Matt McGrath knows a thing or two about how to get things done. With a passion for improvement and progress, he seeks out jobs that give him the opportunity to learn every detail and every aspect of the business. First he evaluates, then he fixes, and he doesn’t leave a job until the work is done to his own high standards.
Matt was born in Massachusetts but grew up on the west coast after his family moved to San Diego. He started his professional career working at a trucking company, where he “did anything and everything.” He left to work for a railroad company, where he continued to fill in anywhere and everywhere that he was needed. By the time he became Director of Operations, he had worked as a brakeman, conductor, engineer, station manager, maintenance crewman, and office administrator, among other things. His experiences made him uniquely qualified for his job managing railroad operations. Most of his work entailed traveling to newly purchased railroads and setting them up for success through training and development. He also oversaw the opening of three new railroads, something that “very few people actually get the privilege of doing… and it’s a fun job.”
In 2014 Matt moved to Astoria, following most of his family that had started moving to the area in the 1990’s—after watching The Goonies movie! Three weeks after moving to Astoria, Matt started working at the Port as Grant Writer, not long after he was promoted to Director of Operations and then again promoted to Deputy Director in 2020. He came to the Port with the aim of evaluating problems and fixing them, similar to what he had done at prior jobs. In his experience with the railroad, Matt was used to fixing things in three months, but he quickly learned that his time at the Port would be different. There was a lot to be fixed; too much to do in three months or even three years.
Seven years into the job, Matt feels good about what’s been accomplished, and he is ambitious about what is left to do. Fortunately, he has the right tools. His partnership with Executive Director Will Isom is one of trust and mutual understanding. Both Matt and Will agree that the work they need to do relies on a long-term vision, and they both like to share the credit. When asked about his team, Matt is quick to say, “We have some really good folks…. And that’s really how you solve your problems, you’ve got to have good people.”