Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Chairman, President and CEO John C. “Jack” Hellmann, the 55th recipient of Railway Age’s Railroader of the Year Award, was honored on March 13 at the traditional annual dinner of the Western Railway Club at the Union League Club of Chicago.
Hellmann, 47, is leader of the world’s largest short line and regional railroad holding company, with 122 properties in five countries operating more than 15,000 miles of rail lines. He is among the industry’s youngest chief executives. Yet, he is a long-time railroader, with international experience as well as expertise in finance and business development. Hellmann oversees a growing company that in recent years has invested more than $2 billion in acquisitions and operating agreements. He has also been expanding the company into related transportation markets.
Hellmann joined Genesee & Wyoming in January 2000 and served as Chief Financial Officer through April 2005. He was named President in May 2005, joined the Board of Directors in 2006, and became CEO in June 2007, succeeding Mortimer B. Fuller III. Hellmann was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors in May 2017 following the retirement of Fuller, who had served as Chairman since 1977. Fuller is a great-grandson of Edward L. Fuller, who founded the 14.5-mile Genesee &Wyoming Railroad Co. in 1899.
Previously, Hellman worked in investment banking at Lehman Brothers, Inc., in the Emerging Communications Group, and at Schroder & Co. Inc., in the Transportation Group. He also worked for Weyerhaeuser Co. in Japan and the People’s Republic of China. He is a graduate of Princeton University and received an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Hellmann is a devoted family man. With his wife Betsy, an attorney, he is the father of three young children. An engaging, down-to-earth personality, he combines boundless energy and genuine enthusiasm for railroading with a love of learning and a natural curiosity shaped by years of world travel and exposure to different cultures.