Bringing the Team Together

For Joely Gath-Phelps, Watco is a family affair. Her mom and husband are also team members, but her efforts to bring the whole team and community together is where it really shows.

Gath-Phelps is a railcar revenue specialist in the Pittsburg, Kansas, office. Her day-to-day involves solving issues with freight claims, car hire, and demurrage for Watco railroads. But that also regularly includes using her free time to organize team building and community engagements events. And it’s not always just for the office team. Team members from the Pittsburg Transload Terminal and South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad (SKOL) are often encouraged to take part.

Most recently, she led the effort for Watco’s return to Pittsburg Parks & Recreation’s Corporate Challenge. She ensured our team had participants and supporters at every event, kept our team updated on the standings, helped procure custom shirts for participants, and led Watco to a respectable 4th place finish.

Other annual events Gath-Phelps leads include the holiday food drive and spirit weeks. The food drive pits different departments and teams against each other to collect the most food donations for a local charity during the holiday season. Spirit weeks encourage team members to express themselves and work together.

“She thought it would be a good way to bring everyone together and do team activities in a work environment,” said Carla Ewing, senior vice president of Service Assurance. “It brought a lot of joy to this office and gave people a reason to come out of their shells and talk to others outside their departments. You could email with somebody but not realize they were the person six cubicles away from you.”

She’s also an Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteer, meaning she represents the Operation Lifesaver organization, Watco, and the rail industry by organizing and leading rail safety awareness events at schools and community events in Southeast Kansas. Many of these presentations at local elementary schools also align with the annual Christmas Express SKOL train ride for first graders each year.

“I truly feel that Joely embodies the Watco culture of thinking about our people and how to give back to the communities we serve,” said Ewing. “She does it in a way that everyone feels included and wants to work together, and in general brings a smile to the face of almost everyone she meets.”

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