COVID-19 has Dallas company rethinking things: ‘We haven’t missed a beat
By Evan Hoopfer – Staff Writer, Dallas Business Journal
Paul Treangen has been thinking about how his company will be different on the other side of COVID-19. Treangen is CEO of Dallas- based TNW Corp., which owns and operates three shortline railroads and three logistics terminals.
“When I’m looking at all the travel and different expenses that our company had in place before with our offices and I see how well we’re doing right now, we haven’t missed a beat,” Treangen said. “I think we’re taking strong note of what’s working and there’s no reason to go back to ‘what was’ in some of our areas.”
Specifically, the remote working environment will be “interesting to explore” for certain employees, Treangen said. “I do believe that there’s going to be opportunities for companies that come out of this,” Treangen said. “I’m hoping our business will be able to grow and we’ll expand partnerships. A year from now, I’d like to see our business be more efficient.” So far, TNW Corp. has conducted no furloughs or layoffs of its 110 employees. Treangen discussed why he’s loathe to shed employees in this climate and more in this conversation with the Dallas Business Journal.
Where have you seen volume decrease? The biggest impact we’ve seen has been on the energy business. We have a pretty diverse cross section of customers and industries on our various lines. But the energy industry is important to Texas, and we’re certainly engaged with that. We move frack sand and products like that for our customers. As you’ve seen with the oil fluctuations and crash in price, they turn that industry off pretty quickly. We’ve seen decreases in in that area. How large is that railcar storage facility? It’s pretty close to 11,000 cars.
You said you haven’t conducted furloughs or layoffs. How much longer can that be the case if volumes don’t pick back up? I don’t have a time frame. Right now, we’re starting to see some of our business lines pick back up already. I’m hopeful that we won’t have to do anything like that. But frankly, we’re going to look where we can cut other expenses. In terms of our people, that’s the last place we’ll go. We’ll look for everything we can before we go there. Our employees are our most important asset. And when I look at the cost associated with hiring and training, it doesn’t make sense to me to look at them as expendable
What’s your outlook for the next few months? You said some of your customers are picking back up?Yes. Most of them are sounding like they’re going to start ramping back up. We just don’t know when that will happen because we don’t know what’s going to happen with the virus and opening back up.
You mentioned oil and gas, have other products you ship seen declines, too? I think all of them have seen some dips. We serve shippers in petroleum, aggregate, agriculture, animal feed products and things like that. I think all of them have seen their ups and downs through this, but none as profound as energy.
Rail is no stranger to ups and downs. How does this decline compare to others you’ve seen in your career? The circumstances are very different. In my 30-plus years, I’ve been through fires, floods, strikes and economic downturns. I don’t know that it’s been anything significant from the standpoint of the business being so unique and the changes. It’s all of the uncertainty that surrounds it and seeing the widespread impact it’s had on our society. But, in terms of our business and how we’ve been able to respond to it, I think it’s not that different. This interview is edited for length and clarity.