LAKE OSWEGO, Ore., April 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. (NYSE:GBX) announced today that Jim Cowan has joined the company as Senior Vice President, Operations. He will report to William A. Furman, Chairman and CEO of Greenbrier. In this newly created role, Cowan will utilize his broad experience in manufacturing and the rail industry to support Greenbrier's operations across its integrated business model. Cowan will drive execution of the Company's previously announced strategic initiatives to improve its gross margins and liberate capital while increasing return on invested capital. Cowan will lead focused activities directed to margin enhancement, with initial emphasis on the repair & parts businesses. Cowan is well known in the railcar industry with years of experience in senior leadership positions. Most recently, he worked for Amsted Rail supporting their activities in Brazil. Prior to that Cowan served as President and Chief Executive Officer of publicly traded American Railcar Industries, Inc. (ARI) where he worked approximately eight years. He was also a member of the board of directors for three ARI joint ventures including Axis, an axle manufacturing business. Additionally, Cowan served on the board of Ohio Castings, LLC, a joint venture between ARI, Greenbrier and Amsted Rail. Prior to entering the rail industry, Cowan spent 26 years in various positions involving the engineering, construction and manufacturing of steel and tubular products. During this time, Cowan served as President and Chief Operating Officer for publicly held Maverick Tube Corporation and also as President and Chief Operating Officer of Vallourec & Mannesmann Star. "The addition of a seasoned executive of Jim's caliber to Greenbrier adds depth to our executive team," said Furman. "His international business experience and operations expertise will benefit our entire organization." "Jim's abilities will help Greenbrier reach our stated objectives to expand our gross margin, increase our return on invested capital and improve our operational efficiencies, particularly in our repair & parts business." Furman added. "I am confident Jim's contributions will quickly add to shareholder value, helping us to more fully recognize and capitalize on the abundant opportunities presented by the current railcar manufacturing and railcar maintenance cycles."