PITTSBURG — On Friday during the first Women in Business Breakfast, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce recognized the 2018 Women of Distinction and honored the first Influential Woman in Business award winner, Kaye Lynne Webb.  

Webb is a native of Texarkana, Texas. She received her bachelor of science in education from Pittsburg State University in 1964 and taught at Northeast High School and St. Mary’s Junior High School.

Webb served as administrative assistant to the president at PSU until 1996 and thereafter she filled her time with volunteer work and community service, which earned her the “Spirit of Pittsburg” award in 1999.

Lifetime friend of Webb, Linda Grilz announced her to the audience — calling Webb “her role model.”

“When I started my full time position at Pitt State in 1973, I was impressed with her — she quickly became my role model,” Grilz said. “Kaye Lynne was from the generation when women were just entering the workplace.

“Her professionalism, attention to detail, protocol, sense of humor and wit — she was quite impressionable for a 22-year-old and in time we became friends, and as they say, the rest is history.”

Grilz said Webb’s leadership has helped many women reach their goals of becoming businesswomen.

“All her life she has been paving the way for women,” she said. “Her leadership has left her mark on many, helping them find their business and many other endeavours.”

In 1983 Webb and her late husband, Dick, sat at their kitchen table and talked about opening their own business, Grilz said.

They made their dream a reality later that year and founded Watco, a rail service company which started with only eight employees.

Watco now has 37 short line railroads, 33 contract switching operations, 88 terminals, 35 mechanical shops, nine supply chain services locations, 5,100 track miles and 4,970 team members around the world.

Grilz called Webb a global business leader who calls Pittsburg her home.

“If you ask Kaye Lynne, she’ll say she had nothing to do with Watco’s success,” Grilz said. “She’ll say that her husband, Dick, was responsible for starting the business and growing it until it was time to hand if off to their son, Rick, and the Watco team.”  

It’s true, Webb gave credit to her husband, it was his idea, Webb said. She was surprised, not that he wasn’t qualified, but it was a big leap.

“I still say to this day you have to give credit where credit is due … somewhere he is looking down and shaking his head because we were just hoping that one location would make it,” she said.

Webb thanked her family, which came to watch her receive the award.

“I’m truly honored by this and I thank family for being here,” she said.

Webb said family is a big part of her accomplishments and everything else has been icing on the cake.
She said the Watco family is also a big part of the success of the business.

“They buy into it,” Webb said. “It is a family, they are talented and work hard and I’m very proud of that.”

She said her husband had a saying about running a business.

“He always said ‘take to care of customers and take care of the people that take care of customers and business will be a success,’” she said.

Webb thanked the chamber for the award and applauded those in the audience for their own successes.

“I’m honored to be first recipient,” she said. “I know there are many others in room that are just as worthy to receive this award.”

Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce President Blake Benson said from this day forward the award will be known as the Kaye Lynne Webb Influential Woman in Business award.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.