BNSF executive chairman Matt Rose set to retire in April 2019

Forth Worth Texas-based Class I railroad carrier BNSF Railway Company announced this week that Matt Rose, executive chairman, will retire in April 2019.

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Forth Worth Texas-based Class I railroad carrier Railway Company announced this week that Matt Rose, executive chairman, will retire in April 2019.

This will mark the end of a long career at BNSF for Rose, having served in his current position for six years by next April when he steps down, as CEO for the prior 13 years, and in senior leadership marketing and operations positions ahead of becoming CEO in 2000.

During his career at BNSF, Rose played a key role in helping with BNSF’s acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) in 2009, as well as myriad other efforts and initiatives, including:

  • achieving productivity especially through technological advancement;
  • developing BNSF's employees;
  • overseeing the design of the BNSF Leadership Model in 2000 and successfully institutionalizing it to forge a cohesive BNSF corporate culture. Through the Leadership Model, BNSF has developed the leadership of teams and individuals across the company throughout the years, making BNSF more successful and resilient;
  • leading the company’s commitment to safety and productivity, which BNSF said is best demonstrated through his focus on technology, such as the company’s Positive Train Control implementation; and
  • his strong role in advocating that customer service is what drives profitability, the virtuous cycle of reinvestment, and provides the public license to operate, as well as navigating public policy for the benefit of BNSF and the industry throughout his career

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said that under Rose’s management BNSF has become a major source of profit and pride for Berkshire, adding that Rose himself has been an “exemplar” for corporate leadership.

“I have been incredibly fortunate to work alongside some of the most talented people in the transportation industry,” said Rose. “Through my 26 years at BNSF­ – 19 in leadership –  I have seen enormous change in our economy. Our company has navigated those changes well and now is extremely well positioned for the next several decades. It has been an honor to lead this organization, as a publicly traded company and also as part of BRK.”

Over the years, Rose has served as a key voice for the railroad sector in public forums. Some of the key messages he has communicated stressed the need for Congress and the White House to focus on programs related to freight project funding decisions and to provide the tools and specifics needed to move forward.

Efforts like this provide tremendous value in investing in and mitigating impacts in freight mobility, because when freight corridor projects benefit from freight movements, Rose has repeatedly pointed out the economic benefits, too. And while railroads pay for their own network expansion and improvements, more federal participation for public-private partnerships like the CREATE rail project and the Alameda Corridor in California are welcome and create significant value for all stakeholders and the economy.

Rose has also been vocal about Congress laying down the groundwork for continuing to adhere to the user-based system, which he said has worked well and is good policy. Maintaining a fair user-based system, he has said, will be the single determining factor in deciding whether capital will be able to flow into railroad infrastructure.”

What’s more, Rose has stated that he supports a user-based model for what many stakeholders contend is a major bone of contention for the railroads: increasing truck size and weight. BNSF, he said, is not opposed to larger trucks as long as trucks pay their fair share, given what the railroads are doing in that they are almost nearly funded with their own capital.

"Matt took the reins from Rob Krebs, after Rob had steered the company though the integration of BN and ATSF, and marched it to the next level," explained Brooks Bentz, president of Breakthrough Supply Chain LLC and a longtime freight railroad executive and supply chain consultant. "The railroad is both operationally and commercially sound and has made significant leaps forward in plowing capital back into the infrastructure and technology, leading the pack on PTC.  Matt was the first to see PTC as a potential enabler of significant productivity improvement/operating cost reduction, rather than an unplanned expense burden. This is just one good example of a visionary point of view the industry dearly needs. He will be missed." 

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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