The Top Newsmakers of 2022: Joe Hinrichs

From new CEOs at some of the city’s largest companies to the death of a giant in the fight for civil rights, these are people who made headlines in Northeast Florida.

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  • | 12:00 a.m. January 3, 2023
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Joe Hinrichs

The surprise new CEO of railroad giant CSX Corp. has roots in the automobile industry.

Joe Hinrichs was a surprise choice to succeed Jim Foote as chief executive officer of CSX Corp. on Sept. 26 for a couple of reasons.

For one, Hinrichs was an outsider to Jacksonville-based CSX. Foote had been asked several times in public forums about succession plans since his appointment in late 2017, and he hinted that top executives inside the company would be under consideration.

Second, Hinrichs was not only an outsider to the company but also to the railroad industry.

The 55-year-old spent most of his career in the automobile industry, including two decades with Ford Motor Co. before he retired as president of its automotive operations in February 2020.

CSX officials believe Hinrichs’ experience in the automotive world will translate well into the railroad industry.

“Joe’s great strength is operational excellence. He enabled Ford to execute world-class manufacturing on a global scale, including prioritizing exceptional customer service,” Foote said in the news release announcing Hinrichs’ appointment.

“In addition to leading complex businesses over his 30-year career, he has proven that he understands how to prioritize safety and efficiency in an industry with dynamics that are similar to those we are navigating today in rail,” he said.

CSX began an overhaul of its operations under Foote’s predecessor, Hunter Harrison, when he took over in March 2017 and swept out the company’s former management.

Hinrichs told the Daily Record in an October interview that he isn’t planning a new strategic direction after the changes implemented by Harrison and Foote.

“The seeds were planted,” he said. “Now we’re bringing the water and sun and it’s growing.”

Hinrichs also said he expects to take an active role in community affairs. CSX is one of Jacksonville’s largest and most visible corporations.

“It’s where we’re based, it’s where our headquarters is. And I look forward to us being able to show that to the community,” he said.

“When you had the honor and privilege to hold a leadership position like this, it’s part of your responsibility to be a leader in the community and to give back and to show and to help that community.”