Due to COVID-19 issues, the NARS 2020 Annual Meeting has been cancelled.  Join us in Chicago in 2021 – May 12-14, 2021


NARS 2019 Meeting Recap


2019 Annual Meeting

Tinkling ice cubes and laughter filled the ballroom as more than 200 attendees enjoyed drinks, hors d’oeuvres and networking to start off the 2019 Annual Meeting in San Antonio May 15-17.

The Westin Riverwalk provided comfortable, extravagant amenities and an excellent location for the three-day event. After registering and grabbing a beverage, guests strolled around the Westin Riverwalk Ballroom to talk with colleagues and forge valuable business connections. 

Dana Burleigh, NARS immediate past president and 10-year member, warmly welcomed new members to the organization. 

“This networking opportunity at a national level provides many benefits and brings everyone together — railroaders and shippers alike,” he said. 

The following day, meeting attendees enjoyed a delicious continental breakfast and listened to discussion panels and speeches. A presentation was given by Carl Ice, BNSF president and CEO. Ice, the keynote speaker discussed the overall rail industry’s position in safety, efficiency and service. He also thanked shippers for their patience as the railroads maneuvered through this year’s seasonal challenges. 

Optimistic about the industry’s future, Ice emphasized the requirements for success regardless of the economic climate.

“Growth is important for customers and for us, and it’s essential to adapt for change across time,” he said. “If we hadn’t done that, we would cease to exist as a company. To grow, we must offer competitive customer service and invest in our railroads, so we can produce great returns for customers and employees.”

Patrick Fuchs, board member, represented the Surface Transportation Board to discuss current issues impacting freight transportation legislation. He stressed the importance of collaboration to resolve differences during these transformational times, as well as a compromise between regulation and cultivating a healthy freight market. While the board values objective, data-driven analyses and practical relief mechanisms, its members continue to re-evaluate their role in topics such as Precision-Scheduled Railroading and trade policies.

“Whatever we do, we should do so carefully as to ensure regulations don’t hinder the functioning of the transportation network,” Fuchs said. 

John G. Murphy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president for international policy, summarized issues impacting trade agreements and the rail industry. He and his team currently work toward the finalization of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), an initiative that will restore certainty with the country’s most important trade relationships. 

George P. Bush, Texas land commissioner, shared with a captive audience about his team’s efforts to keep history alive and emphasize the importance of Texas railroads in the state’s schools, as well as to further veteran support initiatives and develop a natural disaster preparedness plan. He also hopes to expand industries such as solar and wind energy. 

Prior to lunch and further networking, the organization bestowed the Person of the Year Award to Tony Hatch, and the Lifetime Achievement awards to Allan Roach and Ed Hamberger. The afternoon continued with nine individuals participating on energy by rail, analyst and new association leadership panels before attendees enjoyed another networking reception. 

Clarence Gooden, recent past CSX president and CEO, ushered in the next morning with a humorous and informative account of his railroad career. He touched on the Rail Renaissance and Great Recession, weaving in personal and professional memories into his reminder that business is cyclical. He urged his listeners to poise themselves to maneuver through various economic climates. He emphasized safety as a way of life and thorough communication as essential values for a successful business. 

Beth F. Whited, Union Pacific executive vice president and chief human resource officer, closed the conference by discussing the company’s efforts to help railroaders achieve a healthy work-life balance. She noted that developing benefits, as well as catering to the company’s diverse workforce and talent pool, positively impacts customers. 

“We need to evolve with the times and make sure what we offer is appealing,” she said. “To hold ourselves accountable and be better for the customers, it’s necessary that we take care of our team.”

As the event adjourned, the attendees marked next year’s meeting in their planners for May 12-14 in Kansas City, Missouri.

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