05/21/09 — Railroad executive, Goldsboro native dies

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Railroad executive, Goldsboro native dies

By Special to The News-Argus
Published in News on May 21, 2009 1:46 PM

Norfolk Southern Railroad's second chairman, Arnold B. McKinnon, a native of Goldsboro, died Tuesday in Washington D.C. A resident of Norfolk, Va. He was 81.

McKinnon served as the railroad's chief executive officer from 1987 to 1992.

For three years in a row, from 1990 through 1992, Financial World magazine named him one of the best chief executives in U.S. industry.

Under his guidance, Norfolk Southern increased productivity and launched the Thoroughbred quality improvement process.

McKinnon accepted the modern Norfolk Southern's first Harriman Gold Medal Award for employee safety, beginning a 19-year run.

After his retirement as CEO, McKinnon continued service on NS' board of directors until 2000, helping guide the company through the early stages of the Conrail transaction that increased the railroad's size by half and positioned it for long-term growth. In 2007, NS named its headquarters building in Norfolk in his honor.

"So much of what Norfolk Southern is today, we owe to Arnold," said NS CEO Wick Moorman.

"Many of his ideas became part of our guiding principles. He was, quite simply, a remarkable railroader and a wonderful person. We share in his family's loss, and we understand how much better we are for having known him."

McKinnon, who grew up in Lumberton, joined NS predecessor Southern Railway in 1951 as a law assistant. Among other positions, he was named vice president law in 1971 and executive vice president law and finance in 1981.

When Southern consolidated with Norfolk and Western Railway to form Norfolk Southern Corp. in 1982, McKinnon was named executive vice president marketing. He developed the company's new marketing structure and refined the concept of "the railroad as a service organization," a critical distinction since partial deregulation of the industry had just gone into effect.

In 1987, McKinnon was named chairman, president and chief executive officer.