Norfolk Southern has launched an innovative initiative that is extending the life of the company’s iconic “Top Gon” coal cars. The effort, driven by Mechanical Department craft employees, is meeting customer needs, saving money, and contributing to NS’ sustainable business practices.
Carman Jerry Zollars’ debut as “Tub Dude” reflects the enthusiasm employees have for Norfolk Southern’s new coal car “retub” program. Virtually all of the company’s SPIRIT values are at play, from safety and teamwork to innovation and performance. Employees at NS car shops in Norfolk and Portsmouth, Ohio, have developed processes to do the work safely and efficiently, in some cases developing custom tools for specific tasks.
From the start, the Mechanical Department has exercised its NSight efficiency practices to develop the Top Gon retub initiative. NSight, the railroad’s version of the Lean process-improvement system, is helping to spark innovation, streamline work processes, engage employees, increase productivity, and reduce costs.
Three years after launching Norfolk Southern’s Trees and Trains initiative to reforest 10,000 acres in the Mississippi Delta, CEO Wick Moorman wanted a firsthand look at the impact of the railroad’s $5.6 million investment. His takeaway: NS’ participation is creating significant environmental and economic value and raising NS’ profile as a leader in corporate sustainability.
As a bridge and building supervisor, Ruth Brown breaks down gender stereotypes with as much intensity as she drives spikes into bridge ties. In October 2013, Brown became NS’ first female B&B supervisor, and she now is among a small but growing number of female supervisors within NS’ maintenance of way and structures group.
Growing up in a Chicago suburb, Jessica Kappel enjoyed working on cars with her father. These days, Kappel is responsible for keeping much larger vehicles on the “road.” As a mechanical supervisor at Norfolk Southern’s Roanoke Locomotive Shop, Kappel supervises employees who work on locomotive power assemblies and air compressors.
Ashlee Hurt did not know much about railroading before joining Norfolk Southern’s management trainee program fresh out of college in 2013. A year after receiving her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, however, Hurt has become an engineering associate in NS’ communications and signals group and is immersed in the business.
Cayela Wimberly had barely settled into her job in May as Norfolk Southern’s grade crossing safety director when she boarded the first of four Operation Lifesaver trains to promote public awareness of railroad safety. Over six weeks, Wimberly traveled more than 1,500 miles, stopped in 38 cities in nine states, and talked to several hundred people, including local and state government officials, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, business and school leaders, and reporters.
Music is woven into the history of Norfolk Southern. One of the most notable examples dates to the early 1880s in Roanoke, Va., where employees built and repaired steam locomotives for Norfolk and Western Railroad.
Companies doing business with the federal government, including Norfolk Southern, are required to collect data and report on the number of military veterans and people with disabilities in their workforces. “Norfolk Southern is committed to workplace diversity and to providing equal employment opportunities. That includes hiring and promoting qualified veterans and people with disabilities,” said Ricky Morris, manager EEO.