Taking care of business at NS
Terry Evans, vice president transportation, calls Norfolk Southern’s 11 assistant division superintendents the railroad’s “unheralded heroes.” He should know. He held down the assistant superintendent job on two different divisions as he advanced up the ranks at NS.
“The assistant superintendents are responsible for everything – they do the discipline, the rules checks, train performance, the federal reporting, and training,” Evans said. “They are the point person. If anything goes wrong – go ask the assistant superintendent.”
As the right hand to the division superintendent, the assistant has extensive knowledge of the division and helps oversee everything from daily operations to NS’ behavior-based culture change. They spend much of their time on the road traveling to yards, terminals, and shops and meeting with terminal superintendents, yard and trainmasters, local union chairmen, and craft employees. Their day typically starts before sunrise and ends after sundown. They also answer middle-of-the-night phone calls about accidents, derailments, and mainline blockages. In the midst of it all, they are expected to remain uncompromising yet flexible, forthright yet tactful, and firm yet compassionate.
What they don’t often get are accolades. “It can be a thankless job,” Evans said. “You never see their names anywhere, and most people probably can’t even name them, but they’re the most important piece to success on a division.”
What follows is a look at three assistant division superintendents and the role they play to help NS be the best railroad it can be.