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Rail News Home People

September 2014

Rail News: People

Rising Star: Jessica Kramer Havens


Jessica Kramer Havens

Jessica Kramer Havens [AGE 38]

Diesel Supply Co. Inc.

Education: University of Wisconsin-River Falls, bachelor of fine arts with an emphasis in glassblowing

Career highlights: After college, Kramer Havens worked as a full-time glassblower and art teacher in Florida. She took over operations of Diesel Supply Co., a locomotive parts and leasing company in Hudson, Wis., in 2004 after her father and company owner Paul Kramer was injured in a near-fatal car accident. She bought the company (founded by her grandfather Al Kramer) in 2007, and has since streamlined the business to focus on manufacturing and marketing cast-iron brake shoes, as well as marketing batteries, lights and engineer seats to the locomotive industry.

Why rail? "I thought keeping the [Diesel Supply Co.] doors open until after Dad's recovery would be temporary, but it ended up being a full-fledged career change for me. ... My dad ran this business for 40 years. I saw an opportunity for his legacy to continue and I didn't want to see it end."

Five-year goal: "My business has been growing exponentially in the last three to four years with just the battery and brake-shoe business. I'd like to streamline to the point where I can hire some people — right now, it's all me. I'd like to be able to expand [the company] to a point where I have a legacy to leave to my son, should he decide that he wants to do this someday."

Active in: Railway Supply Institute, board director; League of Railway Industry Women, corporate sponsor chair

Making a difference in rail transportation by ... representing small businesses in the rail-industry and encouraging women to consider careers in railroading.

Her philosophy starts with lessons from her dad. "I don't think he ever missed a day of work. He told me, 'Half of something is better than all of nothing,' which to me meant that you go after every opportunity you can. ... It's about giving it your all, always being there to answer the phone, and recognizing an opportunity when it presents itself."





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