By Pat Foran, Editor, Progressive Railroading

Security is a priority for every link in the rail-industry chain, and it’s becoming even more of a focus for organizations with operations around the globe. Witness the recent decision by one of North America’s largest freight-rail equipment suppliers to create a senior-level security position — and name a former Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent to fill it.

On Feb. 7, the Greenbrier Companies Inc. announced the appointment of Greg Bretzing to the new position of director of global security and special projects. A 22-year FBI veteran, Bretzing will oversee physical security measures at all facilities Greenbrier owns or occupies.

He’ll also manage security for the company’s business travelers outside of the United States.

Additionally, Bretzing will help drive Greenbrier’s cybersecurity efforts and play an active role in the Lake Oswego, Ore.-based company’s public policy and international business activities.

Bretzing will report directly to Greenbrier Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Furman.

“We are fortunate to have a seasoned individual of Greg’s caliber join the Greenbrier team,” Furman said in a prepared statement. “As a proven leader in the security field, he is a valuable addition to our team as we continue to execute on our international strategy and expand our geographic footprint.”

In January, Bretzing completed an FBI career that started in 1995. His most recent service was as special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Portland, Ore., where he directly and indirectly managed more than 250 employees in six offices across the state. Prior to serving in Oregon, Bretzing was an FBI inspector at agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., for 18 months.

Bretzing also has experience working around the globe. He was deployed overseas on numerous occasions, including stints as the FBI’s attaché in Panama City, Panama, in 2001, and as the bureau’s on-scene commander in Afghanistan in 2009.

That international experience likely meant something to Greenbrier, which continues to diversify globally by entering markets “where regional and global demand is in place today in those markets and is expected in the future,” as Furman put it during the company’s Jan. 6 earnings teleconference, according to a transcript of the event posted on Seeking Alpha.

In addition to building and marketing freight cars in North America, Greenbrier builds them in Europe; the company also builds freight cars and rail castings in Brazil via a strategic partnership. Greenbrier’s facilities in Brazil include the largest rail-car assembly plant in South America.

Recently, Greenbrier also began delivering — through its European manufacturing operations — U.S.-designed tank cars in Saudi Arabia.

And in October 2016, the company entered into an agreement with Astra Rail Management GmbH to form Greenbrier-Astra Rail. The aim: to create an end-to-end, Europe-based freight-car manufacturing, engineering and repair business.

“The formation of Greenbrier-Astra rail, it’s a very big thing in the Western European market, and more significantly, is a big thing for access to markets adjacent to Europe,” Furman said during the Jan. 6 teleconference.

Hiring Bretzing to serve in the newly created role — and elevating security to senior-management-team status — is a big thing, as well.

“The safety and security of all of our global facilities and employees remain our top priority and is foundational to our growth strategy,” Furman said in the Feb. 7 press release. “Greg is also an experienced manager and administrator who will bring depth to our management team, particularly in the areas of public policy and international engagement.”