May 16, 2019
As we continue making progress on our Meridian facility expansion, we spoke to Brett Dabbs, the site’s operations manager, about his start at CF Rail Services and the construction that’s underway.
As fate would have it, Brett started his career in railcar repair in 2001 at what is today our Meridian site when it was operated by a different owner. He left in 2007 but returned four years later when it was owned by CF Rail Services. “I started out as an inspector, then I managed our Columbus, MS, shop, then managed all the field shops,” Brett said. “Currently, I manage all the day-to-day operations at the Meridian shop, where our top priorities are the safety of everyone at our site and providing a high level of service and transparency to our customers.”
Safety, along with quality and environment, form the three pillars of our Zero Today culture. “It’s how everyone here and throughout our network does things,” Brett said. “In working towards Zero Today, the biggest tool we have is the participation from our people. That is key. Zero Today means the same thing to everyone here – we live and breathe it. If you can do something right one time, you can replicate it. Task-by-task. Day-by-day. That’s how we’ve created our culture and the results speak for themselves.”
When discussing our Meridian facility, Brett usually begins and ends his sentences by talking about his team. That reflects the approach of everyone throughout the CF Rail Services network of putting team first. Under Brett’s leadership, the Meridian team’s commitment to Zero Today continues to produce a consistently high level of quality repairs that is being noticed throughout the industry. Completing the Meridian expansion, which includes construction of a new, state-of-the-art, 60,000 square-foot finishing work center, will enhance our team’s ability to serve even more customers.
“The Meridian team is very excited about the expansion,” Brett said. “Everyone knows we are getting modern, new equipment but we have been really busy during the first part of the year so there hasn’t been much idle time to really soak in what is coming. In the meantime, we are juggling our schedules and working some different shifts to allow for both production and construction to take place simultaneously.”
Despite several weather-related delays, a new cleaning rack is now in production and the demolition of all tracks and structures in the footprint of the main building have been completed. A new carbon black cleaning facility is now under construction. “This was a late add to the project and really increases our capacity, helping us better serve all of our customers—not just those who are in the carbon black industry.” Brett said. “I am really proud of this addition.”
There’s another aspect to the Meridian expansion that everyone at CF Rail Services and Sasser Family Companies, its parent organization, takes great pride in. “I think the expansion is great for CF Rail Services, but also great for the Meridian area and all of the Lauderdale County community,” Brett said. “CFRS is already well thought of in the community and new positions here are sought after pretty heavily. I think the news of our expansion project brings even more excitement to the area. Just hearing that a company that isn’t based here is investing in a local facility draws even more positive attention to our organization, and job applications have gone up significantly over the past few months. After our ground breaking ceremony earlier this year, local business leaders and area officials began reaching out with words of encouragement and appreciation. To be a part of the community and feel people getting excited about what we have in the works here is special to me.”