Effective January 1, 2014, Gary Lundy will become the chairman of the board, Terry Towner will become vice chairman and Rick Baden will serve as president and chief operating officer (COO).
"We are blessed to have good people to lead Watco as we continue to sharpen our focus daily on serving our customers," said Rick Webb, chief executive officer. "With our growth, I have asked our team to reflect on how to best serve our customers and team members and I am excited that, once again, our leaders have accepted the challenge."
Currently, Lundy is the executive vice president of support services and Towner has served as president and COO since joining the company in 2002. Baden joined Watco as chief financial officer in 2004 and became COO in 2012.
Lundy has performed various leadership roles since joining Watco in 1991. His leadership skills allowed him to be responsible for many Watco firsts. Lundy's leadership was instrumental in starting Watco's first profit center in Watco's Terminal and Port Services. He also headed the first Human Resources and Strategic Sourcing departments.
Watco experienced historic growth under the leadership of Towner as president. Revenue grew at a 22 percent compounded annual growth rate during his tenure, while the bottom line improved at an even faster pace. In addition, Towner implemented technology advancements, human resource and training initiatives and standardized operating metrics to help prepare Watco to continuously improve its service to its customers.
"Terry Towner has been a tremendous leader for the Watco Team and our customers. Under his leadership, we have grown in a sustainable way always staying true to our Customer First Foundation Principles. With Terry's new role, we will continue to benefit from his guidance and leadership that has helped create so much value for our team and our customers," Webb said.
"I am especially pleased that we will now have as president and COO, a man who was once the president of one of our customers. Rick Baden has done an extraordinary job pulling our team together, building on the foundation of our success and getting all to focus on serving our customers. I am very confident in his leadership," said Webb.
In other news, Watco has reached a definitive agreement to make a preferred equity investment in Federated Capital Holdings, LLC (FCH), a Michigan limited liability company.
FCH's holdings include the Great Lakes Central Railroad Inc. (GLCR), a 400-mile regional railroad operating entirely in the state of Michigan and Federated Railcars, Inc. (FRI), owner of a fleet of refurbished passenger cars.
"This partnership between two entrepreneurial companies will help insure the long-term success of local rail service in Michigan and also provides a mechanism for the continual growth and improvement of our transportation assets to help grow Michigan's manufacturing and agricultural interests," said Louis Ferris, FCH's president. "We also believe that this partnership provides significant benefits to the Michigan Department of Transportation's passenger efforts. We look forward to working with Watco's team for years to come."
The GLCR stretches from Ann Arbor, Mich., north to Cadillac with branches to Thompsonville, Traverse City, and Petoskey. The primary commodities hauled by GLCR include grain, sand and plastic. The railroad interchanges with the Canadian National and Huron Eastern in Durand, CSX at Anne Pere and Howell, the Ann Arbor Railroad at Ann Arbor and the Mid-Michigan Railroad at Alma. FRI, through the GLCR's shops in Owosso, rehabs and upgrades its passenger car fleet to be used for the Michigan Department of Transportation's proposed "WALLY" service, as well as for other potential commuter agencies."