Loup U's Robust Training Program Takes New Hires to Council Bluffs Intermodal Ramp

Released June 22, 2023

My name is Jeff Richardson, and I am a Loup Solutionist. My 19-year career with Union Pacific and its subsidiaries has provided me with very broad industry experience. I have had 12 different jobs including roles in Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Logistics Operations, Equipment, and my current role in Carrier Relations at Loup. All these jobs have one thing in common – they are primarily performed sitting at a desk, through email, spreadsheets, web applications, etc. One thing I learned early in my career is the value of seeing your work firsthand – an in person, boots on the ground view of what you see on your computer screens daily. Throughout my career, I have taken every possible opportunity to travel to the field and see the rails, the cars and containers, the warehouses, even our customers’ offices. These trips have taken me to 12 intermodal ramps, 8 manifest yards, and countless customer facilities.

I take pride in being able to teach those around me things I have learned over my career. One way I do this is by providing tours of the Council Bluffs Intermodal Terminal to co-workers, and most recently to new hires as part of the Loup University (Loup U) onboarding and training program. These tours provide employees with that in-person look at the work they will typically only see on the computer screen.

While the Council Bluffs terminal is one of the smallest on the Union Pacific network, it is only a 15-minute drive from UP Center and a tour takes less than two hours, including drive time. During the tour, we walk around some of our 53’ EMP and UMAX containers on chassis – the equipment Loup employees are talking to customers and carriers about daily. I go over the general identification of the containers and chassis, all the moving parts of the units, and typical problems and repairs that may be needed. Some of the employees like to get even more hands on by activating twist-locks, chassis pins, or opening and closing container doors. After discussing the equipment, I take the tour inside the ramp and explain gate operations, hostler and train loading equipment, articulated well cars, and train loading procedures. Intermodal shipping can be a complex topic and one that is certainly hard to conceptualize. By giving these tours, I provide a tangible and concrete understanding of our business to service representatives that are responsible for bringing first-class solutions and problem resolution to our customers.

Loup new hires and interns are the future of our business, and it is important that we prepare them for success. Combining the in-person ramp tour with classroom and on-the-job training provides these new employees with the knowledge and skills needed to begin their journey at Loup. Ultimately, if I can enable them to be successful in their role, I can then promote happy customers that are satisfied with our service products.

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