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Rail News: People
Rising Stars: Mike Stickel, Lake State Railway Co.
Mike Stickel, 37
Vice president of business development,
Lake State Railway Co.
Job description: Stickel is responsible for commercial, transportation and mechanical functions at Lake State Railway Co. (LSRC) in Michigan.
Education: B.S. in finance, Indiana University Kelley School of Business
Nominator’s quote: “The LSRC is dramatically improving due in large part to Mike’s experience, energy and willingness to tackle new projects, participate in long-term planning and develop a network of contacts aimed at continuing and increasing the LSRC’s success.” — John Rickoff, LSRC
How did you get into railroading?
I never really considered a career in railroading until a chance meeting with Tom Hoback, [then] CEO of Indiana Rail Road Co. (INRD). Tom explained that INRD had an internship program in place and it sounded like something I would be very interested in pursuing. I was hired into the marketing department after graduation and was able to work with Larry Kaelin, the vice president of business development, focusing on unit stone and coal trains. I was also able to spend some time in operations and a couple of years working for the CFO in strategic planning and asset utilization.
I spent four years in the rail equipment leasing sector after departing INRD, where I was able to spend significant time in and around many of the other short-line railroads. My next stop was with Watco Cos. LLC, working as a regional marketing vice president, covering the Eastern region and working with United States Steel Corp. Travel was very extensive, so I was happy to once again to work with John Rickoff from INRD, who now leads Lake State Railway in Michigan.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of so far?
I am proud to have helped Lake State continue to grow despite losing a coal contract that represented 25 percent of its volume. LSRC never missed a beat, growing 38 percent in non-coal carload volume over the last three years and bringing on seven new active customers or customer expansion projects in process this year.
What is a little known fact about you?
My favorite sport is professional road cycling.
What advice would you share with a first-year railroader?
Learn everything you can about railroading from the old heads. Learn even if it doesn’t pertain to your particular department. All facets of railroading are so closely linked it is very important to understand how and why things happen the way they do on a railroad.
How would you convince someone to consider railroading as a career?
If you want to be challenged and grow with an industry that is vital to the U.S. economy and that can help solve many infrastructure and environmental issues we have in this country, please join us.
What do you hope to be doing in five years?
I hope to help our company become the safest short line in the U.S., while becoming more efficient and seeing continued business growth.
Rising Stars 2017 Award Winners:
Arthur Adams Jr.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Belt Railway Co. of Chicago
National Transportation Safety Board
Texas Central Partners LLC
BNSF Railway Co.
Brightline (All Aboard Florida)
Short Line Safety Institute
Dallas Area Rapid Transit/Trinity Railway Express
Lake State Railway Co.
Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon
Watco Cos. LLC
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