RSI Major Restructuring Under Way

Railway Supply Institute Board Chair Jack Isselmann

SmithBucklin will manage the association’s day-to-day operations, increase membership, and strengthen the RSI Trade Show and Conference planned for October 2022. The Washington, D.C., firm will also help RSI identify a permanent President by the end of the year.

Isselmann, Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Communications for The Greenbrier Companies, announced the move in an Aug. 3 letter, which Railway Age provides in its entirety here:

“Dear RSI member colleagues;

“Like our own organizations, many industry trade associations were faced with multiple pandemic-related challenges over the past 18 months and RSI was no exception. Our association faced cancellation of both the RSI Conference in 2020 and Railway Interchange in 2021. Also, RSI has been operating without a President as a leader for the organization since August 2020. Despite the challenges RSI has navigated, the organization remains in a strong position operationally and financially to continue to provide member value and do important and influential work on behalf of our members and the industry.

“The RSI Board’s Executive Committee has been actively involved in directing staff and operations since fall 2020, with the support of Nicole Brewin, our Senior Vice President of Government & Public Affairs who served as our interim chief staff executive and liaison to the board. As various board members increased their involvement to play an active role in RSI management, the board of directors determined that it would be prudent to form a Task Force to review and evaluate RSI’s organizational structure, resources and operating cost structure, and to determine what opportunities there might be for RSI to emerge even stronger coming out of the pandemic and economic downturn.

“The Task Force reviewed various options and opportunities, including evaluating the potential benefits of engaging a professional association management company. The Task Force conducted due diligence with several respected association management companies and recently presented its recommendations to the board of directors. I would like to provide an update on some important decisions regarding RSI’s future.

“As recommended by the Task Force, the RSI board of directors made the strategic decision to enter into a professional services agreement with SmithBucklin in Washington, D.C. effective October 1, 2021. SmithBucklin will manage our association’s day-to-day operations, allowing us to enhance our continued focus on advocacy and government activities support of our important technical committees, and delivering valuable content, educational and event experiences that help us to advance the railway supply industry.

“SmithBucklin is a highly regarded firm, with headquarters in Chicago and Washington, D.C., and has extensive experience in working with associations such as ours. We have been consistently impressed by their strategic capabilities, commitment to operational excellence, and their customer-centric approach.

“Partnering with SmithBucklin will allow us to leverage their deep expertise in helping RSI innovate, grow, and thrive. This includes increasing membership, enhancing our products and services, and strengthening our RSI Trade Show and Conference planned for October 2022. The RSI leadership strongly believes that this partnership with SmithBucklin is the right answer for us, and will allow us to serve our current and future members at the highest level possible.

“As part of the transition process, we are working with SmithBucklin to launch the search for a permanent RSI President to serve as our chief staff executive and lead the RSI staff team. A Search Committee has been formed and our goal is to identify a new President by the end of 2021.

“Stay tuned for further announcements about the transition, including the official move to our new home at SmithBucklin’s offices at 2001 K Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. In the meantime, it is business as usual, and you should continue to use the current RSI address, phone, and email until further notice.

“Thank you for your continued support of the Railway Supply Institute. We value you, and look forward to exciting opportunities ahead.

“For additional information about the transition, feel free to contact us.”

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