What were GATX Rail Europe’s top challenges and achievements in 2022?
For an in-depth look, our Executive Team’s roundtable discussion gives a quick but comprehensive review of our business year. The panel included the following participants: Vice President of Global Business Development Christopher LaHurd, Chief Commercial Officer Joerg Nowaczyk, Chief Financial Officer Jacek Glowacki, Chief Human Resources Officer Anna Macidlowska, Legal Counsel Gregor Gessner, Chief Technical Officer Goetz Nink, and Chief Executive Officer Johann Feindert.
Johann: Another year has sped by, putting us to the test with a novel round of obstacles. To prevail, we had no choice but to go forward. Recent events in Europe produced a significant wave of uncertainty, which further challenged us to be agile and flexible as a business, via highly meticulous adjustments and assessments. But then again, being strategic is the only way for a company to stay on the right track. It is important to us to understand the complexity of both the industry we operate in as well as the global economic ecosystem. Our second EcoVadis silver medal achievement was an excellent way to evaluate our successes and policies’ integration.
Jörg: Indeed, we have advanced despite the current times of uncertainty. The war in Ukraine was a major source of insecurity, tragedies and sanctions, often imposing changes to our negotiations with clients. Nevertheless, our organization carried on with very good team spirit leading us to new projects. For example, we assessed our sales force structure and are getting ready to further optimize our market-orientation and customer service in 2023. Also, we look forward with great excitement to the unveiling of our latest railcar-type addition. We anticipate its arrival will provide a solid platform for the rise of new contracts and partnerships in a new industry for us.
Gregor: From a legal point of view, we successfully introduced new business-oriented general terms and conditions and contract templates. We carefully navigated through the rapidly evolving sanctions landscape due to the war in Ukraine. We are proud that our compliance efforts have been recognized by our second EcoVadis silver medal. I am confident that we are on the right path and looking forward to further strengthening GATX Rail Europe’s compliance culture.
Chris: Despite various hurdles in 2022, we are well positioned to expand our customer base, our commercial offerings, our fleet size, and our geographical footprint in 2023. A key element to this positioning is collaboration with various industry stakeholders, which hinges on strong business relationships within GATX and across the industries we serve. As an example, in 2022 we established a cross-selling and bundling capability with Trifleet, GATX’s tank container leasing platform, to better serve our customers and offer them a broader menu of assets. Thankfully, post-COVID travel has opened, making collaboration, communication, and networking easier and more personal. Meeting face-to-face in 2022 with European colleagues, customers, and suppliers has paved the way for new projects and innovations that will be realized in 2023 and beyond.
Jacek: And we have made remarkable progress in terms of 2022 innovations. Together, with our partner Unity, we optimized the communication flow and data exchange with 26 of our partner workshops with a Digital Shop Portal, significantly cutting costs and reducing maintenance downtimes. We also made a huge leap forward with our cutting-edge telematics and sensors advancements. We have great things in store for both our customers and teams!
Goetz: From a technical point of view, we will still optimizing the structure of our technical teams across Europe. Some of our imperative projects included the end-of-life process for old railcars, the water-based wheelset painting in WSO, and the organization of the Safety Days events for WSO employees and the GATX Rail Europe newcomers in our own workshop at WSO.
Anna: Certainly, the present market situation has posed challenges to acquiring and retaining talent. Nevertheless, we have proven that we can provide a welcoming, dynamic, and competitive work environment. We have met the employee salary expectations, provided good benefits, and successfully managed our return-to-office and new hybrid work system.
Johann: There were a lot of difficult topics and projects to tackle, and the entire GATX team worked hard to do just that. We are thankful for our colleagues who have stood together as a team in this difficult time. They have achieved extraordinary things and we are proud of the whole European team. We look forward to continue making railcar leasing easier for all! Wishing everyone happy holidays!