By Glenn Brendel, President
Beginning in the fall of 2007, our Society embarked on an unheralded period of change. It was little noticed at the time, but the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society began a period of transition which would fundamentally change how we do business in a remarkable and productive way. Events thrust some changes upon us; others were the recognition of need.
The board of directors initiated a totally new management approach for the Society. A much more structured approach was developed. Needs were quantified and in addition to the usual officer positions, various directors and Society members were assigned specific management tasks. New positions were established and corresponding detailed job descriptions published. Five new managers were appointed and two existing had specific job descriptions published.
The new positions include:
Communications Manager, Kelly Lynch
Training Manager, Tom Nitza
Shop Safety Manager, Al Rayner
Educational Outreach Chairman, Ben Sollenberger
Underwriter Search Chairman, Bill Otter
Mechanical Manager, Steve Winicker
Operations Manager, Rich Melvin
The new approach includes spreading the workload and specifying responsibilities in a focused, goal driven management style. The new effort is showing very positive results.
One of the most important aspects of our newly established efforts is our training program. The Training Manager has developed a very comprehensive training syllabus covering general shop practices and proper, safe operation of various shop and rail equipment. Over thirty volunteer members have attended these classes. When you see our volunteers wearing the distinctive black hard hat, it is their certificate of completion. They have all completed the initial training.
An inherent part of the training program is our emphasis on safety matters. Our Shop Safety Manager, working in concert with the Training Manager, has developed a comprehensive safety awareness program. To this end much effort has been expended. Fire extinguisher training has been offered and attended by many of our volunteers. Next up is a class in cardiopulmonary resuscitation to be offered this winter. All volunteers are encouraged to attend.
The Mechanical Manager continues the traditional role as overall supervisor of mechanical matters. He is tasked as our mechanical liaison with the Federal Railroad Administration. His office is responsible for administration of our extensive technical drawing and reference book libraries.
The Mechanical Manager is also the “keeper of the flame” for preserving disappearing skills and techniques through our Heritage Skills effort.
Other new management areas include a Communications Manager who is tasked with image building. He is responsible for our outstanding website and publishing of the Short Lines Newsletter.
The Educational Outreach Chairman’s responsibility includes providing educational opportunities through student and adult group tours.
Our Underwriter Search Chairman’s duty is researching and pursuing grants and donations from area industry and philanthropic organizations.
I know that steam operations are foremost in our member’s minds. The effort expended in scheduling and arranging excursion trips can be a prodigious amount of work for one person. We have addressed this perennial problem by establishing a three member Operations Task Force led by the Operations Manager. Dozens of personal contacts and electronic communications have been exchanged with railroad managers all around the Midwest. Proposals have been initiated for several trips beginning in May of 2009. To date, one contract has been initialed for the TrainFestival 2009 event in Michigan. Approval for another trip series is awaiting the results of a bridge audit on the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad. These trips have been in the planning stage for over a year. Our long quest appears to be finally in reach.
Another new program is the publishing of Policy Letters. These are written to specify policies governing events and routine matters which regularly affect Society operations.
One example of the Society’s published policies is the establishment of a Member’s Read File which contains pertinent, current information of interest to Society members. It is readily available in the shop office. Members are encouraged to refer to it any time you visit the shop. It contains a wealth of important information about the day to day operations of the Society. New emphasis on getting our shop environment in order is beginning to show significant progress. Our goal is to have as safe and organized work place as possible.
So what is the end goal of all this change? It is to produce a safe, efficient, and successful Society. All of which will be required to get the 765 out and about and to generate further donations and funding opportunities.
Lastly, and most importantly, the goal is to build a solid future for our Society for which we can all proudly claim credit.