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— by Pat Foran, editor
I met Steve Bolte when he joined Progressive Railroading in the summer of 1998. The Sosa-McGwire Summer. Class Is were struggling mightily with mega mergers. Clean-slate railroaders were rethinking Mexico's rail map. Google's founders were preparing to file incorporation papers. Progressive Railroading was focusing solely on magazine publishing.
Sixteen summers later, the Sosa-McGwire thing is ephemeral, back-of-the-baseball-card stuff. The merger messes have long since been mopped up. Mexico's privatized railroads continue to push the growth envelope. Google is a noun and a verb, and approaching "ineffable" status. And more and more of our readers/audience members are tracking the North American rail evolution via online information delivery vehicles and "live" events, as our friend and now former colleague Steve notes in his farewell message. On June 30, he left his post as Progressive Railroading's publisher to join Harsco Rail as senior director of North American sales.
As publisher, Steve carried the "Progressive Railroading" flag with a down-to-earth graciousness. He wore his commitment — to his customers and colleagues — on his sleeve, just as he will at Harsco Rail. Steve's the real deal. You always know where he's coming from. And where his heart is.
It's been a privilege to work with him as we've navigated the rail and information-delivery landscape shifts. He knocked himself out to do his part to help us get better, and for that, I'll always be grateful. I'll miss his collaborative spirit, as well as the color he added (Carolina Blue, usually) to the conversation, if not our print magazine color palette. But I'll see him out there in rail country, so the conversation will continue. Thanks for making a difference here, Steve. I know you'll do the same at this next destination. You're getting one of the good ones, Harsco Railers. And so are we in the professional who has replaced Steve as publisher: Kirk Bastyr.
Kirk, who has spent most of his career in senior-level advertising agency positions, brings his own brand of leadership to the table. He has extensive experience developing traditional, digital and integrated marketing campaigns for an array of clients — including 10 years working with rail-industry clients. So Kirk knows a thing or two about navigating those aforementioned landscape shifts. He's also a good listener. And like Steve, Kirk is a team player — the genuine article. We're behind both of them as they embark on their respective next-level journeys.