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  • BOB MEREDITH

    . . . out on the front line w h e r e everything counts

    Meet Bob Meredith, Salesman. You see him making the

    rounds. What's he selling? "You," he says. "I mean that literally," he empha-

    sizes. "The only product anybody will

    buy from me is efficient transporta-tion. And you Penn Central people are the ones I depend upon to pro-duce it.

    "I mean you trainmen, enginemen, yard clerks, yardmasters.

    "I mean freight agents, car tracers, car inspectors, car repairmen.

    "I mean trackmen, signalmen, towermen, rate clerks, secretaries, key-punch operatorsall the thou-sands of people who have something to do with moving freight or dealing with customers or helping the Rail-road reach top efficiency.

    "Your knowledge, your skill, your conscientious w o r k . . . .

    'That ' s what I'm selling." Robert G. Meredith is a redheaded

    six-footer who started railroading in 1946 as a telegrapher in his home town, Westport, Ind., after two years with the U.S. Marines. He's now the PC sales representative covering the northern half of Youngstown, Ohio, and the busy industrial area stretch-ing up toward Lake Erie.

    He's one of Penn Central's sales-men who solicit business along the 20,000-mile System and in key cities elsewhere in the country.

    "Our Railroad's very existence de-

    B o b M e r e d i t h starts his d a y m a k i n g s u r e his c u s t o m e r s ' f r e i g h t is m o v i n g o n t i m e .

    H e cal ls o n F l o y d L. P o i r e r , t ra f f ic m a n a -g e r f o r K a i s e r R e f r a c t o r i e s , t o discuss t h e a v a i l a b i l i t y o f D F ( d a m a g e - f r e e ) c a r s .

    pends upon attracting more busi-nessbringing in more dollars to meet our payroll and pay our bills," Bob Meredith says in his broad-voweled Hoosier way.

    His typical work day is a series of ups and downs.

    "One call gets you new carloads the next one is a turndown," he says.

    He tells about a visit to a small manufacturing firm.

    "I handed in my card and waited," he recalls. "And waited.

    "After twenty minutes, the traffic manager walked in, said, 'I have nothing for you,' and walked out before I could get in a word."

    But things turned out differently in a call at another firm.

    "We'd been getting practically none of this company's business," Bob Meredith says. "I found that the trouble was that we couldn't provide the special bulkheaded gon-dolas this company needed.

    "After several calls and consulta-tion with our Transportation Depart-ment, we worked out an arrangement to get these cars from a connecting line which serves the Southwest, where this freight was going.

    "We got the businessfirst a little, then a lot.

    "We were subsequently able to supply new cars of the same type, built by us.

    "And this shipper is very happy with our servicewhich brings us revenue in the tens of thousands of dollars."

    Bob Meredith's day starts with an early breakfast with his wife, Ruth, before their daughtersJulie, Kathy and Lindaare awake. He gets to the PC office in downtown Youngs-town by 7:45 A.M., and promptly starts checking how his customers' freight is being handled.

    First, he gets a list of the loaded cars waybilled out of his territory the day before. He selects cars that need particular attention and types their numbers on his ICL (Instant Car Locator) machine. This produces a tape, which transmits his message to the central computer.

    Back comes a message giving the last reported location of each car, thus verifying whether the car is being moved on schedule. If action is needed, he phones the trainmas-ter's office.

    Next he reviews his "yellow sheet" the computer report of freight volume in his territory, showing where business is going up or down. This guides him in planning his calls.

    Then he's out in his automobile, covering his territory.

    To the customers he calls upon, a sales representative is many things. He's the guy the shipper looks for

    In his c a r h e p r e p a r e s f o r his n e x t c a l l b y r e v i e w i n g t h e latest r e p o r t o n t h e v o l -u m e a n d t r e n d s o f t h e customer's f r e i g h t .

    B o b M e r e d i t h discusses l o a d i n g s w i t h A l M . B r o e n n l e , d i r e c t o r o f p u r c h a s e s a n d t raf f ic a t V a l l e y M o l d a n d I r o n C o . , m a k e r o f p i g - i r o n m o l d s , w h i c h w e i g h a s m u c h as 50 t o n s .

    ments, to get advice on problem shipments, to clear up rate questions, to get loading suggestions, to get cost-cutting ideas, and to be the liai-son between the customer and the Transportation and other Depart-ments.

    "You never know what you're going to run into," Bob Meredith says.

    On a recent visit to a major com-pany, Mr. Meredith found that the shipper had ordered three empty DF (damage-free) boxcars, but only two had arrived.

    The shipper couldn't waithe gave the third load to a motor carrier.

    "This shipper doesn't have to rely exclusively upon us," says Bob Mere-dith. "In addition to trucking com-panies, the main lines of two com-peting railroads run through here, and, let's face it, they provide good service. W e ' v e got to do some step-ping to be competitive."

    On another call, a shipper com-plained that a PC switching crew had run a car too hard into his siding, breaking the bumping post. Mr. Meredith promptly checked with Division officials; the damage was inspected; and the shipper was told to get the damage repaired and for-ward the bill to Penn Central.

    A call on a steel company brought a hearty compliment. Penn Central and a connecting line had collabor-ated in providing faster-than-ever delivery for a carload of steel bars to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    But at a baking company, Bob Meredith was met by an angry traf-fic manager. A TrailVan trailer loaded with urgently needed baking supplies had been misrouted, causing delayed delivery and disrupting the company's production schedule.

    "I'm disgusted," snapped the bak-ing company official. "See that this doesn't happen again, or I'll have to make some other arrangement to re-ceive these supplies."

    What had happened, Mr. Meredith says, was that the use of the Trail-Van ramp facility at Youngstown had been discontinued some time ago, and the ramp at Canton was being used. Somebody along the line had overlooked this and routed the Trail-Van car to Youngstown.

    "Believe me, we've gotten the word out so we won't make that same mistake again," he says.

    Despite such incidents, there is overwhelming evidence that PC service has made a vast improve-ment, declares Mr. Meredith"and

    Y o u t r y t o p l a n y o u r d a y w i t h a d v a n c e a p -p o i n t m e n t s , b u t s o m e t i m e s y o u still h a v e t o w a i t t o s e e a b u s y t raf f ic m a n a g e r .

    shippers are responding to this im-provement."

    "For example, about a year ago, a producer of steel tubing stopped using our service for shipments to a certain North Jersey customer," he says. "The customer was unhappy with the delivery times, and re-quested a switch to trucks.

    "Well, lately the shipper has been so impressed with the job being done by Penn Central people that he has persuaded this customer to try rail again. And just the other day, we were given our first two carloads. They were handled with complete satisfaction."

    Bob Meredith says he often wishes all Penn Central people could have a chance to make the rounds with the sales representatives.

    "Then you'd realize that every little thing you do to help make the Railroad more efficient is important to us out there on the front line," he points o u t

    "So I'm not kidding, I'm not exag-gerating, when I say:

    "What we salesmen are selling is . . . .You."

    B o b M e r e d i t h w o r k s f o r P C , b u t m a i n l y h e w o r k s f o r M r s . M e r e d i t h , J u l i e , K a t h y , L i n d a .

  • N e w Haven Change States assume financial responsibility for commuter service on this line

    he final papers were signed, and the changeover became official

    as of January 1: The States of New York and Con-

    necticut assumed financial responsi-bility for commuter service between New Haven, Conn., and New York City, including the Danbury, Water-bury and New Canaan branches.

    "This is the beginning of a new era in public transportation," said William H. Moore, president of Penn Central Transportation Company. He pointed out that the two States "will be able to do things that are beyond the financial ability of Penn Central or any private enterprise."

    The arrangement works like this: The Connecticut Transportation

    Authority (CTA) has taken a 60-year lease on the line from New Haven to the New York State border.

    New York's Metropolitan Trans-portation Authority (MTA) has pur-chased the line from the border to Woodlawn Junction, N.Y.

    The New Haven West-End Service will pay tolls for use of the tracks from Woodlawn Junction to Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

    The State Authorities will specify the number of trains, the schedules and the fares on this line, which carries about 27,000 commuters daily.

    The Railroad will provide the ser-vice required under a Service Con-tract with MTA and CTA, and will be paid a fee of $100,000 a year.

    The employes will continue to be employes of Penn Central Transpor-tation Company. The Service Con-tract signed by the Railroad and the two State Authorities makes this clear:

    "Penn Central shall have sole re-sponsibility for the day-to-day oper-ation of the service, and shall provide the necessary crews, work force, and supervising personnel, none of whom shall be deemed to be employes of M

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