With Safety + Service & Operational Excellence the cornerstone of discussion, Union Pacific recently held its Industrial and Bulk customer forums in Omaha, bringing together leaders from the railroad and more than 100 customers.
CEO Jim Vena kicked off both events by sharing his strategic vision, emphasizing Union Pacific’s deep focus on building relationships and helping customers grow and win.
“We want you to win,” Vena told customers. “We want to understand your business, make decisions quicker and move ahead. We need to be the fastest at getting your cars to their destination, and we will be.”
With Bulk customers, President Beth Whited highlighted sustainability, quality of life and regulatory issues.
“We’ve been steadily increasing the amount of biofuel we’re using in locomotives,” Whited said. “Our alternative fuel blend target is 20% by 2030. We started in the 2.5-3% range, and we’re currently running around 6%.”
Kenny Rocker, executive vice president-Marketing and Sales, echoed Vena’s commitment to customers and discussed how Union Pacific’s capital investments – expected to total $3.6 billion in 2023 – are supporting Industrial and Bulk markets and enabling customer growth.
Enhancing the customer experience was central to Rocker’s remarks, including hosting customer webinars on trending topics such as hurricane preparedness; new API (Application Programming Interface) solutions; and the RailPulse pilot, which aims to increase real-time information and shipment visibility by leveraging GPS-equipped rail cars.
Leading their respective teams, Jacque Bendon, senior vice president-Industrial, underscored the importance of Union Pacific’s Industrial business, which comprises more than 1,100 different commodities hauled across Union Pacific’s 23-state network, such as forest products, construction materials, metals, plastics, chemicals, petroleum and soda ash. Jason Hess, senior vice president-Bulk, spoke about strategic growth investments so Union Pacific and its Bulk customers can win together, including commodities such as fertilizer, grain and biofuels.
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Union Pacific leaders providing additional business updates include Brian Barr, senior vice president, Transportation; John Turner, senior vice president-Harriman Dispatching Center and Network Planning; Brad Moore, vice president, Customer Care and Support; and Ashok Fichadia, assistant vice president-Customer Technology.
Topics centered around customer centricity, highlighting recent customer technology upgrades such as proactive rail maintenance notifications and shipment management enhancements, and Union Pacific’s focus on turning customer feedback into action.
Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, spoke at the Industrial forum, stating the key to winning is strength in safety, investments, employee relations and service, and while the current traffic outlook is mixed, the industry’s future is bright and geared for growth.