Railroad Industries: Little firm handling large jobs
With only six employees handling big consulting jobs around the country from a low-profile office in Reno, Railroad Industries Inc. is the little engine that could. Gary V. Hunter, chairman and chief executive of Railroad Industries Incorporated, ticks off just a few of the growing company’s big consulting jobs in the past few year
Evaluating all railroad equipment for the Florida East Coast Railway on behalf of Bank of America.
Working on the planning and engineering of new coal terminals at Alabama’s Port of Mobile, the 11th-largest port in the United States.
Assisting the State of Maine with its due diligence for acquisition of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railroad operations in the state.
Hunter says a key to the company’s growth during its 30-year history has been its wide variety of work — everything from railroad safety programs to railroad financial analysis to expert-witness work in transportation litigation.
“We understand the business from the ground up,” says Hunter. “We can look at the big picture. Most people don’t understand that.”
The company has thrived, too, with a diversified base of clients.
Railroad Industries Inc. contracts with local and state governments. It handles work for investor groups and banks. It undertakes market analysis jobs for companies as big as the Union Pacific, Proctor & Gamble and BNSF and as small as shortline railroads and local food producers. And it’s provided analysis for numerous economic development projects.
More than half its work is east of the Mississippi — far from its home base in northern Nevada.
But that doesn’t matter, Hunter says, so long as Reno-Tahoe International Airport provides good connections to the rest of the country.
He and his wife, Marietta Hunter, the company’s president, moved Railroad Industries Incorporated to Nevada in 1992 – not quite a decade after its founding in California – because they liked the lifestyle in northern Nevada.
He’d worked in operational and marketing positions for the Western Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads before getting into the consulting business.
Railroad Industries’ national reach also is supported by about a dozen associates around the country who provide specialized expertise to assist the work of the company’s headquarters staff.
The reliance on associates reflects Hunter’s cautious approach to growing the company’s staff, even as it business continues to rebound as the economy recovers.
Railroad Industries’ diversity — both in clients and geography — proved to be critically important during the darkest days of the recession, says Hunter. While new business was hard to find during the downturn, contracts with longtime clients kept the company on track.
Even though the company’s staff now is working nights and weekends to stay on top of its workload, Hunter works his deep connections in the transportation industry to make sure the company stays busy.
“The key is this: Don’t let up on your marketing,” he says.
His pitch to potential clients centers on the urgency that Railroad Industries Incorporated brings to its consulting roles.
“We make things happen,” Hunter says. “We get things done.”
From a national standpoint, research shows the embrace of digital commerce is a whole decade ahead of schedule thanks to the pandemic. We spoke with the Retail Association of Nevada, Downtown Reno Partnership and the Reno+Sparks Chamber of Commerce to give local context to the growth of online retail.