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Executive Vice President Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway
By Daniel Niepow, Associate Editor
From an early age, Jonathan Chastek evinced a knack for business. He began selling candy around his neighborhood when he was 6 years old. On any given day, he’d have five to 10 kids lining up to buy sweets.
Chastek now puts his natural business acumen to use at the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co. (W&LE) in Ohio, where he currently serves as executive vice president after working in business and economic development roles since 2008.
During his studies at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, he spent about a year working aboard a commercial ship, which made stops at ports in Africa, the Far East and Europe.
Being away from home for many months at a time wasn’t ideal for starting a family, so Chastek began seeking out jobs in the rail industry. At the recommendation of a professor, he sought out a management trainee position at W&LE, where he began working in 2004.
At W&LE, Chastek progressed from assistant roadmaster to assistant trainmaster before he became manager of economic and industrial development in 2008. Following the retirement of William Callison, W&LE’s former president, Chastek stepped in as the railroad’s acting president.
“Younger execs are instrumental in bridging the generation gap when it comes to management styles,” Chastek says.
In addition to his role at the railroad, Chastek continues to serve as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve. In the past, he’s served as chair of the Preparation for Adult Living Mission, an organization based in Canton, Ohio, that aims to help youth in foster care transition to adulthood.
He’s currently working with the Stark County Family Court in Ohio to educate juvenile offenders on career possibilities in the rail industry.
Chastek hopes to continue developing his leadership skills as he moves forward with his career. He aims to foster an environment “where employees are both proud and happy to come to work every day,” he says.
Rising Stars 2015 Award Winners:
Francois Belanger, CN
Todd Blaylock, HNTB Corp.
Jonathan Chastek, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co.
Oliver Dolder, Railtech Welding & Equipment
John Riley Edwards, RailTEC, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Stefan Loeb, Watco Cos. LLC
Jessica Moore, Union Pacific Railroad
Amanda Nightingale, King County Metro Transit
Celia Ann Pfleckl, Amtrak
Charles Rennick, Providence & Worcester Railroad Co.
Kaleigh Reyes, GE Transportation
Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, Federal Railroad Administration
Bruno Riendeau, VIA Rail Canada Inc.
Curtis Shogren, CSX Transportation
Alanna Strohecker, AECOM
Keith Tarkalson, Stacy & Witbeck
Brett Urquhart, Rocla Concrete Tie Inc.
Tara Vesey, Dakota Gasification Co.
Lexie Walker, Metra
Adam Weiskittel, BNSF Railway Co.