I think in today's railroading environment, everyone has a price. Years and years of "Not interested" replies from an owner can easily be changed when the THUD of the pile of money on the desk exceeds that which he has heard so many times before.
There is not a single regional or shortline I would really consider safe. The conglomerates are beating the streets, looking for acquisitions. The Marcellus Shale drilling is exploding traffic for a number of shortlines in the Northeast, and even several states away for other railroads sourcing frac sand and drilling supplies. To think a large player with a boatload of money isn't lurking around some of the lines up there is naive.
The current mantra of some owners may be "I'll never sell," but they also don't have a crystal ball in front of them, either. Sudden death of an owner or principal, divorce, personal financial troubles, illness, you name it, can all change a smaller company's prospects in an instant.
I thought some of you may find this explanation from Bill Gardner, the President of the WSOR, interesting.
"From the President desk:
Well the news is out. You have to remember that over the past years I have been courted by many other organizations that have an interest in acquiring the WSOR. Unfortunately for them I was not comfortable with what I heard or the direction they wanted to take the WSOR in. Watco came to me by accident after Omnitrax failed in making me believe that they were the chosen one. Omnitrax doubled their sale price in less than 60 days. Just never felt comfortable with them…….
Rick Webb (President) and I have spent many days together and I came away that we were both from the same cloth and had the same ideals. Rick's parents started their business from their kitchen table just like my parents started Gardner Bender from the kitchen table with a Corolla typewriter and a $1000.00 Sharp first generation calculator…..
Rick and I are going to work together and plan on taking the WSOR to the next level of expanding its rail operation in the State of Wisconsin, so plan on seeing a full court press on expanding WSOR's foot print in the State of Wisconsin.
As for me I will continue to do the same and work hard on expanding the WSOR………
So let's look at the positive side and move forward. I guess someone can always take pot shots and find something negative in anything these days…….
Maybe you should ask yourself "where would the WSOR be today if Bill Gardner hadn't come along"????????????
Have a great day and be safe.
Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Company"