Tuesday, September 07, 2021

After graduating high school, Rick Corman rented a backhoe and dump truck, developed a revolutionary method of unloading ties, thereby saving time and reducing injury to railroad employees. Then he built his backhoe business into a multimillion-dollar railroad and construction company

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In 1983, R. J. Corman Derailment Services was founded and opened its first division in Columbus, Ohio.

The seeds for the growth of the Corman empire were planted in 1984, when Congress began deregulating the railroad industry with what is known as the Staggers Act. Larger railroads began to get rid of small stretches of unprofitable rail line. They also began to farm out maintenance, construction, derailment cleanups and other jobs they found too costly to specialized and often non-union organizations like Mr. Corman's.

His first acquisition as a railroad owner was a 20-mile short line he bought in 1987 in the Bardstown KY area from the old L&N Railroad. On that stretch, he started My Old Kentucky Dinner Train in 1988. Using a rail car that was part of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1969 funeral cortege, the dinner train still takes excursions through the rolling countryside north of Bardstown as diners feast on entrees such as prime rib or barbecued scallops.

Within 20 years, he developed several companies into what is today one of the nation’s leading railroad service providers.

 From 1997 to 2000, eight more Derailment Services divisions were opened and they begin serving as Conrail's full-service track and rail material distributor. Aircraft Maintenance was launched. 

The Nicholasville-based company that became one of only two major companies offering 24-hour emergency derailment cleanup for railways.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, R.J. Corman Railroad Group restored 40 miles of CSX track in Mississippi and Louisiana and rebuilt seven CSX bridges. The company also participated in the cleanup and reconstruction of CSX's Gentilly railroad yard in New Orleans.

The company's "storm team" also fixed railroads damaged by other hurricanes, floods, and blizzards from Texas to Vermont.

Fortune Magazine released a feature story on Rick Corman, an American classic self-made success, in 2011  (blocked by a paywall) 

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