Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Hoback’

Retiring INRD Chief Hoback Lauded at Dinner

June 22, 2015

Tom Hoback likes to collect toys. Unlike most men, though, he can afford really big ones, like a former Santa Fe office car that he and his wife own.

He also has 200 locomotives in his model railroad collection and his wife says he’s looking for more.

Of course, Hoback also bought a few 1 to 1 scale locomotives during his lifetime as a co-founder of the Indiana Rail Road.

Hoback will step down on June 30 as the president and CEO of INRD and more than 160 of his friends and colleagues gathered on June 12 at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis to salute his 30 years in the railroad industry.

That Hoback owns a former Santa Fe passenger car is hardly surprising given that he grew up in Illinois as a fan of the railroad for which his father once worked.

During their time at the podium, Hoback’s friends also portrayed him as a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan with an addiction to Starbucks coffee

Some even described him as a single-minded taskmaster with a Type A personality who was prone to giving others “the look,” which they described as a piercing stare with steely blue eyes.

Hoback is widely credited with leading the transformation of a down and out former Illinois Central branch line from an abandonment candidate to a thriving regional railroad.

Today the INRD operates 500 miles of track, most of it in Indiana, and employs 200.

Much of focus involves hauling coal, but it has diversified its traffic base to hauling consumer and industrial products.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard presented Hoback with a framed proclamation declaring June 12  as Thomas G. Hoback Day.

Mark Ahearn, general counsel for the office of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, presented Hoback a Sagamore of the Wabash award, the highest civilian honor bestowed in Indiana.

INRD Senior Vice President of Operations and Business Development Bob Babcock presented Hoback with a painting that depicted the various locomotives that the INRD has used over the years.

The painting, which was commissioned by the railroad’s employees, included a CF7, an SD40-2 and an SD90MAC.
Babcock said it was best to avoid the “r” word around Hoback, who refers to his next chapter as “a career change” instead of retirement.

Some of the gifts presented to Hoback were for laughs.

Indianapolis Power & Light Manager of Fuel Supply Harold Leitze gave Hoback a cane with a railroad whistle on top.

Leitze also got a few chuckles by recounting his dealings with INRD account executives.

“When I worked for Hoosier [Energy], I was told we were their No. 1 customer. Now I work for IPL, and I’m told the same thing. I guess that’s what they tell everyone,” Leitze said.

Pete Mills, who served as a CSX executive for 26 years, will succeed Hoback at INRD.

“I am following a legend. The success is a testament to Tom,” he said. “I will do everything I can to be the best steward I can be.”
Finally, Hoback got his turn at the microphone amid a standing ovation.

“It’s been a remarkable ride. I’m extremely honored and extremely humbled,” Hoback said. “The railroad was more than I expected it to be. We did some pretty incredible things.”

Railway Age Profiles INRD Founder Tom Hoback

March 11, 2015

He is described as a visionary leader who took a down at the heels branch line that the Class 1 railroad for which he once worked wanted to abandon and turned it into a regional railroad success story.

Indiana Rail Road founder Thomas Hoaback aboard one of his railroad's passenger cars.

Indiana Rail Road founder Thomas Hoaback aboard one of his railroad’s passenger cars.

“When the history of 21st-century railroading is written sometime in the far future, the accomplishments of Thomas G. Hoback—Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana Rail Road Co.—will be chronicled as an example of the type of visionary leadership that made a notable impact on a resurgent industry,” wrote Railway Age magazine Editor in Chief William Vantuono in a profile of the INRD founder.

Today the INRD has 500 miles of routes stretching from Chicago to Louisville, Ky.

The magazine described Hoback as a “visionary entrepreneur and shrewd businessman, with great compassion for the community, responsible for myriad contributions to education, historic preservation, and the arts.”

Hoback was born into a railroad family in 1947 in Peoria, Ill. His father was a Santa Fe dispatcher and even now Hoback retains a keen fondness for the Santa Fe. He and his wife own one of the Santa Fe’s former business cars.

The junior Hoback worked as a summer track worker for the Santa Fe during his college years and after graduation was a rail shipper for Foremost-McKesson. He also worked as an economic analyst for the Western Pacific Railroad.

After returning to the Midwest in 1977, Hoback worked for a year for the Erie Western before joining Illinois Central Gulf in 1978 as director of coal marketing

Hoback saw the potential of the ICG’s Indianapolis-Effingham, Ill., line that the railroad had sought to abandon in 1977.

Nearly a decade later, he led a successful effort to acquire the “high and dry” line, which he knew ran adjacent to one of the largest undeveloped coal fields in the country.

Over the next 28 years, Hoback oversaw the diversification of the INRD’s traffic base and the rebuilding of its worn out track.

INRD attracted more than $180 million in private capital that it used to transform itself in what Railway Age described as a “heavy-haul, high-tech regional railroad.”

The railroad acquired Canadian Pacific’s Indiana trackage, which included rights to serve Louisville via a CSX route. The tracks and Louisville rights had originally belong to the Milwaukee Road.

Today’s INRD handles 170,000 annual carloads with 182 employees. To read the magazine’s complete profile, go to:

http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/freight/short-lines/entrepreneurial-railroader.html?channel=94

Hoback to Retire as Indiana Rail Road Head

December 5, 2014

Indiana Railroad President and CEO Thomas G. Hoback has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2015.

Hoback, one of the co-founders of the INRD, will be succeeded by Peter Mills. Hoback will continue to serve on the railroad’s board of directors.

“After nearly 30 years of concentrated focus on growth, and having reinvested nearly $200 million of our earnings into improvements, INRD is in the best physical condition it has ever been,” Hoback said in a statement. “With innovative marketing and customer service, we have grown our business by a compounded rate of more than 12 percent annually, and today we move the equivalent of more than 800,000 truckloads of freight per year. The transformation of this company has been truly remarkable, and it’s due to an entrepreneurial spirit and an outstanding group of professionals who are among the best in the business.”

Mills is vice president of finance operations for CSX and has served on the INRD board for 10 years. He will resign from CSX on June 30 after a 26-year career and relocate to Indianapolis.

Mills earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Delaware and has held numerous management and financial leadership positions for CSX, including managing director of investor relations and director of international sales and marketing for Europe.

“Pete is a natural fit to assume leadership at Indiana Rail Road because he will continue the legacy of entrepreneurial thinking that has made us so successful,” Hoback said. “He will bring a real passion for business development while drawing on his commercial management experience.”

“This is the career opportunity of a lifetime for me to join Indiana Rail Road,” Mills said. “Tom and his team have built a remarkable franchise with which I have been associated for the past 10 years in my role on the board. I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to the future.”

The Indiana Rail Road was founded in March 1986, taking over a former Illinois Central branch line that originally extended from Effingham, Ill., to Indianapolis.

In 1977, Illinois Central Gulf petitioned to abandon the line between Indianapolis and Linton, Ind.

The petition was denied, but the line was ordered closed after numerous track defects were discovered in a 38-mile stretch.

The line reopened two years later and shortly thereafter ICG reached an agreement to sell the route to Hoback and his investors.

A 2006 acquisition brought the Canadian Pacific’s southern Indiana operations (former Milwaukee Road) into the Indiana Rail Road network, thereby providing the INRD access to Chicago and Louisville.

Despite what were considered long odds and doubts that a turnaround was possible, Hoback and his team of 16 employees at the startup of the INRD worked to restore customer confidence in the railroad.

Today, INRD moves Indiana cargo to and from Asia and points all over North America, and is considered a short-line industry leader in safety, technology and marketing.

Hoback also helped build a legacy of corporate giving and community involvement at INRD. A passionate supporter of public safety, education, historic preservation and the arts, he directed corporate donations toward police, fire and school infrastructure, and the purchase of classroom equipment and education materials for communities across the railroad’s system.

“After nearly 30 years of concentrated focus on growth, and having reinvested nearly $200 million of our earnings into improvements, INRD is in the best physical condition it has ever been,” Hoback said. “With innovative marketing and customer service, we have grown our business by a compounded rate of more than 12 percent annually, and today we move the equivalent of more than 800,000 truckloads of freight per year. The transformation of this company has been truly remarkable.”