How America’s Freight Rail Infrastructure Benefits Small Businesses

In Anti-Icing Deicing, Glidex®, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc., Rail, Rail & Mass Transit, Rail Lubrication, Railroads, Zero Gravity Third Rail® by Eric Vantiegham

When America’s freight railways do well, so too do American small businesses.

While commuter railways such as Amtrak might be most Americans’ primary interaction with railroads, rail infrastructure likely plays a bigger role in the economic life of the country than they realize. Indeed, the United States boasts the best freight railroad system in the world, with one study showing that American Class I railroads support 1.1 million jobs, $219.5 billion in economic output, and $71.3 billion in wages.

What’s more, the effects of this prosperity aren’t concentrated in a few large corporations, but are shared by everyday Americans and the small businesses that help freight railroads thrive. In fact, research from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council found that of 13 industries impacted directly or indirectly by freight railroads, all but one were dominated by firms that employ fewer than 20 employees.

This means that the success of freight rail and the success of small businesses that work with railways are intimately connected. By building a solid foundation for the future of American freight rail, it’s possible to secure the prosperity of the country’s railways and small firms. To do so, all stakeholders involved should consider investing in top-notch rail maintenance products that can cut costs and boost efficiency.

Railroads and Small Business by the Numbers

According to the SBE Council report, 13 industries are directly or indirectly impacted by freight railroads, including freight transportation arrangement, warehousing and storage, port and harbor operations, and machinery and equipment repair and maintenance — just to name a few. The type of work done by companies in these industries ranges from logistics and maintenance to agriculture and administration.

Crucially, the majority of the firms operating in these fields are small businesses. For example, in all 13 areas, businesses with fewer than 100 employees made up at least 69% of employer firms. In construction, that figure was as high as 98.9%. Additionally, at least 83.7% of businesses in these sectors employ fewer than 500 workers. 

What This Means for the Economy

From an economic perspective, the SBE Council report underscores the important relationship between freight rail and small businesses. Railway operators seeing a boom in business will, for example, require the expertise of small firms capable of handling needs as varied as rolling stock manufacturing and machinery and equipment repair. As the country’s freight rail network continues to thrive, small business owners and their employees can expect to play a part in the administration, maintenance, and operations of this infrastructure.

Investing in the Future of Our Freight Rail Infrastructure

Given the wide range of benefits freight railroads bring to American small businesses, it’s important for railway operators and key decision-makers to invest in the infrastructure that makes it all possible. The tracks, crossings, switches, and more that make America’s railroads such an important part of the national economic landscape require experienced care and high-quality maintenance products if they’re going to function properly.

With rail switch lubrication and anti-icing solutions from Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc., for example, railway operators can be confident they’re investing in products that will help keep their infrastructure in prime working condition. In fact, Midwest’s Glidex® family of lubricants and Zero Gravity Third Rail® anti-icing product line can keep railway switches functioning even in the harshest environments. Glidex lubricants can even be applied and continue to be effective in the coldest winter conditions, and Zero Gravity anti-icers proactively prevent the worst effects of ice and snow on railways.

Whatever type of solution your railway needs, Midwest is strategically positioned to help. Whether you’re simply in the market for a top-tier product or you’re interested in a comprehensive managed service program that incorporates everything from application to maintenance, our team has the know-how and experience to get the job done.

Eric Vantiegham is Midwest’s Rail & Transit Specialist. Skilled in product development, new business development, and strategic planning, he enjoys playing ice hockey and coaching his boys' youth teams.