Raleigh Sheffield 

 

What was your first job on the Mopac and what were the daily duties?
I guess I can't count being a management trainee as a job, but it certainly was a great program and allowed me to absorb quite a bit of railroad knowledge in a short time (March to December  1966).  My first real job was Chief (cheap) Clerk in the Milwaukee sales office.  Probably 50% of my time was managing specially equipped box cars checking on unloading status, trying to get them placed for customers in Wisconsin to send back to MP territory and so advising the destination sales agency(form 41075).  It entailed lots of paper work, US Mail, etc.  Truly the dark ages compared to just a few years later.   If a customer wanted to know the location of a car, we called St. Louis Service Bureau.  We also got via US Mail daily bridge crossing reports at St. Louis and I'd look for Wisconsin destinations to see what was coming to our territory.  Dark ages indeed!

What was the most interesting job on the railroad you had?
General Sales Manager, St. Louis.  I was responsible for about one third of the MP sales agencies.  Lots of people contact, both customers and employees.  In retrospect I think I could have used an extra year in my previous position before being  catapulted into the GSM job.


What were your duties, what were the most interesting or challenging areas?
General supervision of about four sales regions with a total of about 25-30 sales offices.  I found most interesting  making sales calls with our representatives on our major customers and learning about their business. Most challenging was trying to play golf at the numerous customer golf outings.  I never did learn and thankfully out of respect for those playing with me, gave it up some time later.  The job itself was quite a challenge as I had skipped the Regional Sales Mgr. position which would have better prepared me for the GSM position.

What was best part of working of the Mopac?
The best part of the job was that I was working for a company that was one of the very top railroads in the industry.  I was always proud to represent the MP.


What did the railroad focus on as your daily responsibilities?
Simply put, grow the business.


How did the MP differ from other railroads.
It was one of the top lines in the country and probably one of the most frugal but it did believe in investing in people.  MP had the best overall management training programs in the industry.  It was also the leader in computer technology(TCS) and customer service(CSC) .


What changes did you see in your career that you felt were significant.
Probably the move to computer technologies changed the way we all did business.  Also the Staggers Rail Act of 1982 which was a landmark act which saved the rail industry was the game changer although by the time we began to really take advantage of its provisions, the MP was merged into the UP. It moved the focus of the railroad from one of being operating dominated to one of being customer oriented.


Any stories you can tell now you couldn't when you were working?  
I told this story many times.  With lots of travel while on the training program the Personnel Dept. asked if I wanted a roommate to help share apartment rent.  Of course, and so I first met Dick Davison as I stepped off the Texas Eagle on aSaturday morning.  I was about 30 days ahead of Davidson in the program and thus he had the advantage of looking at my trainee repots and that folks, is how he got to be Chairman of the UP!  

How did working for the railroad affect your personal or family life.

As I moved up the ladder my family life. as expected, suffered.  I wish I had spent more time with my two daughters as they were growing up.  I am now making up for that deficiency with my grandson.

What will be regarded as accomplishments you made in your Mopac career.

Quite frankly the biggest accomplishment in my railroad career came at the UP in leading the Mexico Group and leading problem solving teams which made major changes to the border clearing processes.  Working with other departments I was able to establish through rates with Mexico and push for sales reports showing Mexican customers and destinations.  My 17 years at MP prepared me for my most important job in my career even though it was at UP.


What was Mopac's relationship like with the unions?  Other railroads, customers.
While not involved with the unions to any degree I was always under the impression the MP was a tough but fair negotiator.  I think MP was considered a tough competitor but highly respected.  Customers saw MP as  a leader in the industry and totally professional.


What was it like working for the Mopac during the UP merger?
Easy.  The merger occurred the last week of December 1982 and the first week of January 1983 I flew to Omaha for a two day meeting.  I never returned to my office in St. Louis during working hours and never saw my secretary again.  By April 16, 1983 I was in my new house in Omaha.  I spent the next year meeting with all of the combined sales force explaining timelines, new procedures, etc. for the newly merge railroad.