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Rail Roundup: Genesis has new owner; Lineage opens cold storage warehouse

In other news, IWLA happy with RSTAC reappointment, AAR recognizes environmental work and NS donates Southern Railway documents

A train rolls by. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Auxo Investment Partners acquires Genesis Rail Services

Private investment firm Auxo Investment Partners has acquired Genesis Rail Services, a full-service railroad maintenance company based in Bluefield, West Virginia, and Roanoke, Virginia. 

Genesis Rail Services, which was founded in 2009, provides outsourced maintenance of way, mechanical and construction services to Class I, Class II and industrial railroads across the U.S. The company recently patented its flagship service: a tie plate distribution system that reduces costs while improving uptime for rail operators, Auxo said.

Cody Harman, son of company founder Jeff Harman, will retain a minority ownership stake and will continue running day-to-day operations, while rail industry veteran John McPherson will serve as Auxo’s operating partner and a board member.  

The acquisition is Auxo’s first foray into the rail services industry, which it sees as growing in the coming years because of the anticipated increase in freight volume and intermodal freight in particular. That increased volume will lead to more demand for reliable rail maintenance to help relieve the wear and tear on railroad tracks, Auxo said.

“Given strong industry tailwinds and our company’s history of success, Auxo’s hands-on operational approach and impressive resources come at a perfect time,” Harman said. “It was important to find a trustworthy partner who was extraordinarily knowledgeable about the railroad industry. With Auxo as a partner, our goal is to eventually provide maintenance of way and mechanical services to every Class I and Class II railroad in the country by growing and expanding our current offerings.”

Said McPherson: “Market trends are moving in a direction that make Genesis’ value proposition all the more compelling as rail companies increasingly seek cost-effective solutions to their expanding maintenance needs. Having worked in the sector for more than 50 years, the company is in a unique position to scale its operations and serve the market in an unprecedented way.”

Genesis has worked with numerous rail companies, including Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National, Amtrak and Florida East Coast Railway.

The acquisition comes as Auxo is actively pursuing an aggressive acquisition strategy to add service lines, customers and geographies in order to build a full-service right-of-way maintenance partner with national reach for North American railroads and industrial customers.

“Genesis’ strong industry relationships, growing suite of innovative service offerings and customer-centric approach position the company for continued growth, especially as railways increasingly outsource maintenance of way services to more cost-effective third-party providers,” said Jeff Helminski, Auxo co-founder and managing partner. “The company’s growth trajectory is impressive, and it continues to add valuable new services and revenue streams that build on its history of industry-leading technology.”

Advisers and lenders on the transaction included Miller Johnson PLC, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, BDO USA LLP, Marsh & McLennan, Aon Plc, Strategies Wealth Advisors, Krauter & Co., Thomas Brady & Associates, Miedema Appraisals and Mercantile Bank of Michigan.

Lineage Logistics opens cold storage warehouse near Port of Virginia

Lineage Logistics has opened a state-of-the-art cold storage warehouse near the Portsmouth Marine Terminal at the Port of Virginia.

The fully automated facility represents an $84 million public-private investment and is meant to support U.S. supply chain needs and meet demand for cold storage in the region, said Lineage, which operates a network of over 22 fully automated facilities worldwide. The automation technology increases storage density, maximizes capacity, provides real-time inventory management and keeps food safe while reducing energy consumption, Lineage said.

The facility is adjacent to the Virginia International Gateway and is 167,264 square feet. It has 26,000 pallet positions and blast freezing capabilities. 

“Lineage’s innovative technology used in the Portsmouth warehouse will help our customers address rising supply chain demands both nationally and internationally while contributing to the ongoing economic development and job development in the region,” said Brian Beattie, Lineage senior vice president of sales.

Working with Lineage to secure the project were Portsmouth Economic Development, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Portsmouth Ports & Industrial Commission and Virginia Port Authority.

“This new cold storage facility is an important regional asset that is going to create jobs, provide greater flexibility to movers of cold cargo and help increase volumes of cold cargo moving across The Port of Virginia,” said Virginia Port Authority CEO Stephen A. Edwards. “When we expanded and optimized Virginia International Gateway [two years ago], we added a significant amount of capacity to handle cold cargo. Lineage’s new facility, which isn’t far from the gates at VIG, is going to help directly support our investment and make the port a destination for movers of cold cargo. We look forward to working with Lineage Logistics and helping to maximize its investment here.”

Inside a cold storage warehouse. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

IWLA congratulates reappointment of member to rail-shipper advisory council

The International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) said Friday that it is pleased that Paul Delp, president of Lansdale Warehouse in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, has been reappointed to the Railroad-Shipper Transportation Advisory Council (RSTAC) of the Surface Transportation Board.

Delp’s second term began Oct. 18 and will continue through Oct. 17, 2024. 

Delp and his company are long-term members of IWLA, a trade group representing the interests of third-party warehouse operators across North America. He serves as a co-chairman of the IWLA Transportation Advisory Council and was on the organization’s board of directors from 2006 to 2012.

RSTAC consists of 15 appointed members representing shippers, and it includes members from large and small railroads as well as the U.S. secretary of Transportation and the five STB members serving as ex officio members. RSTAC provides advice on regulatory, policy and legislative matters, according to STB.

Lansdale Warehouse is a family-owned logistics company serving the public and contract warehousing market for national and international customers.

Individuals recognized for environmental work contributions within freight rail

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) recently recognized individuals who contributed significantly to furthering environmental issues within freight rail. AAR recognized these individuals at the 2021 Railroad Environmental Conference held virtually last week.

AAR awarded Norfolk Southern’s Robert Scoble the 2021 Professional Excellence Award, which AAR says is the industry’s highest honor for environmental professionals. The award was presented to Scoble during the 2021 virtual Railroad Environmental Seminar.

Scoble, who has worked for NS for seven years, is currently an engineer for environmental operations. He maintains the compliance and environmental operations of a territory encompassing NS facilities in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. 

Five other railroad environmental professionals were nominated for the award: Michael Clift of BNSF Railway, primary manager of the asbestos management program overseeing more than 13,000 bridges and six buildings; Michael Panhuise of Amtrak, senior project manager for environmental compliance; Hillary Parker of Union Pacific, senior director of fuel and environmental capital programs for supply chains; James Roberts of CSX, manager of  environmental compliance and leader of the railroad’s System Track Mat program; and Jennifer Welch of Watco, a developer of the company’s preparedness for response exercise program.

AAR also awarded three individuals a Career Environmental Achievement Award for their work to advance sustainability and environmental responsibility. Those three honorees were Josh Raglin, chief sustainability officer at Norfolk Southern; Christ Hornick, general manager of environmental maangement at Union Pacific; and Robert Fronczak, assistant vice president of environment and hazmat at AAR. 

“While rail has long been one of the most environmentally responsible ways to move freight, the industry will never stop striving to increase efficiency and reduce potential impacts,” AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies said. “Behind that mission to create a cleaner, more sustainable tomorrow are tireless, thoughtful railroaders like the three we honor today. Collectively, they have built a legacy of excellence and helped embed stewardship across both the industry and their individual organizations that will continue to grow long into the future.”

Norfolk Southern donates $500,000 and historical documents to Atlanta History Center

Norfolk Southern plans to donate the complete collection of historical documents from Southern Railway, its predecessor, to the Atlanta History Center. NS (NYSE: NSC) will also give $500,000 to support the collection in perpetuity.

The collection consists of materials from as early as the 1840s and it includes hundreds of thousands of pages of correspondence, minute books, reports and construction plans, as well as more than 20,000 photographs. All of these materials help illustrate the growth of Atlanta and the Southeast, NS said. 

Southern Railway, with predecessors that date from 1827, merged with Norfolk & Western in 1982 to create NS.

“The history of Southern Railway is inseparable from the history of this region. This treasure trove of material belongs in Atlanta, and there’s no better home than Atlanta History Center,” NS President and CEO Jim Squires and in an Oct. 25 release. 

The $500,000 grant will help to digitize, catalog and preserve the collection, according to NS. NS and Atlanta History Center have also earmarked $50,000 to hire archival interns from underrepresented communities over the next five years, NS said.

Included in the collection are menus from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s train trips, telegrams announcing the sinking of the Titanic, more than 30 years of editions of the Southern Railway’s Ties Magazine, as well as advertisements, contracts, an extensive collection of photographs and construction plans for rail stations and yards. NS expects the donation process to be completed by early 2022.

“Railroads are Atlanta’s reason for being and the backbone of our growth into the transportation and commercial hub we are today,” said Atlanta History Center President and CEO Sheffield Hale. “This collection is crucial to uncovering the many stories behind the city’s transformation. We’re excited to have the opportunity to preserve this history and make it publicly available for students and teachers, researchers, and those who are simply interested in Atlanta.” 

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.