MARS 2024 Summer Meeting & Scholarship Golf Outing

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Frequently Asked Questions


What Is MARS?

MARS is one of five regional associations that comprise the North American Association of Rail Shippers (NARS). Its territory includes the states of: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The objectives are to provide an open forum for resolving transportation issues coupled with programs designed to educate and inform the membership in areas of railroad operating practices, new innovations in transportation, and legislative matters.

MARS has become the preeminent forum for railroads and their customers to meet and discuss issues, with semiannual meetings ranging from 500 to 800 in attendance, with educational presentations on current issues and excellent peer to peer networking opportunities.

What MARS Is Not

MARS is not a partisan advocacy group. MARS does not take positions on issues between its members. When topical issues are addressed at MARS conferences, an effort is made to offer present fair and balanced information.

When Was MARS Established?

On March 27, 1924, 400 executives and managers from businesses and traffic organizations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and the western half of Indiana met in Chicago at the LaSalle Hotel to form the Midwest Regional Advisory Board.

In 1968, the Midwest Board was reorganized as the Mid-West Advisory Board and became the first regional board to establish equal participation by both shipper and rail­ road representatives.

In 200 I, the name was changed to Midwest Association of Rail Shippers (MARS), to identify more closely with the other regions affiliated with North American Association of Rail Shippers (NARS).
Although many changes have occurred in the industry since 1924 stemming from advanced technology, specialized equipment, unit train and intermodal operations, the Midwest Association of Rail Shippers continues to serve as a necessary and viable forum for users and providers of rail services to resolve important issues to rail transportation.

How Much Are MARS Dues?

MARS annual dues are $25.00 per calendar year, usually paid with the registration fee for meeting attendance but can be paid separately.

Who Is Eligible To Become A MARS Member?

MARS bylaws are intentionally inclusive for membership. Membership is open to “Those employed by any firm or institution involved in rail transportation”.

Who Belongs To MARS?

MARS membership includes over 1000 active member executives from rail customers representing all commodity groups, carload freight and intermodal carriers, freight car builders and lessors, providers of rail transportation supplies and equipment as well as transportation trade publications.

What Are MARS Objectives?

To provide a medium through which the members can gain a better understanding of each other’s issues.
To provide the interchange of ideas in anticipation of freight carrying equipment supply and service requirements.
To develop a better understanding between the members regarding equipment requirements, service and utilization.
To educate members on new developments relating to the railroad industry.
To make members aware of state and national legislation affecting freight carrying equipment, service and related matters.

WIFM = What’s In It For Me?
  • Become Part Of A Proud Heritage While MARS began meeting in 1924, today, MARS is often called the premier rail shippers organization and stands out as the best conference value for rail freight executives to attend.
  • MARS membership is a valued credential
  • Attend MARS Conferences MARS meets in January and July each year providing top quality speakers addressing a variety of topics of interest to rail freight decision makers, as well as a chance to meet hundreds of others in the industry. In addition, MARS hosts several subject specific breakout sessions. The most cost-effective conference available.
  • Educational Opportunities The agendas at the MARS conferences feature noteworthy executives from all segments of business that affects rail freight, addressing the most current subject matter.
  • Extraordinary Networking Opportunities MARS membership is made up of officers and decision makers of rail customers, railroads and suppliers. MARS conferences have the highest attendance of the rail shipper’s associations with recent meeting registrations running close to 500 in July to 800 in January. Meetings are organized to provide plenty of networking time with phone app and hardcopy attendance lists, with contact info, to assist in connecting with the right people.
  • Chance To Get Noticed Through participating in MARS organizational activities or through a wide variety of sponsorship opportunities MARS provides a great deal of recognition at our meetings as well as on our website.
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