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The Indiana Rail Road Co. (INRD) yesterday announced its founder and longtime president and chief executive officer will step down next year. Tom Hoback — who since March 1986 has helmed the regional he rebuilt from a broken-down branch line — plans to retire on June 30, 2015, then continue to serve on the railroad's board while pursuing other business and philanthropic interests.INRD's board has appointed Peter Mills to succeed Hoback as president and CEO, effective July 1, 2015. Currently vice president of finance operations for CSX Transportation, Mills has served on the regional's board for 10 years. He plans to resign from CSX on June 30 and relocate to Indianapolis. During his 26-year CSX career, Mills has held numerous management and financial leadership positions, including managing director of investor relations, and director of international sales and marketing for Europe."This is the career opportunity of a lifetime for me to join Indiana Rail Road. Tom and his team have built a remarkable franchise with which I have been associated for the past 10 years in my role on the board," said Mills in a press release. Mills is a natural fit to assume INRD's leadership because he will continue the legacy of entrepreneurial thinking that has made the railroad successful, said Hoback."He will bring a real passion for business development while drawing on his commercial management experience," he said.In 1977, INRD predecessor Illinois Central Gulf (ICG) petitioned to abandon a line from Indianapolis to Linton, Ind. The petition was denied, but the line was ordered closed after nearly 800 serious track defects were discovered in a 38-mile stretch. The railroad reopened two years later, and shortly thereafter, ICG reached an agreement to sell the line to Hoback and his investors.Despite what were considered long odds and doubts that a turnaround was possible, Hoback and his team of 16 employees at startup worked to restore customer confidence in the railroad. Today, INRD moves Indiana cargo to and from Asia and points all over North America, and is considered a short-line industry leader in safety, technology and marketing.Hoback also helped build a legacy of corporate giving and community involvement at INRD. A passionate supporter of public safety, education, historic preservation and the arts, he directed corporate donations toward police, fire and school infrastructure, and the purchase of classroom equipment and education materials for communities across the railroad's system."After nearly 30 years of concentrated focus on growth, and having reinvested nearly $200 million of our earnings into improvements, INRD is in the best physical condition it has ever been," said Hoback. "With innovative marketing and customer service, we have grown our business by a compounded rate of more than 12 percent annually, and today we move the equivalent of more than 800,000 truckloads of freight per year. The transformation of this company has been truly remarkable."An active participant in the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Hoback also became a well-respected short-line industry spokesman who helped the industry address issues. For more information about Hoback and his formation of INRD, read this article from Progressive Railroading's July 2010 issue.
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