LIMA – John Seifert, plant manager at the Cairo office of Eagle Railcar Services, pondered the question for several seconds.
What single word best describes the expertise exhibited by Seifert and the company’s nearly 90 employees? What sets the company apart from its competitors?
“That’s hard to answer because we do so many things here,” Seifert said. “All I know is that other rail car shops are being sold left and right … and we’re still growing.”
Eagle Railcar provides a host of services in rehabilitating and refurbishing train cars that spend the bulk of their days riding the rails. A newly-constructed building at the Cairo plant, located at 7579 Ottawa Road (state Route 65) is where employees clean rail car valves, rebuild them and re-install them.
In another building, more traditional repairs are performed. Cars are cleaned, painted and re-lined in still other sections of the plant.
Pressed again for a single word that describes what Eagle Railcar Services does best, Seifert replied, “Compliance. That’s a big one. It seems that changes come daily — certainly quarterly — from the federal government and the American Association of Railroads,” he said. “We are constantly training our employees; it’s an everyday thing.”
Eagle Railcar operates five full-service repair and maintenance shops, located in Elkhart, Roscoe and Wichita Falls, Texas, and Washington, Indiana, in addition to the Allen County location.
“I’ve been here since late 2012, when we had 12 employees,” said Seifert, who took over as plant manager in 2014.
Human Resources Manager Bobbi Frysinger said the labor force continues to grow at the local plant. The company is always looking for welders, Seifert said, “and we have a lot of difficulty finding them. We just raised our starting (wage) for welders to hopefully attract more” qualified candidates.
Asked to describe the company’s typical customer, Seifert — with tongue firmly in cheek — answered, “Rail car owners.”
“Not much of our work comes from the railroads themselves,” the plant manager said. “Railroads themselves don’t own many cars. They own the engines, but we don’t work on those.”
The Cairo shop also handles railroad emergency response situations involving hazardous and non-hazardous materials as well as off-site chemical and product compressed gas transfers and mobile flaring, according to the company’s website.