Janesville66.1°

Wisconsin rail company sells controlling ownership

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Gazette staff
November 30, 2011
— Kansas-based Watco Transportation Services announced Tuesday it will purchase controlling ownership of the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., allowing the Milwaukee-based business to expand throughout the Midwest.

Wisconsin & Southern has a yard near Five Points in Janesville.


The acquisition helps Wisconsin & Southern reach new markets and cost-effective routings for Wisconsin businesses, according to a news release. The agreement allows the Wisconsin company to keep its existing corporate structure and operations while maintaining its headquarters in Milwaukee.


All operating and grant agreements with state and local governments will remain in effect, according to the news release.


“Our state’s future prosperity depends on an efficient and well-maintained rail system with access to a multitude of markets for Wisconsin’s own raw materials and finished products,” said William Gardner, president at Wisconsin & Southern.


“Together, Watco Companies and the WSOR will play a vital role in meeting the growing needs of our customers and communities that rely upon rail as their primary means of transportation.”


Watco Companies, based in Pittsburg, Kan., operates more than 3,700 miles of track in 26 states, according to its website. It’s the largest privately-held short line railroad in the nation.


Wisconsin & Southern’s operations include 600 miles of track throughout southcentral Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. It has terminal offices in Janesville, Madison and Horicon, employing about 250 people.


Watco Companies filed a change of control notice Tuesday with the Surface Transportation Board. It’s expected to become effective by the end of the year, and Jan. 1 is the projected transaction date.



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