Data Deep-Dive Helps Tell the Watco Story

OCTOBER 2023 — Watco operations have lots of moving pieces. Often, the data that explains exactly what our team does for customers is spread across many different platforms and can’t show the whole picture by itself. That’s especially true on the Ann Arbor Railroad (AA), and recently, Assistant Manager of Revenue Accounting Jennifer Otto-Lollar took it upon herself to fix that.

The AA’s largest customer is in the automotive industry. The team provides multiple services for the customer, including rail moves, storage, leases, external vendors, and more.

“We were working on a contract renewal with the Ann Arbor’s largest customer, opportunities to increase business with them, and trying to provide external stakeholders with relevant information,” said Jordan Wagner, senior vice president of finance. “We didn’t have a single source that housed those historical traffic and data trends. Jen took it upon herself to dig in and not just provide the relevant information, but summarize it in a way that highlighted all the value our team provides on the Ann Arbor each and every day.”

The complexity of the AA’s operations means that much of this data isn’t in the normal tracking systems Watco uses. Otto-Lollar had to pull information from several databases, filter through it all to find the relevant details, and compile that into actionable, useful data points. The challenge was also compounded by the recent retirement of a longtime AA team member who helped run much of the business locally and had extensive historical knowledge of the day-to-day data and reporting.

“She wasn’t starting from scratch, necessarily, but it’s one of those things that fell outside of everybody’s job description,” Wagner said. “Where there were still gaps, she used her relationships with our vendors to fill them in. She was able to paint a picture of the volume drivers so our team could go in and attach rates and costs associated with that business.”

Her hard work paid off. The better understanding of the business helped Watco renew the contract with our customer. And Watco was able to share auto industry trends and data with external stakeholders.

“She took ownership all the way through and got the right answers,” Wagner said. “Whenever we can provide extra insight, backed up by data, into what makes Watco move, it adds a lot of credibility to who we are and what our teams do every single day. Thanks to Jen, we’re able to share that story in a way people can understand and relate to.”

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