The contract will enable the railway to pursue new business on a national level

by: JASON CHANEY - After upgrading its facilities to include a state-of-the-art freight depot, the City of Prineville Railway is hoping to attract nationally-based business with the help of a new marketing contract.

As City of Prineville Railway (COPR) staff built new state-of-the-art facilities to boost rail business, they had big plans in mind for the future.

They knew they would eventually exhaust regional business opportunities and would have to cast a wider net to attract the level of business their facility was built to support.

They took a significant step in that direction recently with the Prineville City Council approving a marketing contract with Arizona-based ARG Transportation. Under the contract, COPR and ARG will each pay Tom Fuller, who has 47 years in the rail industry, to market their railways.

“We are essentially splitting the cost of the marketer,” explained COPR Operations Manager Matt Wiederholt. “Neither side is really big enough to put on a full-time marketer of his stature, so by splitting it, we both get to save money.”

COPR will pay for his commute time and lodging, Wiederholt explained, but most of the compensation will come from the 15 percent commission he receives from the business he generates for the local railway.

“He is going to get out of it what he puts in.”

Dale Keller, COPR business development manager, believes Fuller is the right fit for their needs. They sought someone who possessed contacts deep within the rail industry.

“A guy who can go to Omaha and talk to the Union Pacific and get on the front end of a big company getting ready to relocate,” he added. “A lot of this relocation of industry doesn’t come from anything other than somebody being ‘Johnny on the Spot,’ being able to present the best package and bring them in.”

Keller believes Fuller has the tools to possibly land the next local distribution center or manufacturer.

“He’s the guy who knows the people who can make that happen,” he said. “His track record is exemplary.”

Wiederholt noted that Fuller took over a shortline railway in Aberdeen, Wash., and more than doubled its $2.2 million income in five years.

“He won the Shortline Marketer of the Year, which is a pretty prestigious accolade,” he said.

The contract not only provides COPR a marketer with national reach, the railway can now utilize ARG staff for training and other critical needs.

“When you are looking at a three-man railroad with an old gray-headed guy who kind of does a little of this and that, we need those assets,” Keller said of the partnership. “They have the people who can train and certify. They have assets that allow us to get our bridge inspections done, assets to help us with switching signals, that kind of stuff if we need it.”

The contract is effective for one year, with a six-month review. Once the contract ends, the railway will retain whatever business Fuller generates.

“The city was very careful in not getting stuck with a five or 10-year payment plan because of this one year of marketing,” Wiederholt said.

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