Management

Richard Bertel

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Richard Bertel photoRick Bertel’s roots run deep in the railroad industry. Not only has he a passion for railroading, he has a solid understanding of what it takes to meet the challenges in today’s competitive marketplace. While at Rio Grande Pacific, Rick has been active in the development and preparation of a wide variety of feasibility studies and economic and financial analysis for the rehabilitation, abandonment, acquisition and start-up of short line and regional railroad projects throughout the United States and abroad. He has also been responsible for the generation of engineering proposals and appraisals, cost/benefit analysis, budget estimates and bid documents for projects with Federal and State Funding participation. In addition, Rick maintains a high degree of interaction with engineering personnel, short line and regional operators, public transportation officials, and the financial community. Having served as an oversight consultant to numerous state and federal transportation agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Rick was selected as a project coordinator for a study mandated by the U.S. Congress to evaluate “Infrastructure Needs of Class II & III Railroads” in 1988. This study included the inspection, evaluation and preparation of rehabilitation budget estimates for over 6,000 miles of light density railroads throughout the United States. As well, Rick has been retained by a variety of clients, including venture capital firms and financial institutions, for the purpose of reviewing business and financial plans prior to final funding as well as providing additional due diligence opinions on proposed financial transactions or engineering situations. Prior to founding RGPC in 1986,  Richard helped co-found Trax Engineering & Associates, Inc., and served as president and chief operating officer for a regional railroad track rehabilitation and construction firm operating in Texas, Oklahoma and the southwestern United States. In addition, he has been involved in short line and regional start-ups, turnarounds, and transition management for both public and private railroad owners.

Rick completed his graduate studies with an MBA in Economics and Finance from Texas Christian University.

Robert L. Bach

President

Robert Bach photoRobert Bach grew up in rural Iowa where he learned universal principles that serve as a guide to him today. Work hard. Carry your fair share. Don’t waste daylight. Show respect.

Those same principles served as a guide through his undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa and, after service in the U.S. Army, at the University of Minnesota Law School. He later applied those principles in his long and successful career at the Minneapolis law firm of Felhaber, Larson, Fenlon & Vogt. In his legal career, he developed an extensive expertise in the legal and business issues confronting shortline railroads, including the Rio Grande Pacific family of railroads. This history in the rail industry has provided him with a broad understanding of the role of shortline railroads in commerce and the related advantages this industry provides to its customers. Mr. Bach joined Rio Grande Pacific as its president in 2011. In applying his years of experience, he is helping lead RGPC to fulfill the needs of its customers, to develop opportunities and to meet challenges the company experiences in the marketplace.

Patti Matson

Vice President Administration

Patty Matson photoAs vice president of administration, Patti is responsible for the annual analysis, pricing negotiations as well as placement of all lines of insurance for RGPC and its subsidiaries. These lines include railroad liability, contractors general and professional liability, commercial auto, railroad property, worker’s compensation, major medical, dental, life, and disability. Patti has skillfully managed this insurance portfolio for over twenty years. Patti also manages all contract review and compliance related to agreements with Class I railroads, governmental entities, lending institutions, real estate holdings, leases, and sub-contractor agreements. Her position coordinates the company’s legal representation, and she serves as the corporate DBE liaison as well. In addition, she compiles and publishes the company employee handbook and serves as the corporate human resource manager. Her negotiating savvy has created strong partnerships and long-lasting goodwill.

Scott Traylor

Executive Vice President, Business Development and Industry Affairs

J Scott Traylor photoScott Traylor joined Rio Grande Pacific Corporation in early 1993, bringing considerable years of business acumen and experience from a wide variety of working environments. Educated in the sciences, his analytical approach to business and market development has helped lead Rio Grande Pacific through substantial, yet disciplined growth. Absent the familiar Class I railroad background, he provides a fresh, lean, open perspective in today’s dynamically-evolving rail transportation industry. Utilizing his diverse background, Scott seeks to apply progressive, “outside the box” strategies in helping develop new approaches and insights to business and marketing.Prior to his arrival at Rio Grande Pacific, as co-founder of a multi-faceted construction firm, Scott was responsible for many aspects of the operation including business development, marketing, project analysis, bid review, contract negotiation, and project oversight. He gained much of his contracting knowledge through in-the-field, hands-on experience. After completing an extensive corporate training program, he successfully navigated the management development process and easily advanced to serve as project manager for multiple operating properties where he oversaw sales, marketing, and construction and customer service for an award-winning, rapidly-growing national home building firm.

Michael A. Haeg

Vice President, Marketing and Sales

Michael Haeg photoMike Haeg leads all commercial planning, customer relationships and develops marketing strategies that build on the foundation of RGPC’s extensive rail operations. Mike is no stranger to this role – he has been directly involved with railroad market development and customer relationships since 1986. As we are all involved in a global trading environment for goods and services, Mike pays particular attention to commodity markets (both foreign and domestic) and the effect they have on the short and long term growth goals for RGPC. His knowledge of rail markets and the ability to leverage that knowledge for RGPC and the RGPC customer base produces a tremendous value for RGPC. Mike has been a part of the great transition into a singular global economy, an eyewitness to the mega-impact of energy pricing and policies as well as recent rail mergers that have changed the face of the industry. Mike brings a proven track record and a grasp of how things work in this industry. Mike’s roots to transportation industry did not just begin with railroads. Mike commenced his professional career in the grain trading industry working as an export grain merchant for a Japanese owned grain company headquartered in the United States. Mike enjoyed the thrill of his day to day trading of rail and barge grain. Mike was able to utilize that trading experience as a pathway to enjoying a very successful career in working for the Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha as the chief marketing officer in the Union Pacific’s food grains section.As Class I railroads commenced their branch line rationalization programs in the 80’s and 90’s, Mike saw a unique opportunity to utilize his trading knowledge and Class I railroad marketing and sales expertise to the short line community. Mike began his short line career with KYLE Railways Inc. as their first ever Vice President of Marketing and Sales that encompassed eight railroads, including a tourist train operation in Maui. Mike continued with that specific role with the StatesRail LLC acquisition of KYLE Railways and the eventual acquisition of StatesRail LLC by publicly traded RailAmerica. Mike is a member of numerous rail and shipper groups. In 2001, Mike chaired the first ever binding rail arbitration committee that resolved disputes between railroads and customers. Mike is also a member of the Surface Transportation Board Grain Car Counsel and serves on the Affiliate Executive Board of the Association of American Railroads. Mike is also a member of the Union Pacific Railroad’s Short Line Advisory Group. Mike holds a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University  and a Masters of International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management.

Mitch Harris

Director of Safety, Training and Regulatory Compliance

Mitch Harris photoA third generation railroader, Mitch began his career with the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1978 and entered the short line industry in 1993 where he soon became deeply involved in the area of safety and compliance.

Mitch has been instrumental in the development, implementation and management of safety related policies and programs for RGPC, including: Regulatory Compliance, Rules Compliance and Discipline, Training and Continuing Education, Locomotive Engineer and Conductor Certification, Federal Reporting and Internal Control, Operational Testing and Monitoring, Hiring, Medical and Functional Testing Standards and Drug and Alcohol Testing and Employee Assistance. Mitch is committed to providing leadership for the continuous improvement of safety practices and culture at RGPC and the entire short line and regional railroad industry. He serves as vice-chairman to the ASLRRA Safety & Training Committee and played a key role in the development of the newly formed Short Line Safety Institute to which he now serves on the board of advisers. Mitch also serves as the company’s primary liaison to the FRA and is an active member of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee.

Chris Bertel

Vice President, Finance

Chris Bertel photoChris Bertel’s railroad experience dates back to an earlier age as his opportunities working for a family business took him through the many facets of the business. These different operational areas of the business helped to guide Chris’ understanding of the rail industry and the collaborative efforts involved in operating a railroad. As Vice President of Finance, Chris’ role ensures financial planning and forecasting, examine both short term and long term liquidity needs, analyzing potential target acquisitions or new business ventures, collaborating with Marketing and Sales and Business Development on pricing strategies for new business, assisting in capital planning and development, compliance reporting for Senior Lenders and reviewing capital markets and economic trends. Chris’ experience in the rail business has helped him worked collaboratively with the managers to identify and communicate business trends, develop/measure key metrics and other analytics to monitor the business, and track progress against short-term and long-term objectives of the company. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Stephen F. Austin State University and an MBA from the University of North Texas.

Brent M. Burns

Senior Finance Executive

Brent Burns photoAs a business finance and information systems consultant and former treasurer with an MBA in finance, Brent Burns has a proven track record within growth-oriented and multinational organizations. As Rio Grande Pacific’s Controller, Brent brings his strength in leadership, enforcing the highest level of business ethics while providing value-added innovations and solutions to the current, ever-changing industry climate. As Controller/Principal Accounting Officer, Brent ensures strategic business controls, creates monthly financial reporting and analysis, performs debt management and compliance reporting, determines treasury management service requirements, and develops information systems re-engineering to allow for in-house consolidation reporting. Prior to joining Rio Grande Pacific, Brent was a corporate financial consultant specializing in management and information systems. His skills include merger and acquisition expertise as well as organizational design and business control evaluations, and treasury management services. He was also acting treasurer of an international freight forwarding, customs brokerage and transportation logistics service. In short, Brent not only keeps his finger on the pulse of the railroad industry, but also keeps pace with the challenging financial markets of the new economy.