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Nominator's quote: "Even when people ask the seemingly impossible from Nick, he works to find a solution. There are countless people — from our CEO to our engineers — who are indebted to Nick for his tenacity, work ethic and dedication. Nick has unquestionably made a positive impact on our operations and, more importantly, reflects positively on what it means to be a railroader." — Jennifer Goss, Pioneer Lines
Education: Graduated high school in central Illinois.
Job responsibilities: Responsible for maintaining the locomotive fleet, ensuring compliance with the Federal Railroad Administration. Since the new ownership of Pioneer in 2019, tasked with inspecting and assessing each locomotive, identifying concerns and fixing to ensure locomotives operate safely and efficiently. Also leads environmental mitigation efforts, including finding ways to reduce emissions and be more environmentally friendly.
Career path: Entered the workforce immediately after high school.
How did you get into the railroad industry? I started my career with Pioneer over 18 years ago doing locomotive repairs at the Keokuk Junction Railway.
What is the best career advice you've received? My mom raised me and my brothers on her own. She epitomized hard work and instilled early on the importance of a strong work ethic and recognition that everything in life must be earned.
What advice would you give to a new railroader? Listen and learn. We are often surrounded by railroaders with decades of experience who can provide so much insight on different ways to do things. I think it's important to always be inquisitive and continue to expand our expertise and knowledge, and recognize everyone you interact with has the ability to teach you something new.
What was your very first job? I started cutting steel with my grandpa when I was 12 years old and continued until I was 16. I was paid $4 a day, which was a lot of money to a 12-year-old.
Describe a fun fact about yourself. I'm artistic and design quite a bit of Pioneer's swag. I also design uniforms for my slow-pitch softball team, the Pioneer Railroaders.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? My wife and I have four kids (ages 11, 8, 5 and 1) and we enjoy getting outdoors for weekend adventures with the family. I also like working around my house, and checking off home improvement projects.
What is the rail industry's biggest challenge? The industry is constantly evolving and trying to stay ahead of the curve, and adapting can be challenging. But, at the same time, it's exciting to see the advancements that are being made and imagine what the future will bring.