction of larger vessels calling on fewer ports, Columbia built the Columbia Freedom a state-of-the-art 910 TEU container barge.  On the landside, Columbia has experienced exponential growth including the opening of the Bayonne Chassis Depot, operating the chassis pool in the Port of Boston, relocating the Maher Terminal empty container depot into the Port of New York and New Jersey, and opening of the Elizabeth Chassis Depot.  In 2018, Mr. Fenimore purchased the remaining shares of the company to become the sole owner of the Columbia Group, LLC and its operating companies.

Mr. Fenimore currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Marine Maintenance Contractors’ Association.

Mr. Fenimore is married to his wife Jackie and has three daughters and four grandchildren. 



2019 Lifetime Achievement Award

Sara Mayes, President and CEO of Gemini Shippers Group, started her career in shipping and logistics in 1966, 10 years after Malcom McLean introduced containerized shipping. While working for a chemical importer in Queens, New York, the import manager position suddenly became available and Sara was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to expand her responsibilities to international shipping. After working for the chemical company for several years, using the old teletype machines and learning to read the dots, she took a break to have her daughter, and then went into the garment import field and, from there, into the accessories industry.  In 1985, she became her company’s representative to Fashion Accessories Shippers Association – newly formed by members of the National Fashion Accessories Association. Fashion Accessories Shippers Association (FASA) and Gemini Shippers Group led the formation and evolution of the shipper’s association model which was first approved after the passing of the 1984 shipping act.  In 1989, she was named FASA’s president.

From 1985 to 2001, while volunteering as FASA’s president, Sara also worked in the accessories industry, running her company’s international shipping and customs compliance departments. Along the way, she got her customs brokers license. In 2001, she went to work full-time for the association, which, by then, was doing business as Gemini Shippers Group.

Sara was lucky enough to have great mentors and also smart enough to realize that, if you surround yourself with smart people, you look good and your work gets easier. 

Under Sara’s leadership, Gemini quickly rose to be a leader in the fashion accessories and garment import category. Volumes and membership more than quadrupled and, today, Gemini Shippers Group serves over 250 member companies, covering all commodities.  Sara has set apart Gemini as the most technologically innovative shippers association in the United States.  She was an early adopter of the use of technology in shipping and, under her guidance, Gemini created its own in house proprietary IT platform.  Her efforts to innovate in this space led the early adoption of EDI integration for track and trace, automated rate search, contract processing and automated rate audit.  Sara’s continued push to leverage technology continues today with her drive to integrate new technology for satellite tracking, visualization and automating payment platforms into the Gemini platform. Sara has also fostered a strong link to mentorship and education.  Coming from a family of educators, Sara has been a strong proponent for scholarship in our industry. She has led Gemini’s effort to promote education in the industry through the Gemini Scholarship program which has funded scholarships at several universities and trade groups including CONECT and FIT. Sara has also personally endowed scholarships at her alma mater, Queens College, as well as at the University of Michigan. Gemini was chosen to represent industry as a member of the Federal Maritime Commission’s Supply Chain innovation team, and in 2018, she led the incorporation of the Fashion and Jewelry Accessories Trade Association into Gemini Shippers Group. Sara’s work on education extends outside of her role at Gemini.  She serves on the Board of Directors of the International Trade and Marketing Department of Fashion Institute of Technology and has been a regular speaker and contributor to many publications and trade events.  She has also served our country as a participant on the U.S. Commerce Department’s industry advisory committees during her career.   

A graduate of Queens College in New York with a B.A. in philosophy, Sara disappointed her family by not becoming an English teacher. However, they would probably be proud of her, especially for being honored with the Intermodal Institute Lifetime Achievement Award.



Dec 9, 2019

Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel

Elizabeth, NJ

10:00 AM scholarship reception

11:45 AM cocktail reception and luncheon