Alexander Kummant is new President/CEO

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Anthony

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The Amtrak Board appointed a new President/CEO today. Former UP exec Alexander Kummant will assume duties as of Sep 12.
 

Anthony

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Source: Amtrak

"The Amtrak Board of Directors today appointed Alexander Kummant as

President and CEO. The veteran railroad and industrial executive will

assume duties September 12.

Kummant previously served as a Regional Vice President of the Union

Pacific Railroad, overseeing 6,000 transportation, engineering,

construction, mechanical, and other employees supporting an 8,000-mile

rail network. He also served as the Union Pacific's Vice President and

General Manager of Industrial Products, a $2 billion revenue business.

In leading both units, Kummant was responsible for substantially

improved customer service, on-time delivery of client products, and

significant gains in financial and operational performance.

Additionally at Union Pacific, Kummant held the role of Vice President

of Premium Operations, overseeing the intermodal and automotive network

performance.

Most recently, Kummant served as the Executive Vice President and Chief

Marketing Officer of Komatsu America Corporation, a division of the

second largest supplier of construction equipment nationwide. He has a

continuing record as an adaptable change agent in diverse environments.

Kummant's first job on the railroad came at age 18 in Lorain, Ohio,

working on a track crew for the Lake Terminal Railroad at the U.S. Steel

Lorain Works.

'Alex Kummant has the outstanding credentials and experience to lead a

changing Amtrak that is more customer-focused and fiscally responsible,'

said Amtrak Chairman David M. Laney. 'His appointment fulfills the

board's commitment to select an extraordinarily strong and capable

leader for Amtrak's future, building on the growing national desire for

more and improved passenger rail service.'

Kummant fills a position that has been held by David J. Hughes on an

interim basis since November 2005. Formerly Chief Engineer of Amtrak,

Hughes will continue to serve with the railroad in a yet to be specified

capacity. 'For the past nine months, David Hughes has stepped in and

performed exceptionally in leading our strategic reforms and operational

improvements,' said Laney. 'On behalf of the Amtrak Board of Directors,

he has our deepest admiration and respect, and we are delighted that he

will continue to play an important role in Amtrak's future.'

A native of Ohio, Kummant holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering

from Case Western Reserve University, a Master's degree in manufacturing

engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a M.B.A. from Stanford

University. He is married to Kathleen Regan Kummant, a former senior

executive with the Santa Fe and BNSF railroads."
 
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AlanB

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Hmm, wonder if his connections with UP will help solve the ongoing problems with running on UP? :unsure:
 

The Metropolitan

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Hmm, wonder if his connections with UP will help solve the ongoing problems with running on UP? :unsure:
Perhaps they will, but I fear just HOW!

He does seem to have a good railroading background, and has come through the ranks. I only hope that his UP affiliation doesn't indicate that the fox is now entering the hen house! :huh:
 

1702

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Hmm, wonder if his connections with UP will help solve the ongoing problems with running on UP? :unsure:
Perhaps they will, but I fear just HOW!

He does seem to have a good railroading background, and has come through the ranks. I only hope that his UP affiliation doesn't indicate that the fox is now entering the hen house! :huh:
Well, he definitely didn't come up thru the ranks........that was probably summer work done while going to high school/college. Here's a bit of his job history-

Prior to 2/11/98 spends 7 years with Emerson Electric, last post was President of their SWECO Division in Cincinnati, Ohio.

2/11/98 appointed President of the Filtran Unit of SPX Corp., Muskegon, Michigan.

8/99 (?) joins UP, holding a variety of management positions.

(?) leaves UP, becomes president of German firm BOMAG, leaves them 1/31/2005.

4/18/05 appointed Executive Vice-President & Chief Marketing Officer, Komatsu America Corp.

If his tenure at UP was successful, why did he leave? And this is now his third high-level position after leaving UP. Unless he's a person who thrives on challenges, why take on a job with (1) huge headaches, (2) relatively low salary, & (3) no stock options? Plus none of his prior jobs would have involved dealing with politicians on the scale he'll have to with Amtrak.

Perhaps he's more likely to be Laney's hand-puppet rather than a pawn of the UP. Come home, David Gunn, all is forgiven!
 

George Harris

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Another forum had a link to

http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/con...nt.asp?cycle=02

which gives his political contributions.

$4,523 total in two pieces done in 2002. That would hardly be enough to be noticed in DC, so this likely has nothing to do with his getting the job.

My main concern is that other that likely one summer of sweat, which if he really learned anything from it could make a real difference in his outlook, he has spent his entire working life in management in the true sense of the word. The amount of moving around is a little unnerving. I have seen too much of management that had no true understanding of what they were trying to manage to the extent that they even make Dilbert's boss look good.

Considering the relative ability of the UP to move trains compared to almost anybody and everybody else in the industry, I am not sure that being from UP managment ranks really indicates ability in knowing how to run a railroad.

George
 

frj1983

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Another forum had a link to http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/con...nt.asp?cycle=02

which gives his political contributions.

$4,523 total in two pieces done in 2002. That would hardly be enough to be noticed in DC, so this likely has nothing to do with his getting the job.

My main concern is that other that likely one summer of sweat, which if he really learned anything from it could make a real difference in his outlook, he has spent his entire working life in management in the true sense of the word. The amount of moving around is a little unnerving. I have seen too much of management that had no true understanding of what they were trying to manage to the extent that they even make Dilbert's boss look good.

Considering the relative ability of the UP to move trains compared to almost anybody and everybody else in the industry, I am not sure that being from UP managment ranks really indicates ability in knowing how to run a railroad.

George
I agree with George,

I am a little unnerved too, when I see the constant jumping around. When hiring for my Department, that's an immediate "red flag" for me. I will, however, withold judgement, until I hear some of what he has to say.

I am, however, slightly nervous about all of this and I can't say why!
 
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Sam Damon

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For the time being, I'm going to be cautiously optimistic. If the man has worked on a track gang, even as a summer hire, I think he can't be all bad for Amtrak.

This opinion could change rapidly if he wants to kill LD trains, however. DaimlerChrysler recently acknowleged their internal planning for the next four years was based on $3.00+/gallon prices for gasoline; Amtrak needs to look at how to extend and improve service, not cutting it.

No business I have ever read about "saved their way to #1."
 

frj1983

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For the time being, I'm going to be cautiously optimistic. If the man has worked on a track gang, even as a summer hire, I think he can't be all bad for Amtrak.
This opinion could change rapidly if he wants to kill LD trains, however. DaimlerChrysler recently acknowleged their internal planning for the next four years was based on $3.00+/gallon prices for gasoline; Amtrak needs to look at how to extend and improve service, not cutting it.

No business I have ever read about "saved their way to #1."
Sam,

I agree on the issue of extending and improving service. But I think that Amtrak has to be planning for new equipment soon! Currently the shop forces are only doing cosmetic restorations on the Superliners, while a guy I know who works for Amtrak says the Superliner I's all need to be rewired and repiped or constant breakdown with electrics and plumbing are soon going to be a regular problem. In order to expand, I think new equipment is needed.

I also agree you can't save your way to #1, but I believe tha Amtrak Board is myopic and cannot be pushed from it's "supposed" cost saving view!
 

AlanB

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Currently the shop forces are only doing cosmetic restorations on the Superliners, while a guy I know who works for Amtrak says the Superliner I's all need to be rewired and repiped or constant breakdown with electrics and plumbing are soon going to be a regular problem.
That is perhaps the greatest tragedy that the "rebuilds" are cosmetic only. I was stunned when the sleeping car attendant opened the electrical cabinet on my recent EB trip to see the 30 year old breakers. He told me that everything else like that, that really matters operationally was still original. So while the inside may look nice and pleasing to the customer, in a few more years it will all be wasted as the rest of the car falls apart around the customer. :(
 

RailFanLNK

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I work for UPS and the trucks are always shiny, but I still don't have power steering! :lol: Yeah...I was perusing the Amtrak site last night, noticed we had a new Prez and thought that "I had the big scoop" and I was about 12 hours behind! :( When I see someone who has job jumped as much as this guy, I get a little quesy. But I will see what he brings to the table. That is....if he shows up at the table where most of the Bush appointees haven't shown up for anything yet. :lol:
 

Trogdor

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I've only been on a couple of Amtrak's remanufactured sleepers on the Empire Builder. To say nothing of the stuff that the passenger doesn't see, I was really disappointed in the quality of a few minor items, such as the tray tables. On both cars, the tray tables were defective in most, if not all of the rooms. I don't know why that was (the car attendant on the way out said that the tray tables were a problem in a lot of the rebuilt cars), as they appeared to be the same design they have always been. Apparently there were also problems with the top bunks, too, and the car attendant didn't even want me to put the bed down myself, just in case something happened. Maybe he was being overly cautious, or maybe there is a problem with the top bunks coming down too fast or not securing in place or something.

At least the bathrooms are nice.
 

chertling

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If his tenure at UP was successful, why did he leave? And this is now his third high-level position after leaving UP. Unless he's a person who thrives on challenges, why take on a job with (1) huge headaches, (2) relatively low salary, & (3) no stock options? Plus none of his prior jobs would have involved dealing with politicians on the scale he'll have to with Amtrak.
Perhaps he's more likely to be Laney's hand-puppet rather than a pawn of the UP. Come home, David Gunn, all is forgiven!
My Grandfather lives directly next door to Kathleen Regan Kummant's parents in suburban St. Louis. I had heard about a week ago that Kathleen's husband was considering taking the Amtrak CEO position, but I didn't know his name (or even Kathleen's married last name). From what I have heard, Kummant has a reputation for successfully turning around troubled companies. Given this, it seems to me that he does thrive on challenges. I hope he is up to the challenge of turning around Amtrak. (and I hope that his idea of turning Amtrak around involves adding more Long and Short Distance routes, not cutting back on them)
 

Sam Damon

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I agree on the issue of extending and improving service. But I think that Amtrak has to be planning for new equipment soon! Currently the shop forces are only doing cosmetic restorations on the Superliners, while a guy I know who works for Amtrak says the Superliner I's all need to be rewired and repiped or constant breakdown with electrics and plumbing are soon going to be a regular problem. In order to expand, I think new equipment is needed.
I should have made it clearer; implicit to me with looking at "extending and improving service" is finding the funding for new equipment. Replacing Amfleet cars alone is going to run $1 billion+, let alone the Superliner successors. That sort of scratch is not going to be easy to find, even if gasoline is $3.00+ a gallon.

Emerson Electric has had a reputation in business circles as being an exceptionally well-run organization. I think it well might be safe to say Kummant was steeped in this sort of thing while at Emerson:

We responded to rising global competition in the 1980s by defining a new Best Cost Producer Strategy. The idea was to not compete exclusively on price but rather on value—the optimum combination of products, services, and pricing—as perceived by our customers: best cost, not lowest cost.
The Best Cost Producer strategy originally consisted of six points (see "Emerson's Best Cost Producer Strategy: 1980s") that mingled old and new management policies and principles at Emerson. We maintained our traditional emphasis on formalized cost-reduction programs, effective communications, and ongoing capital expenditures. However, we stopped using ourselves as a benchmark and focused instead on the best-in-class competitors, wherever they happened to be.
Such ideas transplanted into Amtrak would mark a revolution in the USA intercity passenger rail system.
 

boratwanksta

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Another forum had a link to http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/con...nt.asp?cycle=02

which gives his political contributions.

$4,523 total in two pieces done in 2002. That would hardly be enough to be noticed in DC, so this likely has nothing to do with his getting the job.

My main concern is that other that likely one summer of sweat, which if he really learned anything from it could make a real difference in his outlook, he has spent his entire working life in management in the true sense of the word. The amount of moving around is a little unnerving. I have seen too much of management that had no true understanding of what they were trying to manage to the extent that they even make Dilbert's boss look good.

Considering the relative ability of the UP to move trains compared to almost anybody and everybody else in the industry, I am not sure that being from UP managment ranks really indicates ability in knowing how to run a railroad.

George
i'd say i feel exactly the same way as you right now about Mr. Kummant accepting the Amtrak CEO/President job. i have mixed feelings about him, but i echo the sentiment of another poster who said that he hopes his ties to UP will force them to stop severely delaying Amtrak trains in favor of their freight traffic so damn often. too bad that railroad traffic relief(by building 2nd tracks in certain rail routes through rural areas that are single-track) probably won't happen as quickly as i'd like to see happen among many freight RRs, save for BNSF's inititive to do this on the line that the SW Chief runs on(and a few of BNSF's other lines)
 
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UTU, AFL-CIO voice concerns over new Amtrak CEO

The United Transportation Union and the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department each expressed concern about the qualifications of Amtrak’s new president, Alexander Kummant, as reported by Bureau of National Affairs writer Derrick Cain.

Frank Wilner, spokesman for the UTU, who also wrote the book The Amtrak Story, said Kummant's “history of moving from job to job” concerns him. “Amtrak has been plagued with no continuity,” Wilner said. “I am concerned that [Kummant] has not held his jobs.” Since 1998, Kummant has held seven different jobs, including vice president of Union Pacific’s Central Division.

Wilner also said that he spoke with Union Pacific shippers who claimed that Kummant “never learned very much about railroads.” Wilner and others noted that railroad executives usually keep their positions for lengthy periods of time.

Ed Wytkind, executive director of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, said his group would not comment on Kummant's past work experience. Instead, he offered an opinion as to what Kummant faces at the new job.

”Obviously, the new CEO inherits ruptured labor/management relations left by his predecessors,” Wytkind said. Wytkind said many Amtrak employees have not had a raise in seven years. “He is inheriting the mess,” Wytkind said. “His master has been wedded to the break-up of Amtrak.” In context “his master” referred to the Amtrak Board of Directors.

Amtrak Board Chairman David M. Laney announced that Kummant was tapped to permanently fill the vacancy created when David Gunn was abruptly fired by the board in November.

“Alex Kummant has the outstanding credentials and experience to lead a changing Amtrak that is more customer-focused and fiscally responsible,” Laney said. “His appointment fulfills the board's commitment to select an extraordinarily strong and capable leader for Amtrak's future, building on the growing national desire for more and improved passenger rail service.”

Kummant, who will assume the CEO duties on Sept. 12, previously served as a regional vice president of the Union Pacific Railroad, overseeing 6,000 transportation, engineering, construction, mechanical, and other employees supporting an 8,000-mile rail network. He also served as the Union Pacific's vice president and general manager of industrial products, a $2 billion revenue business, according to Amtrak.

In leading both units, Kummant was credited with substantially improving customer service and on-time delivery of client products, as well as with significant gains in financial and operational performance. Additionally at Union Pacific, Kummant held the role of vice president of premium operations, overseeing the intermodal and automotive network performance. He worked with Union Pacific from September 1999 to an unknown date in 2003, according to railroad stakeholders.

After leaving Union Pacific, Kummant became president of BOMAG, which is a Germany-based manufacturer of heavy and light equipment for soil, asphalt, and refuse compaction. He reportedly began that job in April 2004 and remained until January 2005. In April 2005, Kummant was hired as the executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Komatsu America Corp., a division of the second largest supplier of construction equipment worldwide. He departed Komatsu, going to Invensys Controls in May 2006, as a vice president. Invensys Controls labels itself as a “global automation, controls and process solutions group.”

Kummant's first job on the railroad came at age 18 in Lorain, Ohio, working on a track crew for the Lake Terminal Railroad at the U.S. Steel Lorain Works, according to Amtrak.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said Kummant's time at Union Pacific should help Amtrak to better work with its partners in the freight rail industry. “I look forward to learning more about him and working with him, especially as Congress takes up Amtrak reform legislation this fall,” Carper said.

Ross Capon, executive director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, said that some rail stakeholders are "going ballistic" over his employment with Union Pacific, which is constantly at odds with Amtrak over rail capacity and usage issues. “But for me, because he worked four years of his 20-year career with Union Pacific, it is not significant,” Capon said. “I do not assume that anyone working for Union Pacific is out to kill Amtrak.”

Capon said he is more concerned about the number of jobs Kummant has held, noting the frequent leadership change at Amtrak over the past 10 years. “Amtrak needs stability and someone to be around for a while,” Capon said.

Gunn was hired in May 2002 and served until his firing in November 2005. His annual salary was $275,000. Kummant's annual salary will be $350,000.

Wilner also noted Kummant's financial contributions to the Republican Party. Kummant donated $1,000 to the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign on June 30, 2003, according to the Federal Election Commission database. Kummant's wife, Kathleen Regan Kummant, also contributed $1,000 to the campaign at the same time. His wife is a former senior executive with BNSF Railway, where she was vice president of business development.

Alexander Kummant also contributed $6,523 to the Union Pacific Corporation for Effective Governments between 2000 and 2002, according to the FEC. That group made several $10,000 donations to mostly Republican candidates, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Railroads Subcommittee. The group has also made contributions to Democratic lawmakers, but the majority of money went to Republican candidates.

”Kummant was hand-picked despite a lack of experience,” Wilner said. “UTU has concerns on whether he's coming in with the preconceived notion to reduce or eliminate Amtrak. The administration has made no secret of its desire for major reforms at Amtrak, even floating proposals that would steer the nation's commercial passenger rail system to a privatized system.” For instance, in 2005, the administration proposed a budget for Amtrak essentially zeroing it out.

Kummant fills a position that has been held by David J. Hughes on an interim basis since November 2005. Formerly Amtrak chief engineer, Hughes will continue to serve with the railroad in a yet to be specified capacity, Amtrak said.

”For the past nine months, David Hughes has stepped in and performed exceptionally in leading our strategic reforms and operational improvements,” Laney said. “On behalf of the Amtrak Board of Directors, he has our deepest admiration and respect, and we are delighted that he will continue to play an important role in Amtrak's future.”

Kummant holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, a master's degree in manufacturing engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and an M.B.A. from Stanford University.

(The preceding article, by Derrick Cain, was published August 31, 2006, by the Bureau of National Affairs.)

September 1, 2006
 
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$350,000 is not a huge salary for the CEO of a company such as Amtrak - with 19,000+ employees - over a billion in revenue generation - and a series of daunting challenges. I am sure there are also results driven bonuses tied to his goals and a large payout at the time he leaves the company.

I am also very surprised by the amount of "chatter" about his job history. The search firm doing the screening is one of the very best and they are clearly instructed by the Board as to what kind of person they are looking for, so if he is not what is needed (in the minds of the people on this forum) - or if he is what the Board needs - then we will probably see evidence of his plan in a very short period of time.
 
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