Sunday, February 05, 2017

Changing of the guard at GWI

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Mortimer B. Fuller III, left, will retire in May 2017; Jack Hellmann will be appointed Genesee & Wyoming’s chairman following Fuller’s retirement. Mortimer B. Fuller III, left, will retire in May 2017; Jack Hellmann will be appointed Genesee & Wyoming’s chairman following Fuller’s retirement. Composite photo courtesy RT&S
Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI) Chairman of the Board of Directors Mortimer B. Fuller III, 74, has announced his retirement effective following the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting this May. His successor will be current CEO Jack Hellmann.

“Mr. Fuller’s retirement will serve as the culmination of a remarkable 40 years of distinguished service to the company, its stockholders and the short line railroad industry,” the company said in a statement.

Fuller was named Chairman in 1977, after he purchased a controlling interest in the original Genesee & Wyoming Railroad, the company’s corporate predecessor founded by his great grandfather in 1899. He has since been Chairman for 40 years and CEO for 30 years. Throughout Fuller’s time with the company, GWI says he has “shown constant focus on development and facilitated the groundwork for the company’s core purpose: to be the safest and most respected rail service provider worldwide.”

“I am proud of all that the [GWI] team has accomplished over the years,” Fuller said. “The commitment of our remarkable employees, exceptional, industry-leading safety performance and the strength and depth of the organization today is more than I ever imagined in 1977. The transition to a new generation of leadership has been a seamless process, and I’m confident [GWI] will continue to create value for all stockholders in the years to come.”

The company noted that Fuller led growth by acquisition following the Staggers Act partial deregulation of the U.S. rail industry in 1980 through an initial public offering in 1996 and an expansion into the Australian and Canadian rail markets the following year. The company has continued to make acquisitions in those markets and recently expanded to the U.K. and Europe.

Many of GWI’s executive leadership members have joined the company under Fuller’s oversight. GWI said Fuller’s retirement correlates with the company and Governance Committee guidelines established by GWI’s Board of Directors. Fuller turns 75 in mid-May,

“Through the execution of Mort’s extraordinary vision for his family business, [GWI] has grown from a 14-mile short line railroad in upstate New York with 1977 revenues of $4.4 million, to a portfolio of 122 freight railroads worldwide with 2015 revenues of $2 billion,” said GWI CEO and Board Member Jack Hellmann. “On behalf of our railroads, employees around the world and our Board of Directors, I would like to express sincere gratitude for Mort’s lifelong commitment to the organization and its people. It is an honor to carry on the core values, entrepreneurial spirit and ethical business practices that were instilled by Mort and have distinguished [GWI] for the past four decades.”

GWI said Hellmann will be appointed Chairman of the Board following Fuller’s retirement in May. Hellmann’s new appointment will also allow for Oivind Lorentzen to be named as GWI’s lead independent director.

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