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Rail News Home People

August 2017



Rail News: People

Rising Stars: Stu Towner, Watco Cos. LLC



Stu Towner, 33

Senior vice president of network strategy
Watco Cos. LLC

Job description: Towner, who joined Watco in July 2004, leads a team that builds long-term value and finds innovative solutions to customers’ and partners’ needs. He works with field leaders to find ways to improve the company and identifies strategic acquisitions.

Education: Pittsburg State University; bachelor’s degree in finance, Master’s in Business Administration

Nominator’s quote: “Stu has contributed to the success of the company for more than 13 years. As for rising through the ranks, he has a record of doing just that. His leadership and work ethic have set an example for many to follow and he has mentored several others who will themselves aspire to be rising stars.” — Ed McKechnie, Watco Cos.

Why did you get into railroading?
Watco was a much smaller company back then than it is today — roughly six or so railroads. But, I had heard it was a good company run by a good family and it was in my hometown. I was working a couple of jobs that neither paid very well nor had consistent hours, so I applied and was accepted to work part time in Watco Customer Service. My boss was promoted within my first year and I inherited his responsibilities; my part-time job quickly turned into a more than full-time job. I was immediately hooked on learning and understanding the railroad business.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
There are three things I am most proud of in my professional career. First is the relationships I have gained both internally at Watco and with external customers. Second was leading several support departments to improve morale, process/service to the field and cost efficiencies. Third is seeing someone who I have had the opportunity to directly lead and mentor develop into a very talented professional.

What inspires you?
Creating something with a team of truly committed people who are working hard for the greater good of the team.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
Spending time with family and friends; reading and learning about other industries; golfing.

What advice do you have for a first-year railroader?
Commit yourself to personal safety and take accountability for the safety of all those around you. Not only will you have a great and long career, but you will develop into someone who can mentor the next person.

What would you say to convince someone to consider railroading as a career?
Railroading has so many roles and responsibilities that it can fit a lot of different personalities and career goals. Along with the different career avenues available, the railroad retirement plan is a great tool to help you plan for the future.

What do you hope to be doing in five years?
I hope to continue to learn new things by getting out of my comfort zone. I would also like to be in a position to challenge the norm and develop new opportunities so that we can continue to innovate and improve value.

Rising Stars 2017 Award Winners:


Winnie Chang
Winnie Chang

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Nick Chodorow
Nick Chodorow

Belt Railway Co. of Chicago


Robert Gordon
Robert Gordon

National Transportation Safety Board


Travis Kelly
Travis Kelly

Texas Central Partners LLC

Darrell Krueger
Darrell Krueger

BNSF Railway Co.


Michael Lefevre
Michael Lefevre

Brightline (All Aboard Florida)

Michele Malski
Michele Malski

Short Line Safety Institute

Julie Mink
Julie Mink

Tealinc Ltd.


Myat Ohn
Myat Ohn

HNTB

Annka Robinson
Annka Robinson

Dallas Area Rapid Transit/Trinity Railway Express

Danielle Ross
Danielle Ross

Spectrum Inc.


Mike Stickel
Mike Stickel

Lake State Railway Co.

Sarah Touey
Sarah Touey

Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon


Stu Towner
Stu Towner

Watco Cos. LLC

 



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