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Progressive Railroading and RailTrends® have named Watco Executive Chairman Rick Webb the 2022 recipient of the Railroad Innovator Award, which recognizes an individual's outstanding achievement in the rail industry.
In 1984, Webb joined Watco and learned the business by working alongside his father Dick Webb, who founded the company in 1983 with a single locomotive. The ever-acquisitive Watco now owns and operates 44 short lines in the United States and Canada, as well as a number of terminals, ports and mechanical shops.
"Dick Webb instilled a 'customer first' focus in Rick, and under Rick’s watch, the Watco team has sharpened that focus," says Progressive Railroading Editor Pat Foran. "And by listening to customers, Webb and his team have kept the company's entrepreneurial spirit alive as Watco continues to enter new business ventures and take new routes to revenue growth."
Rick Webb has held various management and leadership positions at Watco — including operations, purchasing, marketing, accounting and financial management — and served as CEO from 1998 to 2018, when he assumed his current position. Webb also serves on the board of directors for both the Association of American Railroads and the National Industrial Transportation League.
"While being one of the best wheeler-dealers in railroading, Rick is also one of the nicest guys — a rare combination," says independent transportation analyst Tony Hatch, who is the program consultant for the annual RailTrends conference. "He has expanded the parameters by which we judge 'short lines,' and even 'short line holding companies' by including services, logistics, ports and switching among other categories and attributes."
Progressive Railroading and RailTrends previously presented Railroad Innovator Awards to such railroad leaders as CN's JJ Ruest, CSX's Jim Foote, Kansas City Southern's Pat Ottensmeyer, Association of American Railroads' Ed Hamberger, Genesee & Wyoming Inc.'s Jack Hellmann, CN's Claude Mongeau, CSX's Michael Ward, Canadian Pacific's Keith Creel, Norfolk Southern Corp.'s Wick Moorman, Union Pacific Corp.'s Jim Young, KCS's Mike Haverty, BNSF Railway Co.'s Matt Rose and CN's Hunter Harrison.
Webb will receive the award during RailTrends 2022, which will be held Nov. 15-16 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. For more information about the event, log onto RailTrends.com.