James A. Black

Under Jim’s leadership, Moran Shipping Agencies became the largest independent steamship agency in North America.

James Anthony “Jim” Black was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on June 13, 1951, the youngest of seven children in a small brick home. From an early age, Jim possessed a unique combination of charm, devotion, kindness, and compassion. He was a soothing presence: calm under pressure and always ready to enfold friends, family, and colleagues in one of his bearlike hugs. He was a generous man who loved to provide for his friends and family, who never forgot a birthday or special occasion, and whose philanthropy supported the education of countless students.

Jim joined the Moran Organization in 1974 upon completion of his studies in business administration at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Working closely under the tutelage of his brother, former owner and President F. Robert “Bob” Black, he began his career as a boarding agent gaining experience handling a full range of commercial cargos. His expertise was further enhanced within the transportation industry through assignment with sister corporation J. F. Moran Company. There, Jim learned the intricacies of import/export documentation, negotiating letters of credit, and the expeditious movement of international freight. Subsequently, Jim was issued his Customhouse Brokers License by the U. S. Treasury Department in 1977.

When the Moran Organization made its first expansion beyond its traditional New England hub, Jim moved to Houston, Texas to manage the newly incorporated Moran-Thibodeaux Shipping Agencies. Throughout the next decade the operation in the U. S. Gulf experienced dramatic growth. The company began doing business as Moran-Gulf Shipping Agencies in 1985. By then, offices had been opened in Port Arthur, Corpus Christi, Galveston, New Orleans, and Fort Lauderdale. With Jim as its President and Chief Operating Officer, Moran-Gulf Shipping Agencies was attending more than 1,000 vessel arrivals on an annual basis. In 1986, Jim and his brother Michael T. “Mike” Black acquired full ownership of the Moran Shipping Agency Organization from their brother Bob. Mike was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Jim continued to serve as President. Upon Mike’s retirement in 2004, Jim became President and CEO. 

On August 8, 1986, Jim married the love of his life, Beth Judith Abbey Black, and moved to The Woodlands, TX to start a family. Shortly after his arrival, Jim became an active member of The Woodlands Country Club where he became an avid and formidable golfer. He participated in, and won, many golf tournaments in the decades that followed. Jim was also a well-known presence at his hometown course, the Fall River Country Club.

Despite a busy work schedule filled with regular trips to Boston, New York, London, Greece, and other distant locations, Jim always made time to spend with his family. In particular, he cherished the regular trips to Massachusetts with his wife and sons to spend time and share memories with childhood friends and his many relatives.

Jim took an active leadership role in local port communities, industry organizations, and non-profits. He served, with great passion and consequence, on the boards of St. Pius X High School, the West Gulf Maritime Association, the Association of Ship Brokers and Agents (ASBA), the Greater Houston Port Bureau, and many more. Jim’s longtime commitment to the Houston maritime industry and community was recognized by his selection as 2019 Maritime Leader of the Year. Jim was a global icon of the maritime industry, a dear friend to all those who knew him, and, most importantly, a beloved father, brother, uncle, and grandfather. 

Under Jim’s leadership, Moran Shipping Agencies became the largest independent steamship agency in North America. He accomplished this feat by means of an unyielding commitment to both the success of the company and the well-being of its employees. In Jim’s absence, the company continues to operate as a closely-held family corporation while providing the very best of independent and enthusiastic service the Moran way, Jim’s way: with dedication, respect, and compassion.

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