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Our History

GATX was founded as a small railcar leasing company more than a century ago. Since then, we have expanded the products and service we offer to become a premier lessor of transportation assets globally.

Our Founding

With the purchase of 48 used railcars, Max Epstein establishes the Atlantic Seaboard Dispatch in Chicago, one of the first companies to lease railcars to shippers on a long-term basis. The company would go on to change its name to German-American Car Company and then General American Transportation Corporation before becoming GATX in 1975.

“This company started out with quite a large capital in 1898, only it did not consist of money. It just consisted of ideas, of faith, and of some nerve.” –Max Epstein

Begins Manufacturing

GATX begins manufacturing its own railcars. We would go on to develop new types of cars, including an insulated tank car in order to create a temperature-controlled car for a California wine company, before exiting railcar manufacturing in 1984.

First Dividend

GATX initiates its first quarterly dividend, which we have paid uninterrupted since.

New York Stock Exchange

GATX begins listing on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2020, we became one of the few companies to celebrate 100 years on the NYSE.

A Commitment to Community

After a massive hurricane hits Miami, a joint venture of GATX delivers 50,000 gallons of donated pasteurized milk in its rail cars within three days, establishing our commitment to philanthropy and community involvement that continues today.

Expansion into Canada

GATX begins rail investment in Canada. Today, GATX Rail Canada has a presence in four Canadian provinces with two Sales and Account Solutions offices, three Service Centers, and two Customer Site Field Service units.

Support the Troops

GATX plays a key role in the Allied effort during World War II, both in transporting goods and in manufacturing tanks and other vital equipment.

TankTrainer Launches

GATX introduces a new training railcar called TankTrainer, a 33,500-gallon tank car outfitted with a variety of fittings, coatings and configurations. Since then, TankTrainer has provided a one-of-a-kind learning experience to thousands of customers, rail and yard workers, first responders, employees, and others.

Expansion into Mexico

GATX begins rail investment and operations in Mexico.

Expansion into Europe

GATX enters the European railcar leasing market with an investment in KVG, a leading European railcar lessor.

Joint Venture Formed

GATX and Rolls-Royce plc form our aircraft spare engine leasing joint venture, Rolls-Royce & Partners Finance.

European Fleet Size Doubles

GATX enters the Polish railcar leasing market with the acquisition of DEC and acquires the remaining interest in KVG. With these acquisitions, GATX Rail Europe becomes one of the largest tank car owners on the continent. Today, GATX Rail Europe has six strategically located offices across Europe for localized customer support and a full-service maintenance and railcar assembly workshop in Ostróda, Poland.

Make-A-Wish Partnership Deepens

Based on employee recommendations, GATX selects Make-A-Wish Illinois as the sole beneficiary of our annual employee giving campaign and fundraiser in Chicago. Since then, we have donated more than $5 million to the organization through corporate and employee gifts and fundraising efforts.

Responsible Care Logo
Responsible Care Partner of the Year

GATX becomes the first North American railcar lessor to receive the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care Partner of the Year Award, which recognizes the superb performance and safety record of companies involved in the distribution, transportation, storage, use, treatment, disposal and/or sales and marketing of chemicals. We will win the award again in 2017.

Expansion to India

GATX India Private Limited begins operations as the first private company registered to lease railcars under the Indian Railways Wagon Leasing Scheme.

Boxcar Fleet Growth

GATX significantly grows its boxcar fleet with the acquisition of 18,500 boxcars. The acquisition establishes GATX as the leader in the boxcar leasing market.

Customer Portal Launches

GATX launches This online portal provides customers in North America with a seamless way to manage their railcar fleets in real-time.

Trifleet Acquisition

GATX acquires Trifleet Leasing, the fourth largest tank container lessor globally and a complementary business to railcar leasing.

Direct Aircraft Spare Engine Investment

GATX begins investing directly in aircraft spare engines through a new entity, GATX Engine Leasing.


GATX proudly commemorated our 125th anniversary of unparalleled excellence. As we celebrated this significant milestone in 2023, we reflected on our century-long commitment to providing exceptional service to our valued customers across the globe.

We remain committed to driving forward with the same passion and determination that propelled us to the forefront of the industry for over a century, and we look forward to continuing to serve our customers with the highest standards of quality and service for many years to come.

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