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Conference location:  The Westin Portland Harborview - 157 High St, Portland, ME
Register for inPerson and Virtual onDemand
The Agenda:
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Latest Agenda:

September 22nd-24th, 2021

The Changing Face of the North American Rail Network


07:30 – Golf Outing - Hosted by Curry Rail Services & Shale Rail
Nonesuch River Golf Club
304 Gorham Road, Scarborough, ME 04074

09:00 – Golf Outing – Shotgun start time

15:00 – Registration Opens at the Westin Portland Harborview 

17:30 – The Joseph & Eileen Gearin Networking Reception

19:00 – Dinner On Your Own in Fabulous Portland Maine


07:00 – Breakfast Starts (Available until 08:15)

08:00 – Welcome to NEARS, Safety Briefing and Housekeeping
Dennis Wilmot, President & CEO, Iron Horse Logistics Group
John Meyers, Secretary, NARS

08:15 – Great Expectations from the Class 1 Railroads
Kenny Rocker – EVP Marketing & Sales, UP Railroad

09:15 – The Latest in Rail Safety – Operation Lifesaver
Norma Griffiths, Railroad Safety Inspector, FRA
Michail Grizkewitsch, Railroad Trespass Specialist, FRA
Jo Strang, Senior VP Safety & Regulation, ASLRRA

10:30 – Are we ready for the new North American Rail Network?
Martin J. Oberman, Chairman, Surface Transportation Board

 11:15 – Pan Am & CSX Merger Update
Kevin Boone, EVP Sales & Marketing, CSX

NOON – NEARS Networking Lunch and Vendor Fair

13:30 –  NEARS Awards/Presentation

14:30 –  How do we optimize our North American Rail Supply Chain?
Corrie Banks, General Manager, Cando Rail Services

15:30 -  How do we make sense of our rail situation?
Todd Tranausky, Vice President, Rail & Intermodal, FTR

17:30 – The Joseph & Eileen Gearin Networking Reception

19:00 – Dinner On Your Own In Fabulous Portland Maine


07:00 – Special Networking Breakfast Starts (Available Until 08:15)

08:00 – The Journalists of Rail – Big Steel Wheels & Big Topics
William Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief, Railway Age
Jim Blaze, Contributing Editor, Railway Age
Joshua Davidson, Publisher, Rails & Ports

09:00 – Class 1 Perspectives from Both Sides of the Northern Border
Steve Nettleton, General Manager, CP Rail (Ret)

10:00 – A new rail era, or the same era in a different container?
            AKA – The Tony and Jason Show
Tony Hatch, Principal, ABH Consulting
Jason Seidl, Managing Director, Cowen & Company

11:30 – Closing Remarks and William J. Donovan Memorial Drawing

Alternate Hotels

It's a busy time in Portland, so getting around is something to think about.  

The hotel is right next to a large parking garage, so parking should be ample.  We are not sure if Valet parking will be available when you arrive, so be prepared either way.

Portland is a very walkable city, and there is a lot very close to the Westin Portland Harborview (Conference Hotel) as we will be in the heart of the city.  

The hotel does have one shuttle.   If it is available, it will run down to the Old Port area.  Please arrange with the Hotel front desk for times and service.

If you need transportation around the city or to and from the airport, you might want to consider a transportation service.  It might reduce your wait time and you might save a little bit of money.

Here are two to consider:



Portland also has Uber and Lyft available.

Why nears?
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In the past 6 months, I’ve used my NEARS connections to:

§  Do reference checks on a new TMS with folks who actually use the software

§  Find a location to stage railcars near a customer to reduce our lead times and better manage inventories

§  Facilitate a transload operation

§  Ask dozens of questions on railcar maintenance, repair, and design

§  Find a specialty provider for cleaning and refitting of tank cars

§  Collect estimated costs to support multiple logistics feasibility studies

§  Help me train my employees into new roles

§  Recruit new team members

§  Locate railcar capacity for short term logistical support

At the last conference, I met:

§  4 of my Railroad Account Managers and their Directors

§  Director and VP level executives from multiple leasing companies

§  2 Investment Analysts who provide insight into the transportation industry as a whole

§  20 new peers (shippers who manage rail for their companies)

§  2 Transportation Software providers, who provide services that I am in the market for

§  2 government officials that act as consumer advocates or shipper resources

As a result of my attendance, I got:

§  Updates on the rail market place from all the speakers and contacts I made

§  Access to a full list of attendees to be able to network with them in the future

§  Access to the presentations of the speakers and permission to contact them regarding the content that I used in

   business presentations

Past Attendees
Become a Member!

There are many organizations to choose from, so why choose NEARS?

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View our on demand content.  Both Video on Demand and Podcasts/


We have awarded over $100k to students from all over the United States, one of the many benefits of being a NEARS member.


Honoring those who serve our industry, the NEARS Hall of Fame and Transportation Person of the Year are awarded annually.


Our conferences offer plenty of networking opportunities. View Past Attendees!

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Our Board of directors

Our BOD represents all aspects of the shipping community.  As we are a shippers organization, our bylaws restrict railroad employees from becoming officers.

Dennis Wilmot


Iron Horse Logistics

Erica Breiterman

1st Vice President

Rail Safe Training

Brian Smalley

2nd Vice President

National Steel Car

Scott McCalla

NEARS Executive Director

Board of Directors
Past Presidents

2018 – Present                                   Jason Seidl

·       2016 - 2017                                              Don Cameron

·       2014 - 2015                                              John Meyers

·       2012 - 2013                                              Scott McCalla

·       2010 - 2011                                              Dana Burleigh

·       2008 - 2009                                              Tammy Baker-Silver

·       2006 - 2007                                              Gerald Racette

·       2004 - 2005                                              Diane El-Hakim

·       2002 - 2003                                              Michael Cella

·       2000 - 2001                                              Kathy Dalrymple

·       1998 - 1999                                              Paula Mehan

·       1996 - 1997                                              Michael Calabucci

·       1994 - 1995                                              Joe Gearin

·       1992 – 1993                                             Brenda Horne

·       1990 - 1991                                              Joe Gearin

·       1988 - 1989                                              Kenneth Enzor

·       1986 – 1987                                             Ruth Gale

·       1984 – 1985                                             Kenneth Enzor

·       1982 – 1983                                             Ken Bowers

·       1980 – 1981                                             Gene Bernard

Past Executive Directors

2017 – Present                                       Scott McCalla

·       2004 – 2016                                             Joe Gearin

·       1986 – 2003                                             William Donovan

·       1980 – 1985                                             John Morton