When I took over as chairman of the NRC in January 2020, no one could have envisioned how dramatically conditions would change in just a couple of months.
The onset of the COVID pandemic meant many of our best-laid plans were suddenly disrupted. As sometimes happens on a railroad construction site, you’re forced to look for a safe and effective workaround. Thanks to creative, outside-of-the-box thinking by the NRC staff and board of directors, the NRC weathered the pandemic and found creative ways to remain relevant and provide value for
Seasoned railroad contractors know workarounds can lead to fresh approaches that serve you well in the long run. That was the case with NRC FirstLook, a series of webinars in January 2021 that replaced the in-person 2021 annual conference. The resounding success of NRC FirstLook led to additional webinars on timely topics that provided valuable information and interaction for a broad contractor and supplier audience. You can expect more of these webinars going forward in 2022.
After taking a year off in 2020, the annual NRC auction came roaring back in a virtual format in 2021. It was one for the record books with more than 130 items sold conveniently online without the time and expense of shipping items to an auction site. The record revenue generated valuable income that the NRC has invested in resources to make our industry safer, including safety videos and Part 243 Minimum Training
Although the pandemic halted in-person advocacy on Capitol Hill, it didn’t stop the NRC from representing railway contractors and suppliers before Congress and with federal agencies. The NRC staff played an influential role in COVID legislation and regulations that designated railroad contractors as essential workers. Our members were among nearly 500 industry representatives who met via Zoom with 260 congressional members and staff in the first-ever virtual Railroad Day on the Hill in April 2021. This past November, NRC staff and members contributed to the successful passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which includes a historic discretionary funding level increase for vital rail grant programs.
After taking a year off, it will be a true delight to gather in person with other industry leaders in January for the NRC’s annual conference, the final gathering in an eventful but unpredictable term as chairman of the NRC. It has been my great honor to serve and to have the opportunity to connect with and learn from so many amazing professionals across our industry. It’s been a memorable ride; I am grateful to the NRC’s talented staff, smart and industrious board, and our growing membership.
At the conclusion of the annual conference, Steve Bolte will take over as the new NRC chairman. Steve is an experienced industry veteran who served as publisher of Progressive Railroading and in leadership positions with Harsco and now Danella as vice president of business development North America. Under Steve’s capable leadership, the NRC is well-positioned to leverage opportunities down the track.
Building a safer and stronger railway construction industry together!