Bruce Douglas Poff

March 27, 1946 ~ May 12, 2020 (age 74)


Bruce Douglas Poff

Born 3/27/1946 Passed 5/12/2020

Bruce Douglas Poff was born in Philadelphia but grew up in Roanoke, Virginia.  He returned to Philly for Abraham Lincoln High School.  Bruce was a gymnast his senior year.

Bruce started a summer job after graduation surveying for the Pa. Railroad.  Oliver Clifton Poff, Bruce’s Father passed when he was 18 in 1964.  He applied and was accepted for 3 colleges.  He chose Drexel.  He went to college at night.  He worked full time and took care of his mother Florence.  Bruce finished his college degree for Mechanical Industrial Engineering in 10 years.

Bruce and Judy met through family and married in 1969 while Bruce was still in college.  Bruce started his career with Pennsylvania Railroad and ended it at Conrail as General manager of the National Customer Service Center in Pittsburgh.  Bruce retired at age 55 when Conrail was sold.

Bruce started his career with newly formed Consolidated Rail Corportation which was created from seven bankrupt eastern railroads in 1976.

Bruce was serious about his work and worked hard to achieve his goals.  The emphasis of his career was modernizing the railroad’s management infrastructure and its systems.  Once he had earned his degree from Drexel, Conrail recognized that Bruce had an exceptional vision for change.  He joined the new Car Management team in 1984 as Director of Planning, advanced to Senior Director Planning for Customer Service, and was promoted to General manager of Conrail’s Customer Service Division by 1994.

His work had three critical thrusts: first, he automated empty freight car movement around customer demand and recognized that new equipment identification technologies, digitized shipment instructions, and the railroad’s operating plan could be linked to yield schedules for every shipment.  Second he worked with his industry counterparts to achieve market based daily rental rates on freight car equipment loaded by customers.  And third he developed and implemented many automated customer communication technologies making Conrail a leader in the industry.

These processes drove efficiency and lower costs for both the railroad and the customers.  The railroad Bruce joined from Drexel was losing $1 million per day in 1976.  When sold in 1997 it was making almost $2 million per day, without dramatic increase in revenues.  Employment was reduced by over by over 70 percent, freight cars owned by the railroad had been reduced 60 percent and freight car rental costs were driven down dramatically.  Customer service quality lead the industry.  The efforts of Bruce and his team were key to much of this improvement and created a foundation to the successful transformation from a collection of bankrupt railroads to a leader in the transportation industry.

Bruce and Judy had 2 children, Eric and Jennifer.  Bruce and Judy have 5 grandsons.  Eric's sons are Jake and Tyler.  Jennifer’s sons are Dominick, Roman and Oliver.  Oliver was named after Bruce’s Father.

Bruce was an exceptional man.  Most would agree they were moved by his character.  Bruce was giving, respectful and independent.  Many of his coworkers claim he was a great mentor and close friend.  Because he was an engineer he could build and repair anything.  When his children were young, he demonstrated his talents by building a clubhouse and playset as well as a model train village.  He filled his family’s home with unique projects and the latest high tech gadgets.  Bruce was a sci fi fan and avid reader.  Bruce was always there when others needed him and delivered help when asked.  All of those who knew Bruce feel honored to have known him.  The way Bruce lived his life was an example to us all to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

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