Industries

Interview with Charles W. “Wick” Moorman (full transcript)

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Virginia Business: Tell me about the painting of the train behind your chair.
Moorman: That was done by our former vice president of strategic planning, Jim McClellan, CHECK who is a fairly accomplished railway artist.  He’s now retired, and he does train paintings.  That was one of his Christmas cards … Somehow or another, I convinced him that it should be in my office.  And it was in my other office actually before I had this job, but he was very careful to point out to me that it is in fact on loan.  It’s not my painting.

VB: What era would that train be from?
Moorman: Those engines were probably built in the teens or the 1920s and died out in the late ‘40s.  That picture would be the ‘30s or ‘40s, somewhere in that vintage.  That locomotive — now that you’ve gotten me started on this — that class of locomotive was called a PS4, Pacific-type steam locomotive. There is one preserved, the 1401, and it’s in the Smithsonian Museum.  If you ever go to the Smithsonian, there’s a big steam locomotive in it, and it’s one of that class. It’s a beautiful locomotive.  And it was actually one of the locomotives that were used to haul FDR’s funeral train from Warm Springs back to D.C .on the Southern. 

…While we’re talking art, that picture behind you was done by a guy name Griff Teller, and we got it as part of the Conrail transaction.  That was painted for the Pennsylvania Railroad, which we now own part of, and it was one of the calendars.  The Pennsylvania for years had a calendar every year, and Griff Teller painted the calendar picture. As you walk through the door on the way out, if you look on your left, there’s an original, of the 1947-1948 Pennsylvania Railroad calendar, and that was the picture for the painting.  So that’s the art history of my office.

VB: I know you get this question all the time, but did you develop an interest early on in railroads?
Moorman: I was a kid who loved trains.

VB:  Did you have a Lionel set?
Moorman: I did.  I had it all.  My story is, it’s apocryphal so don’t use it, but I always tell people that my mother dropped me when I was about two, and I landed on my head.  And when she picked me up, the only noticeable difference is I loved trains.  So I am the most fortunate of individuals to have this job.  I mean just to work for the company was a great, good fortune.  Then to end up with this job is just kind of like … hard to ask for anything more.

VB: Did you live near a train track?
Moorman: Not particularly.  It’s very interesting, in the rail fan community, there are those people who can say, ‘Well I always loved trains because my grandfather worked for the railroad, or something happened here or something happened there.  I have no idea what happened.  It was just, as I say, a blow to the head.

VB: So no other family figures worked for the railroad?
Moorman: My grandfather worked briefly as a surveyor for the railroad.  He died a long time ago.  But that didn’t have anything to do with this.

VB: What was your favorite train as a young person?
Moorman: Well I grew up in a small town in Mississippi called Hattiesburg where the University of Southern Mississippi is.  And it was the Southern Railway Division headquarters.  The Southern came through there, and the Illinois Central came through there, and there was another little railroad, gone now, called the Mississippi Central.  But I was a Southern Railway person from a very early age. That’s who I started work with.  I started to work for them when I went to engineering school as a co-op student.

VB: And you’ve been with them ever since, right?
Moorman: I’m as old as dirt.

VB: Forty years, right?
Moorman: Well with interrupted service, but yes. 

VB: Let’s talk about performance.  Compared to 2009 when traffic volumes were down, 2010 is going well.
Moorman: Yes.

VB:   In the second quarter, Norfolk Southern had one of the best performances in the railroad industry.  Can the company sustain this momentum for the rest of the year?  And what do you see as your biggest growth markets?
Moorman: Let me say we feel reasonably confident about the rest of the year.  Our company is … let me back up and you can take whatever notes you want.  When you think about the railroad business, one of the ways that makes sense to think about it is that we are a lot of different businesses on a common technology.  In that sense, we’re kind of the 19th Century or an earlier version of the Internet in thinking about this common infrastructure that serves a lot of purposes. 

If you look across our range of businesses from say coal to intermodal, chemicals, agriculture, paper, whatever, we see a lot of the economy.  And we are not completely, but are largely tied, to how well the economy does.  The reason we saw the ’09 downturn was clearly because the U.S. economy went into the tank.  We have enjoyed at least partial resurgence of the economy.  So everything I would say is predicated on at least slow but sustained economic growth. 

If, in fact, that’s what we see, 2010 will continue to be a good year for us.  The comps get harder because our business really improved in the second half of last year.  If you kind of think about what’s strong right now, all of the businesses have revived to some extent.  Clearly the weakest is still anything to do with housing, paper and forest products… 

Two businesses that have not rebounded in a big way are international containers — the containers, for example, that we get here at the Port of Norfolk and carry to the Midwest.  That business really went down last year and has only modestly revived.  That’s a reflection of the retail economy because those are primarily retail goods. 

Our utility coal business, the steam coal business is getting better, but is not back to levels of 2008, which was a record year for us.  On the other hand, there are some businesses that are very strong for us.  Our so-called domestic intermodal business, which is the conversion of truck load traffic to the rails, in the second quarter was up 32 percent over the year and didn’t decline in 2009.  It was flat with 2008. That continues to be a very strong business for us. 

Our metallurgical coal franchise isn’t that big, but it’s important here because it’s the coal that goes out through the Port of Norfolk to make steel overseas.  That has continued to be good for us over the past 9-12 months.  And the domestic metallurgical coal for domestic steel makers is good.

Ethanol is a big, growing business for us.  There are some other commodities that are strong as well.  Our steel business is much better than it was.  Although in general, if you look at our 2009 … our 2009 second quarter was 26 percent down, which was just unheard of, almost incomprehensible, that our business could go that far south. 

Our second quarter 2010 versus ’09 is up 22 percent. But if you do the math, it’s still down about 10 percent from 2008.  So while we’re back and results are good, our volumes still aren’t anything like they were two to three years ago.

Virginia Business: Aren’t you getting ready to open a new intermodal facility in Charlotte?
Moorman: We’re probably a couple of years away, but we have a big intermodal facility under construction in Charlotte.  It’s going to be an important driver of growth in that area for us, and it’s going to be really good for the city of Charlotte, too. It’s an interesting facility because it’s going to be between two runways at the Charlotte Airport.

VB: I was reading about that.  It sounds exciting.
Moorman: Yes. Watch the planes. I think it’s about 18 feet below the grade level of the runway, so it’s kind of down in the hole.  We have taxiways that go over it, which will be interesting.  But it’s a good place, and it’s a good place in terms of access to the interstates and all of the things that are important for locating a terminal like that.

VB: Has there been any progress with the proposed intermodal facility in Elliston here in Virginia?
Moorman: It’s in the courts right now.  We and the state and everyone else are waiting on whatever the courts decide. 

VB: What’s your take on the recent acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad? Do you think there will be more mergers and acquisitions in the industry? 
Moorman: It’s a tremendous vote of confidence in the railroad industry when the leading investor in the country, if not the world, makes a huge bet, his biggest, single bet, on buying a railroad.  That argues that our industry is very strong, and its best days are ahead. We all believe that for a number of reasons.

I think it was a unique set of circumstances.  I don’t think that it portends any other M&A activity any time in the near future or foreseeable future.  There are a lot of reasons why that’s the case that have to do with the regulatory environment and the political environment.  But I don’t foresee anything else happening any time soon in the way of a big railroad merger.  And I certainly don’t foresee that we’d be a target in an acquisition like that.

The thing about Berkshire buying BNSF is it was absolutely clean from a regulatory standpoint because there were no other railroads involved.  And, in fact, Mr. Buffet owned a little of our stock, and he owns some UP [Union Pacific] stock as well.  And he sold them both to do the deal … I hated that he sold it.  I always kind took it as a little point of pride that Berkshire had some money in us … He bought a little of all of us.  He clearly, I mean he told me this, for various reasons which you can debate, but he likes the Western franchises more than the Eastern franchises.  And I think he liked the BNSF management team, so that’s what he decided to do.  He owned 20 percent before he bought it.  That was his big holding.

VB: How important was September’s opening of the Heartland Corridor?
Moorman: It’s a big deal.  It is important.  The first thing to emphasize is that it has been a huge project, and a big engineering challenge.  It has taken us approximately three years of construction time. Any time you go in and start chewing the tops out of tunnels, you’ve got to be very careful and know exactly what you’re doing.  And it has been a well-executed project.  It’s coming in on time.  When it’s completed, it’s going to make a significant difference to our company and to the Port of Hampton Roads, and to the Midwest, and the distribution centers and customers in the Midwest.  It’s going to be a much more efficient route to take goods from what is one of the premier East Coast ports into the middle of the country.

Now, it’s clearly being completed in a different set of economic circumstances than it began.  And as I mentioned earlier, international imports are down.  But nonetheless, we expect that over a period of time it’s going to be a very, very important thing for both our company and for the State and the port.

VB: Is there any estimate or projections on how much new revenue or volume it could eventually bring to Norfolk Southern?
Moorman: You know we have some projections which we don’t reveal.  Clearly, as I say, the projections look different now than they did three years ago.  But we expect business growth out of it because it’s going to make the Port of Hampton Roads that much more competitive. Having said that, we serve all the East Coast ports … and we have a great franchise in serving those ports.  We work with every port that we serve to make sure that they’re competitive.

VB: Could the project have gotten done without a private/public partnership? 
Moorman: You know it’s not clear to me that it would have in anything like the timeframe that we’ve done it.  Quite frankly when we put the project together and we looked at it, we couldn’t make the numbers work.  We could certainly see that there are savings to our company in terms of moving the trains faster.  We can certainly project additional business growth on top of the business we’re handling today.  But in and of itself, that did not create adequate returns to justify what has been a very expensive and time-consuming project.  Might we have done it at some point in the future as business grew, who knows.  But it wasn’t going to happen quickly unless it was a public/private partnership. 

One of the things that we are constantly saying in the public policy arena is that Norfolk Southern is more than willing to invest its own money any place where we think there’s an adequate return.  And we do.  We spend an enormous amount of capital every year on things like the Charlotte Intermodal Terminal for example.  But there are these projects where we think that … where we know that we cannot justify them in and of themselves.  But we also know that there are really significant public benefits involved.  And that’s the sweet spot where you can clearly articulate public benefit to the State or to the country, and what those benefits are, and then use that benefit to help justify an investment in a project in which we’re also going to invest a lot of money.  We’ll invest up to the point where we have an adequate return.  And then if it makes enough sense from a public benefit to then generate enough public money to do the entire project, that’s a great outcome, because that truly is a public/private partnership.

VB: How are things are going on the Crescent Corridor, another PPA expansion project that will be coming through Virginia?
Moorman: The Crescent Corridor is a much bigger project.  It’s all the way from the southwest, Louisiana to New Jersey.  Yes, and if we ever reached into Texas, one of the mottos we had was “from Austin to Boston.” 

VB: Isn’t it a 2,500-mile route?
Moorman: Yes, and its order of magnitude — to really do a huge first phase — you’re talking $2 to $2.5 billion.  But it’s going well. We’re making investments in the route.  We were fortunate enough to receive a substantial block of money through what’s called the Tiger Grant [the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery] process that will help us build what are really two of the anchor terminals, intermodal terminals for the route in Memphis and Birmingham. 

When you look at what Crescent Corridor is all about, it’s really three things that take money.  First are intermodal terminals, bit parking lots with cranes and tracks where you can move containers on and off.  The second is increased capacity along the railroad in terms of sidings … sometimes new signaling and things like that.  And then the third is cars and locomotives.

We’ve continued to invest as has the State of Virginia in some improvements in capacity.  We have the Tiger Grants for the two new terminals.  We’re going to be building a new terminal in Greencastle, Pennsylvania.  The Elliston terminal will be on the Heartland Corridor.  The Charlotte terminal will play a part in it as well. 

So slowly but surely the pieces are coming together.  There’s still a lot of investment that’s required. [In Northern Virginia] with the help of the state and with NS money, we just did a very significant project at a place called Riverton Junction, which involved a line change and a substantial upgrade of the speed.  We actually put a new bridge span in, and it was a wonderful project.  It will significantly enhance the capacity of that piece of the railroad.  That was another great public/private project as well.

VB: Where is this in Northern Virginia?
Moorman:  It’s right outside of Front Royal.

VB: What about the I-81 corridor?  Is it part of the Crescent Corridor?
Moorman: I-81 is, if you look at the traffic flows we’re talking about for the Crescent Corridor, I-81 is right in the middle.  It all funnels into I-81.  So the original concept has always been trucks off of I-81 and its feeder interstates, 40 or whatever way you want to go up North. 

One of the reasons we had such a great working relationship with the state is we have already started to add some train capacity in there. We are going to get some trucks off the highway with the work we’ve done.  And, interestingly enough, if you look at our route from Louisiana to New Jersey or New England, the first initial choke point, the biggest choke point in the route is some stuff in the state of Virginia, up in the Manassas/Front Royal area.  So we have worked together to address those choke points, and that in and of itself is a big help.

VB: In terms relief, is there a timetable when people can expect a reduction in traffic on I-81?
Moorman: It’s really a question of the funding and construction.  Once we get these new terminals open, we’ll turn on some more train service.  That will take a few more trucks off the highway.  But it’s going to be incremental as the investment is made and we turn on more trains.

VB: So, this is long term? 
Moorman: It’s long term in the sense of funding.  If there were a funding mechanism available to come up with all the money, we could do it in a three- or four-year timetable.  One of the great things about this project is it’s much easier to accomplish these kinds of capacity expansions on the railroad than on the highway.  For example you look at the public/private partnership that was proposed for I-81, and that was … by the time it collapsed, it was an $11 or $12 million price tag, and it was going to take 20 years.  We’re talking about $2 or $3 billion … about 20 percent of that number or less, and we’re talking about the constraint being the money, not all of the other construction or permitting or environmental issues that go along with improving the highway system.

VB: How much is Norfolk Southern investing in this project?
Moorman: Well it will depend on the particular site.  Our match is general anywhere from 20 to 50 percent.  Overall on the big project, it will be substantial.

VB:  I’d like to switch gears now and talk about passenger rail.
Moorman: Oh boy.

VB:  Will Norfolk Southern or other major railroads return to moving large numbers of passengers again?  Just how involved does Norfolk Southern want to be with high-speed rail?
Moorman: The answer to your first question is no in the sense that I … and we have thought about this … I do not ever foresee a time when Norfolk Southern will be the operator of passenger trains itself.  We’re not going to be like the old Southern Railway and have our own trains out there. The world is going to have to change in ways that I can’t foresee for that to happen.

Having said that, we have passenger trains running on a significant amount of our railroad.  We have obviously these days an enormous number of people who want to talk to us about operating passenger trains on our railroad, including the state of Virginia, which is one of the better states that we work with about this, maybe the best. 

Our position is fairly straight forward; it has been the same way for a long time.  We are happy to talk about running passenger trains anywhere on Norfolk Southern.  There are three primary issues that have to be resolved before we’ll do it.

The first is capacity.  There has to be enough room out there for us to run all of our freight trains without delay and run the passenger trains without delay as well.  And that quite often means you have to add sidings, you have to add double track, you have to put money in the railroad.  If somebody wants to run those trains, they’ve got to bring that money.  The good news is there are very good modeling tools out there, which are generally agreed upon as to be accurate.  So you just go model it, and the model will tell you what you need. That’s issue number one.

Issue number two, which is a very thorny issue, is liability. We’re not in the business of transporting people today.  When you start putting more people out on trains, there is that much more possibility of an accident, which could create significant liability concerns for us.  We expect the operator of those trains to bear that liability.  For whatever might happen, that’s on their nickel.  We do not want any additional liability imposed as a result of running passenger trains out there.  The Amtrak model works.  Amtrak has all of the liability for running trains.

And then the third thing is we’re owned by our shareholders. We’re a private company, and we do expect some return for the use of our assets.  We’re in business.  We’re not a public service agency.  These three issues are not unreasonable, but equally importantly not seen as unreasonable by anyone who knows the business, including people who want to run passenger trains.

I think there’s an excellent example of our attitude about passengers right here in Hampton Roads.  The idea was broached would we be receptive to having passenger trains operate on our railroad from Norfolk over to Petersburg, where they could go North to Washington?  It turns out that this particular stretch of railroad has a lot of capacity.  It needs some work done to run trains but not an enormous amount of work.  It’s a really good route in terms of being able to run at speed because there are very few curves.  And it’s just a place where we thought, yes, if we can get the enhancements we need the state of Virginia is a great partner for us. We want to work with them.

So we have a plan with the state, and I think the state is moving forward to get funding.  I think they’re hopeful that in whatever the timetable is — a couple or three years (I’m making that number up), there will be trains leaving downtown Norfolk x … there will be trains leaving downtown Norfolk. You get on the train in Norfolk and you end up in New York.

VB: And this would be paid for with $75 million in state funds?
Moorman: The $75 million is what we need to spend to put in the appropriate signaling controls and some additional capacity.  That would be spent over some period of time.  It would give us the capacity to run several passenger trains a day.  I think the $75 million actually includes station work and some other things as well.

VB: I had a real estate executive in Richmond tell me the other day that if Richmond doesn’t get high-speed rail to Washington, then it will be cut out of the commercial growth in the mid-Atlantic Corridor.  It seems that people are getting to the point where they feel it’s crucial if an area wants to grow.
Moorman: Yes.  I think there are people who want to ride trains. And I think people in Hampton Roads think that it’s important.  Of course, there’s a great tie in here with the light rail system they’re building.

VB: Are you’re going to ride The Tide?
Moorman:  You ride the Tide to Harbor Park, which is where they’re going to put the train station.  And if they ever get going and put the Tide out to the beach, you can get out at Virginia Beach … I think they need to get the light rail extended to get the ridership they need.  I think people will ride the passenger train out of here.  I mean, the interesting project we worked on with Amtrak and the State was to put another daily service down to Lynchburg and out, so we have two trains a day back and forth in there.  Their initial ridership projection on that new train was 55,000 a year; they got 51,000 in the first six months. 

VB: What is the greatest challenge in leading a major transportation company today? There are environmental challenges, derailments, safety risks.  Sometimes, unfortunately, there are terrible accidents like the one that happened in Graniteville, S.C. So it can’t be an easy job. 
Moorman: It’s a cakewalk.  It’s a great job.  I love it.  It’s the greatest job in the world, I think.  The greatest long-term worry for our industry, the company and the industry, there are a lot of moving parts in terms of operations, capital investment … But the greatest long-term, significant concern I have is the legislative and regulatory environment in Washington.  There seems to be an unstoppable desire to increase regulations in a way that add, in my opinion, no value or protection for the public, and just increase the cost and complexity of doing business.

And then there are legislative initiatives that would substantially change the regulatory environment under which we operate and would diminish, if not destroy, our ability to earn an adequate return.

VB: Can you give an example?
Moorman: Well it’s all around the way we are regulated by a group called the Surface Transportation Board ...We can give you chapter and verse on it.  Over the long term, this is not partisan politics … I have faith that at the end of the day that common sense prevails and that the railroad industry will be allowed to thrive and to invest because I think most people acknowledge that railroads have to be more and more of the solution to the nation’s transportation problems.  But that’s a source of a lot of concern for a lot of people, including me.

VB: Can it be argued that things are falling into place that could usher in a rebirth for railroads?
Moorman: There’s a phrase that’s been circulating around for the past five or six years called the “rail renaissance.” Leaving passengers aside, if you look at what’s happening with this domestic intermodal business, in a world in which there are systemically higher fuel prices, in which the interstate highway system and the nation’s highway system is in a state of increasing disrepair and congestion, competing against an industry, the motor coach CHECK industry, which has its own set of problems, probably the greatest of which is they can’t find people who want to drive long-distance trucks.  And then on top of that, a public and then a shipping community that is more and more interested in sustainability and environmental responsibility.  All of these things point in the direction of the railroad.  that’s why we’re seeing some of the business trends that we’re seeing, and particularly people converting freight off the highways onto the railroads.

So, yes. Almost every public policy leader you talk to, or that I talk to, believes that and thinks that we have to do more and more and more.  But as I say, there are interests and forces in Washington that seem intent on damaging our ability to play the role that I think we ought to play.

VB: Do you spend a lot of time in Washington lobbying?
Moorman: I spend a fair amount of time, yes.  It’s part of the job.

VB: We sat down with you four years ago in 2006 when you were first named as chief executive. At that time, you said you considered it a wonderful challenge because you would have the opportunity to make an imprint on the company.  How have you put your imprint on the company?  Going forward, what is your vision for Norfolk Southern?
Moorman: People other than me are the people to talk about my imprint on the company.  I certainly think we’ve done some things that are very good … We have a great company and a great leadership team who have great ideas. I just kind of say ‘go get them.’ So I don’t think there’s much credit I would take there.

In the long term, there are a few things.  This corridor strategy, the Heartland, the Crescent, the other things we’re doing.  I think that’s important for the company over the long term.  That’s something I’m committed to seeing through because at the end of the day we’re a franchise business, and these are significant enhancements to our franchise.  And they will be lasting enhancements.

I think we’ve done some good things in terms of the workforce, in terms of bringing in new people, and at least starting to manage through some very serious demographic challenges that we’ve had.  Like every other American company other than Google, we have demographic challenges.

VB: With people retiring and that kind of thing?
Moorman: Yes. 

VB: Is it hard to get younger workers into railroad positions?
Moorman: We’ve done some things to enhance our recruitment efforts.  It’s no harder than it has ever been.  It’s not an easy place to work.  In some ways, we’re demanding folks.  And when you’re in our operating division, they are very demanding jobs.  But they’re also very interesting jobs.  I think there are a lot of young people out there who want to do interesting work and are up for a challenge, and those are the folks we’re looking for.  We find a lot of great people.

VB: What about safety, is there anything you want to mention? I know Norfolk Southern has a good safety record in the industry.  Any new initiatives in that area? 
Moorman: Yes.  Safety is the core, is the foundation of everything that we do, and it’s the foundation of our culture.  We’re always doing new things in safety.  But you know, the most important thing about safety is that it’s every employee in the company believing that we are going to work safe every day.  And we do that.  I always say this every talk I give that safety is of first importance in this company because at the end of the day, it’s good business … Certainly I feel it’s almost a moral obligation that we all feel that at the end of the day, there’s no higher obligation that we have as employees of our company than to make sure that everyone goes home safe.  When people think that way, then you have a great safety culture.

VB: What do like to do in your spare time to relax, to get away from the business? 
Moorman: I do a lot of different things.  I don’t read as much as I used to.  I do read.  I don’t read business books.  I occasionally play a little golf.  I exercise.  I think that’s important in terms of stress relief. 

VB: Do you run or lift weights?
Moorman: I run some.  I do the elliptical [machine.]  I’ve been riding a bike more and more, which I enjoy.  I just kind of hang out.  I have a lot of other interests, which I think is very important. You know a trainee asked me this the other day, “How do you relax?”  And I said, you know, you always — I mean it’s a great job — but you’re always kind of thinking about it in some way, not in a negative way, but thinking about things that need to be done, different ideas.  That’s fine, that’s fine.  I don’t mind that.  It’s OK … But I don’t spend 15 hours a day in the office every day.  I don’t feel that you have to do that.

VB: It sounds like you have a good approach about balance.
Moorman: Yes. It’s important to have other interests.  I have a great family.  When I go home, my wife, and then when I’m with my children who are now grown, if I’m too focused on the railroad when I’m with them, they slap me around.  And if they think I’m starting to act like a CEO around them, they slap me around, too, and that’s great as well.

VB: My final question: Is there something I didn’t ask you that you’d like to talk about, that you feel is important to the transportation industry?
Moorman: We’ve hit the Washington stuff.  We’ve hit the future of the company.  As I started out by saying, I have been very blessed to have the career that I’ve had and am having.  Let’s not cut it short right away.  But you know, equally if not more importantly, in fact more importantly, I’ve been blessed that I work for a great company …

One of the things that make it fun to come to work every day is that I work with great people, not only from the standpoint of very competent, but just very good people.  I like the people in our company, and we like each other in general.  I think that makes for an environment in which we can all be comfortable to do our best. That probably sounds too soppy.  Anyway…

VB: So you’re getting ready to leave for vacation and are heading for Italy and where else? 
Moorman:  Italy and London.  We go to London every year pretty much.  I lived over there for a couple of years when I was a kid .I’m kind of an Anglophile, and my wife likes it too … We go to London and relax.  It’s kind of like we know it very well.  We like to be there.  We go do the things we like.  So it’s kind of strange.  But we have to go a long way.  It helps to be five or six hours in a time zone away … I still call the office every day or two, and I still do e-mail every day just because I clean it out.  If I went away for two weeks and I came back and I didn’t touch email, I’d have a thousand e-mails or something like that.

I’ve actually been on a concerted effort, which I do every year, for the past two weeks to just hit that unsubscribe button to everything I can find.  And then I put them in the junk mail hoping that the filters will catch them next time through.  I’m hoping that maybe I’ll get a 20 percent reduction in email.  But I carry my phone, and I’m carrying a laptop.

VB:  So you’re not totally off?
Moorman:  Oh no, no.  You’re never … these are for a host of reasons.  I tell people all the time it’s the weirdest job I’ve ever had by far.  And there are just various things that make it that way, but certainly one of them is you are never off.  It’s just not the deal, right. You sign up for the deal, and the deal includes you’re never off. 

When I found out I was going to get this thing — and I’m ambitious like everybody else, and there was a succession process — and then I was told I was going to get it.  In retrospect I would have said, my first reaction would have been elation. ‘Hot damn.’ There was probably 10 seconds of that.  And then all of the sudden there was this ‘Oh my God.’ feeling of ‘Can I do that? ‘And the jury is still out. 

I was describing the feeling to a friend of mine.  And he said, “Well of course you feel that way. You have 30,000 mouths to feed.”  I thought, “That’s not how I’m going to think about this.”  So anyway, that’s enough rambling.

VB: Do you have a train under your Christmas tree?
Moorman: No, I don’t.  But I have a ton of model train stuff …  I have plenty that could go under the tree.  We have one out here under the tree.

VB: Thanks again.  I hope you read Virginia Business.
Moorman:  I do read it, but I’m not going to read this one.

VB: You’ve got to read this one.
Moorman: If I can avoid it I will.  I never read stuff about myself if I can possibly avoid it.  And I don’t look at myself.  I occasionally make myself look at a clip if I’m on TV, but I always think, ‘Oh you look so stupid.’ 


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