Higginbotham named AITX President
“Kurt Higginbotham has a clear vision to drive growth through enhanced products and services, data innovations and responsive teams,” AITX said. “With more than 30 years’ experience as an entrepreneur, innovator and owner of railcars and railcar services, he brings a tested ability to anticipate and lead in the ever-more-dynamic market of rail and industrial transport. He served as Founder, President and CEO of Appalachian Railcar Services (ARS), a pioneering solution-provider across repair networks, railroad operations, transloading and logistics. Through Higginbotham’s leadership, ARS and its business entities scaled its offering to more than 30 locations, an average of 25% year-over-year growth.”
Joining Higginbotham is Sean Hankinson as Chief Commercial Officer. AITX welcomed Hankinson with its acquisition of The Andersons’ leasing business. “For more than years, Hankinson has developed and executed railcar customer programs across leasing, fleet operations financing, and life cycle optimization,” AITX noted. “As Chief Commercial Officer, he manages customer relationships and AITX’s position in the marketplace.”
Most recently, Hankinson was Vice President and General Manager for The Andersons’ Rail Group. Before that, he worked for almost 25years at FreightCar America and its predecessors, culminating as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
Higginbotham and Hankinson join Melanie Connellee, Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer of AITX. Connellee “is an accomplished financial and operational executive who is on the forefront of process management, implementing operating platforms that maximize systems, data and organizational efficiencies,” AITX said. “Throughout her 30-year career, she has specialized in the transportation and industrial sector, holding key roles at Meridian Waste, a vertically integrated waste management company, and Direct ChassisLink, Inc. the largest provider of marine and domestic container chassis to the U.S. intermodal industry. Prior to that, she focused on large scale acquisitions, strategic planning, and IT integrations at EY, JP Morgan, and McKinsey & Company.”
“It is an honor to join AITX,” said Higginbotham. “We are changing the business to be razor-focused as the best-in-class, customer-centric railcar leasing and services provider in the world, through the use of talent and technology. We have a great and growing team that has the rare opportunity to build a dynamic business that truly partners with customers, seeing around the curve and delivering what they need.”
ITE Management, an asset management company, acquired American Railcar Industries (ARI) in 2018, divested its manufacturing business and retaining the leasing and repair, maintenance and service operations. ARI was rebranded as American Industrial Transport, Inc. In August 2021, AITX expanded it platform with its acquisition of The Andersons’ leasing business. Today, AITX and its affiliates manage approximately 60,000 railcars, and have 16 repair facilities throughout North America, “with a focus on data and technology to enhance railcar productivity.”