Denise Phillips Remembered for a ‘Watco Mentality’

October 2021 – You’ll find that people are eager to praise Denise Phillips.

Phillips was a Watco team member who died in June 2021.

Brad Peot is a Wisconsin-based Sales Manager for Watco who worked a lot with Phillips for their internal customer, the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad (WSOR). Peot describes Phillips as “the embodiment of the Watco mentality.” He says she learned her job in the Fleet Management department, took ownership, and made it her own.

Phillips came to Watco with no experience in rail operations. But she was committed to learning and dedicated to serving the WSOR and its customers. She learned the ins and outs of keeping railcars loaded and moving.

“Our job is to control where all of our leased and owned railcars are going,” says her Pittsburg teammate, Senior Fleet Analyst Matt Troth. “We have customers put orders in for cars, and we have to figure out the most efficient way to utilize our assets and still meet the customers’ needs. This requires a lot of contact with our customers and our operations team.”   

Phillips excelled, and over time, she became the primary Fleet Manager for the WSOR. She stayed in regular contact with the customers on the WSOR to understand their needs and worked with them on solutions to keep railcars moving and supplied with cars in times of shortages. She would answer her phone on the weekends and after hours to help make sure train operations remained fluid. “Denise really treated the WSOR and its fleet of cars like it was her own business,” says Peot, “and the customers took note of this and hold her in very high regard.”

Troth agrees.Denise definitely took pride and ownership with making sure that she could provide her customers and her trainmasters with what they needed. Even after her car wreck, she was trying to tell me what I needed to do to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.

“To say that she cared about her customers and Watco team members would be an understatement,” Troth says. “Denise not only focused on her job, but she was aware of everyone around her. I can’t count the days that I was having a rough day and she would come back from lunch with cookies or cupcakes to brighten the day.”

Clearly, Denise Phillips made a difference. That’s something we can all aspire to do.


Read about others like Denise who are making a difference at Watco and beyond. Learn More