Employee Spotlight: Riley Ferguson
What is your official job title at Northern Plains?
A. Manager of Car Repair – I was just promoted in April of this year, and before that I was the manager of mobile car repair. Before I was strictly mobile repair (dispatching crews) and now I’m still doing that but also in the shop.
When did you start?
A. I started August 27, 2012, as a carman in the Fordville car shop. I started working the night shift originally, then to mobile repairs, but I’m in the office now and that’s a lot easier with a family.
What does your job entail?
A. I’m currently overseeing rail car repairs in our Grand Forks shop, and that’s where I spend four of my five days a week now. I’m also dispatching my mobile crew out of Fordville, and I am a member of the newly formed Senior Leadership Safety Committee.
Why did you want the job?
A. I was always interested in welding in high school, when I would take different vocational classes, and I got hooked on it. I pursued welding and iron working, and then got bit by the railroad bug. I’m an employee by day, but also a railroad enthusiast – admittedly some would call me a “foamer” – but I come by it honestly. I think I’ve passed it on to my daughter, who also gets really excited about trains and calls me the “choo choo boss.” We took a trip to Duluth recently and we got to ride on the excursion run by the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. We all had a great time – and funnily enough, that was my first time actually riding a passenger train!
What are you most excited about for the future?
A. I’m excited about all the growth we’ve been working on – especially expanding our mobile repair network. Also seeing the Grand Forks site come to life and seeing where it goes. I’m excited to see more expansion company-wide, too, with all the new business opportunities we’ve been discussing. Who knows where we’ll go next?
What does your average day look like?
A. I get to the shop in the morning, get the shop ready for the day, wait for the crew to file in, and go over the plan for the day with the shop lead. Next, I call the mobile crew in Fordville, and get an idea of what to expect from them for the day. I go over what they’ll do and where they’ll go. After that, I help deal with issues as they come up throughout the day. I also go through billing and take a lot of phone calls. Lately, I’ve also been doing a lot of work to get things in place at the Grand Forks shop.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. I’d say the camaraderie we have at Northern Plains. I didn’t get to where I am on my own; I’ve had a lot of support from the past and present managers. The team we have right now are always helpful, and I really appreciate that. It’s nice to know you have that kind of support when you’re dealing with day-to-day challenges. I’ve always had great mentors here.
Where are you from? What’s your hometown?
A. I’m from Park River, ND. It’s about 15 minutes north of Fordville. I’ve lived there most of my life, moved to Grand Forks and Minot for a bit, and now I live in Park River again with my spouse and two kids.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
A. Lately I’ve really been enjoying cooking and baking. I’m trying to master bread right now. I do most of the cooking, so it feels like a good thing to be into when the kids are young, and we spend a lot of time at home. I like to hunt and fish, although that’s sort of taken a back seat while we’ve been busy with little ones. I also really enjoy going to sporting events; this fall we went to a Twins game with the whole family and had a great time.