Borrowed Teammates Help AWRR Catch Up

APRIL 2023 — Like substitute players who come into the game and shine while replacing starters, Watco team members Aaron Porter and Rhett Summar recently traveled from out of state to bring relief to a Watco Texas-based railroad.

Porter came to the Austin Western Railroad (AWRR) from the Louisiana Southern Railroad last September to assist the railcar supervisor there with repairs and billing at a time when the AWRR was behind.

“When he arrived, our railcar repair track was full,” said AWRR General Manager Anthony Hoyte. “There were cars on the opposite side of the railroad backed up and waiting to be moved to the repair track, and our regular maintenance schedule had fallen behind.”

Things were about to get even busier. In November, the AWRR railcar supervisor left to take a position with the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Mr. Porter ended up with that weight on his shoulders,” said Hoyte. Porter coordinates with the mechanical, maintenance of way, and operations departments. He plans all railcar repair, ensures needed parts are ordered, and handles billing.

Hoyte said Porter has stepped up and come through each challenge “with no issues. He’s great at communicating, keeping things organized, and working with the crews to keep car repair going. Mr. Porter has assisted us in removing several cars from our bad order list.”

Summar arrived at the AWRR in January from the Stillwater Central Railroad, and quickly became known as the location’s trainmaster point of contact. He worked overtime to train new hires, help the team switch, load, and unload railcars, and stay in constant communication with Watco’s Dispatch team and Class I partners to schedule the arrival and departure of railcars.

Decatur & Eastern Illinois Railroad Senior Trainmaster Matt Nicol also traveled to the AWRR, where he briefly worked with Summar. Nicol describes his experience working with him: “Rhett was invested in helping the AWRR. He wanted them to be successful. He didn’t just tell team members what to do, he went out of his way to show them the proper way to do it.”

Summar’s efforts helped keep rail operations humming. And on one particular occasion, he came to the rescue after a Class I partner was temporarily unable to move railcars at an interchange point because they didn’t have the necessary paperwork.

“Rhett got in his truck and drove across town to deliver the paperwork,” Nicol said. “He knew that if those cars didn’t move, it would cause a back up.”

The AWRR is grateful for all the support they’ve received from not only Porter and Summar but other Watco team members who temporarily relocated to help. Hoyte said, “We’re lucky we can depend on some of the best team members in the industry; thank you to everyone who traveled down to help us during a challenging time.”

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