BNSF announces transition from Rose to Ice
Privately held BNSF Railway, a major Class I carrier that operates in the western two-thirds of the United States, announced Wednesday that long-time Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Matthew Rose will step aside Jan. 1. Carl Ice, the current president/chief operating officer, will become president and chief executive officer.
Rose, 53, is considered a titan in the freight industry having successfully managed BNSF's rise into one of the most profitable rail operators in North America. His experience in marketing and in the trucking industry helped transform the railroad into a more customer-centric and reliable service provider. He was a key figure in the deal that allowed investment group Berkshire Hathaway to buy a majority stake in BNSF and take the company private in early 2010. And he is a powerful voice in Washington on transportation policy. Between 2005 and 2007, he served on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission created by Congress to provide recommendations for reauthorizing infrastructure and safety programs.
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffet praised Rose's leadership, but three years ago the company split the CEO and president roles, naming Ice as president. Now those roles will be combined again.
Rose, who took the BNSF helm in 2000, will assume the role of executive chairman, where he will work during the next decade on strategic issues important to the company, including long-term organizational planning, market positioning and public policy.
"BNSF's performance has far exceeded the high expectations I had at the time of Berkshire's purchase. 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," Buffet said.
Ice has worked at BNSF for 34 years. In 1995, he led a team that orchestrated the merger and subsequent integration of Burlington Northern Railroad and Santa Fe Railway. He has served as chief operating officer since 2000 and retained that position when he became president.
"For over a decade, Carl has worked alongside me, and his assumption of the CEO title is a natural and well-deserved transition," Rose said. "I am pleased for him and the organization, and the continuity he represents as he undertakes . . . this role."
Rose worked as a brakeman and switchman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad during summer breaks in college and joined the company afterward as a management trainee. He left to join the trucking outfit International Utilities and then went to work for Schneider National, a giant truckload carrier, and Triple Crown Services, which offered intermodal service.
Rose joined Burlington Northern Railroad in 1993 and was named vice president of vehicles and machinery the following year. After the Santa Fe merger, he became vice president of chemicals. In 1996, he was promoted to senior vice president of merchandise business and quickly moved up to chief operating officer.
Rose is credited with using the Internet early on to help match supply and demand and with burnishing the company's intermodal capabilties, and then convincing shippers to move more consumer goods by rail.
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