BNSF: Ice rises; Rose blooms

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

The announcement of a leadership transition at BNSF Railway was not unexpected: Effective Jan. 1, 2014, Carl Ice, President since 2010, will add the title of Chief Executive Officer. Matt Rose will become Executive Chairman, where he will be the railroad’s chief decision-maker, but without daily operational responsibilities.

Rose, 54—Railway Age’s 2010 Railroader of the Year following Warren Buffett’s “All-in bet on America” when the “Oracle of Omaha” bought 100% of BNSF and added the railroad to his Berkshire Hathaway portfolio—is the odds-on favorite to succeed Buffett, 83, as Berkshire Hathaway chairman.

“BNSF’s performance has far exceeded the high expectations I had at the time of Berkshire’s purchase,” Buffett said. “The combination of Matt’s and Carl’s talents is the perfect arrangement for the future. I consider Berkshire very fortunate to have these men at BNSF’s helm.”

Ice, 57, is a 34-year veteran of the railroad. In 1995, he led a team that orchestrated the merger and subsequent integration of Burlington Northern Railroad and Santa Fe Railway. “Since then, he has helped lead the company and culture into what it is today,” BNSF said. “Ice has been integral to the development of the company’s operating and marketing plans.”

“For more than a decade, Carl has worked alongside me, and his assumption of the CEO title is a natural and well-deserved transition,” said Rose. “I am pleased for him and the organization, and the continuity he represents as he undertakes the leadership of this role.”

BNSF said that “over the next decade, Rose will continue to work with BNSF’s leadership on the activities supporting BNSF’s strategic positioning for growth and investment, including long-term organizational planning, market positioning, and public policy.”

“I am humbled and honored to be in this role,” said Ice. “BNSF is a great organization with great people that provides important services to our customers and country. I look forward to continuing BNSF’s success in improving safety, providing quality service, and consistent growth.”

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