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Chuck Jordan, Missouri Pacific Marketing & Sales

Immediately following a one-year tour of duty working as a stenographer at Headquarters, U. S. Army, Vietnam, I began working for the MoPac on September 16, 1970.  I had just turned 21 and was hired as a stenographer at the headquarters office in St. Louis, Mo.  I secured this position through a downtown employment office specializing in pre-screening potential employees for the railroad.  I distinctly remember walking into the MoPac Building at 13th and Olive for the very first time.  The initial vision of the 21 story building and its impressive, ornate lobby will always be imbedded in my memory.  Everyone working in the building dressed in a very professional manner.  Neatly pressed suits, ties, dresses, etc. There was even a barber shop and a small convenience shop on the ground floor of the building.  The first person I met was Ray Breedlove, a personnel manager located on the ground floor of the building.  Following a series of tests and interviews, Mr. Breedlove advised they wanted to utilize my stenographic skills working for an officer of the company as soon as a position became available.  In the meantime, he wanted to know if I would be willing to start as a file clerk in the Traffic Department on the 19th floor.  While a filing job could be considered boring, I had the time to scan and read letters and correspondence.  I was able to pick up valuable insight into railroad terminology as well as issues and opportunities being dealt with between the Traffic Department and the railroad’s customers.

After a couple of months in the file room, I was bumped up to an administrative position working for Dick Lundgren, Traffic Department Regional Sales Manager on the 17th floor.   Mr. Lundgren was responsible for managing field sales offices in the Midwest.  I learned a great deal about customer requirements, business opportunities, pricing, truck competition, car supply, demurrage, damage claims, etc.  I was given an opportunity to then experience these issues on a day-to-day basis working an administrative position in the St. Louis sales office located on the 16th floor.  This office was managed by Tom Arnold, District Sales Manager and Bob Brandt, Asst. District Sales Manager.

My big break came one day in April of 1971, when Tom Arnold called me in his office and told me to report to the 17th floor for an interview with Joe Austin, Vice President of the Traffic Department.  I will never forget walking into Mr. Austin’s office for the first time.  It was tastefully furnished and reflected his stature in the company.  He reminded me of the Colonel I worked for in Vietnam.  The years of stress and strain it took to reach their levels showed in their eyes and on the stern look of their faces.  Following an intense interview, Mr. Austin hired me as his Special Representative.  In this position, I handled and organized his correspondence, arranged travel and meetings, captured notes from face-to-face and phone meetings with customers, drafted letters for signature interfaced with his direct reports in Market Research, Pricing, Field Sales, Industrial Development, Sales Training and the crews of the Company Plane and  Business Car #8 (his personal railroad passenger car used to meet with and entertain customers).  I also prepared his expense account statements and drove him to and from airport/rail yard locations.  What impressed me most about Mr. Austin was that he started as a telegrapher on the railroad and quickly worked his way up through the Operating Department to its upper echelon before being selected Vice President of Traffic.  His working knowledge of the railroad gave him a tremendous amount of credibility with MoPac’s major customers.  He was a good listener in customer meetings and would always try to seek solutions that worked for both parties.  He had a knack for compromising when it was absolutely the best approach to take.  Working for Mr. Austin also gave me the opportunity to interact with the Executive Department as well as department heads in Operations, Accounting, Finance, Law, Engineering, Mechanical, Public Relations, etc.

One afternoon in November of 1973 I was organizing some papers on Mr. Austin’s desk while he was out of town.  I picked up a piece of paper showing pending departmental transfers in field sales.  To my surprise, my name was on the list of transferees showing me as Sales Representative in Houston, Texas effective February 1, 1974.  In those days of railroading, moving was not an option, but an unwritten condition of future employment and advancement.

When Mr. Austin returned from his trip, he called me into his office and informed me of my promotion.  At that time my wife and I lived in a small apartment here in St. Louis.  We were given a week-long trip to Houston to find a place to live.  MoPac Trucklines later brought over a trailer for our furniture.  The trailer was loaded on a flatcar at MoPac’s Dupo railyard and was waiting for us when we got to Houston.  Thinking back on the numerous moves my wife and I made later in my career, it was the most efficient.  I often used this as an example when selling MoPac’s TOFC (trailer on flat car) services.  Potential customers would use damage as an objection to switching from truck to TOFC and I would talk about my personal household goods arriving on-time and damage-free.

I was given a sales territory, a company car, a customer call book and a map.  That was a tremendous challenge at first but really boosted my confidence as I learned my way around the territory and got to know about how MoPac interfaced with the Houston Belt and Terminal (HB&T), The Port Terminal Railroad Assn. (PTRA), Southern Pacific (SP), Santa Fe (ATSF), and Burlington Northern (BN).  Starting my sales career in a port city gave me additional transportation knowledge that I recalled and utilized in the balance of my career.  MoPac divided their sales territories geographically.  This was valuable in that you became familiar with all types of businesses such as steel and pipe fabricators, scrap yards, aggregate facilities, warehouses of all types, bakeries, coffee mills, chemical plants, breweries, importers/exporters, etc.  There were also a large number of headquarter offices in Houston.  The absolute best part of working for MoPac was its reputation as a premium transportation provider and an innovator in early computerization efforts.  It was also known for its quality service and the quality/quantity of railcars essential to the success of its customers.

One of the highlights of Joe Austin’s career was the development of an in-depth professional sales training program headed by Harris Ducote and Rodney Rea.  This sophisticated program is what set MoPac apart from other railroads who still relied on entertainment and hand-outs as a method of maintaining customers.  MoPac’s philosophy was aimed at seeking out and securing new customers and lucrative business opportunities in a professional manner.  The MoPac introduced it’s MBO (Management By Objectives) program during my time in Houston.  Each sales person outlined specific goals for each account and was considered for promotion based on results.

The most significant (and welcomed) changes I saw in my career was the transition from pen and paper to computerization (TCS, Autobill, Equipment Distribution, Car Scheduling, Demurrage accounting, pricing and billing automation, email, spreadsheets, word processing to name a few.  MoPac was an industry leader in these areas and was its prime contribution in connection with success of the UP/MP/WP merger.

I was promoted to Sales Manager, Mobile, Alabama and then to Sales Manager at Shreveport, La before returning to St. Louis as Asst. to the Vice President, Traffic in 1980.  I again worked for Joe Austin.  When the UP/MP/WP merger took place in January 1983, I was replaced on this position by a more senior officer. Mr. Austin retired and I was given the opportunity to return to field sales or a reassignment to the merged Industrial Development group in Omaha, Nebraska under the direction of Jay Ostrow (former WP) and Jack Wesley (former MP).  I opted for Industrial Development and spent the next two years computerizing the merged railroads’ industrial property inventory and query system of available land and buildings.  Following that assignment, I was promoted to Manager of Industrial Development.  My Omaha-based territory encompassed the states of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and Missouri.  I assisted a

variety of customers who were seeking rail-served locations for new plants and facilities.  This included finding a suitable site or existing building, negotiating/coordinating track/switch design and financial responsibility based on projected annual revenues, etc.  An example is a 20-acre site in Kansas City, Kansas on which E. I. DuPont constructed a 120,000 sq. ft. spray painting facility to supply facia (bumpers) to the General Motors assembly plant at Fairfax, Ks.  The facia was produced in Brownville, Tx and transported via 60’ boxcars (4 cars per day)  by MoPac direct.  An additional example is the location of a customer in an existing 60,000 sq. ft. building along our tracks at Fort Collins, Colorado.  The customer (Stitch-Tech) needed a location to receive/store and deliver beer bottles to the new Anheuser-Busch Brewery (served by the BN Railroad).  Anheuser Busch did not want the beer bottles operation on site.  Track was constructed to the building, rail doors were cut in and a storage track was conveyed to accommodate the operation.  Our railroad transported 16-50 ft. boxcars per day from Anchor Glass at Henryetta, Oklahoma.  The customer was able to do their own switching at the facility using a trackmobile.  Each boxcar contained 100,000 beer bottles.  Airbags were partially inflated at origin to compensate for increased inflation as the altitude increased along the trip to Ft. Collins, Colorado.  The BN’s industrial development group had a number of great sites to offer the customer in Fort Collins but chose our site based on our package of providing clean/sanitized railcars at origin, competitive pricing, service and damage prevention assistance.

Starting my MoPac career on a union position, and personally witnessing the interaction between management and union employees in the field, I can attest to the respect each had for the other.  The MoPac freely promoted union employees to management positions and encouraged it’s union new hires with a path to management promotion based on skills and positive results.

MoPac’s professional sales training program taught us to never speak negatively to our customers about other railroads.  Mainly because of interline necessities and cooperation needed during re-routes caused by hurricanes, flooding, or other types of service disruptions.  Additionally, speaking poorly about other railroads to potential customers sent a negative message about their decision to use one of MoPac’s competitors in the first place.  That worked very well during sales calls and focused our attention on selling MoPac’s features, advantages and benefits.

I will always be proud to have worked for Missouri Pacific Railroad.  MoPac demanded the best their hard-working employees had to offer.  I was fortunate to have a wife and family that understood and supported the frequent relocations my 37-year railroad career necessitated.