Norfolk Southern Corp. Chairman, President & CEO James A. Squires (center) participated in a far-ranging discussion at the NRC FirstLook 2021 fireside chat with Jim Hansen (l), NRC chairman and Herzog chief commercial officer, and Steve Bolte (r), NRC vice chairman and vice president of business development North America for Danella Companies.

NRC FIRSTLOOK 2021 Sets Standard for Industry Webinars

The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) completed NRC FirstLook 2021 with high praise from the hundreds of professionals who participated from across the railway industry.

The series of four high-profile railway industry webcasts held throughout January stood out from other webinars that have become somewhat commonplace in the COVID-19era, said Jim Hansen, chairman of the NRC’s Board of Directors and chief commercial officer for Herzog. “I personally heard from many associates who raved about the quality of the panelists and other participants and the wealth of actionable information they learned from the webinars. They said the NRC FirstLook stood out from other webinars.”

Although not the same as the NRC’s highly regarded annual conference held each January, NRC FirstLook was a worthy substitute, said Ashley Wieland, president of the NRC. “Attendees at our annual conference tell us they value connecting with key decision makers in the industry. Feedback from NRC FirstLook indicates participants appreciated connecting with the presenters and panelists and learned information that will positively impact their activities in 2021. We are thankful for all of the industry participants and our sponsors for connecting together to promote these well-received industry webcasts.”

NRC FirstLook 2021 featured these four webinars:

Fireside Chat with Norfolk Southern President, Chairman and CEO James A. Squires, January 6, 2021 –Moderators Jim Hansen and Steve Bolte, NRC vice chairman and vice president of business development North America for Danella Companies, directed a far-ranging discussion with the NS leader. Mr. Squires shared about his start in the industry and career progression along with what NS is doing to make the railway industry an attractive career destination. He also emphasized how safety, technology, and Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) will generate opportunities for contractors and suppliers. He foresees growth ahead in 2021and said contractors and suppliers will be a growing part of NS operations and engineering activities.

Signal and Communications Opportunities for Contractors and Suppliers Panel, January 13, 2021 - Moderated by CSX Chief Engineer for Communications and Signals Carl Walker, this webinar featured remarks from five other Class I railroad S&C executives. Safety kicked off their discussion, including COVID-19 challenges. They also covered their capital and high-priority projects, as well as what is ahead for 2021, including technology and security developments, and how contractors can support their efforts.

Freight Procurement Opportunities for Contractors and Suppliers Panel, January 21, 2021 - Evan Bell, head of procurement for CSX, led a discussion with procurement representatives from BNSF, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific. They discussed how COVID-19 has radically changed their procurement processes, including remote bid walk-throughs and prohibitions on visitors to their facilities. There was agreement that finding efficiencies is a common priority and technology is the key to many of the solutions. PSR objectives are driving many of their initiatives. They also confirmed supplier diversity is an increasingly important focus and encouraged contractors and suppliers to track their second-tier diversity spend.

Class 1 Chief Engineers: Capital Programs and Opportunities for Contractors and Suppliers Panel, January 27, 2021 – Engineering representatives from six of the seven Class I railroads covered a lot of ground, from leveraging their positive train control (PTC) investments, to 2021 capital plans, the impact of PSR, collaborating with procurements departments, technology innovations, and sustainability plans. They thanked contractors and suppliers for the enormous way they contribute to their     programs and emphasized the importance of their continued work together.

The NRC is a U.S. trade association that advances the mutual interests of railway contractors and suppliers who construct, maintain and supply freight railroads and rail-transit and passenger lines. Founded in 1978, the NRC connects members with other railway industry professionals and government officials and policymakers. Together we work to create a positive business climate and to make railway construction and maintenance safer and more efficient.

What our members say…

“The networking opportunities at the NRC annual conference are phenomenal! My company ended up with a $25 million contract that was cultivated from relationships forged at my very first NRC conference. And those networking opportunities continue today.”

Mike Choat

Vice President, Business Development

Railroad Controls, Ltd., a Wabtec company

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