Marketing and Sales: Who We Are
Union Pacific Railroad has one of the most diversified commodity mixes in the industry, including chemicals, coal, consumer products, food and food products, forest products, grain and grain products, government, intermodal, metals, minerals, waste, and automobiles and parts. The Marketing and Sales group is organized into four major commodity groups, with finance and operational expertise within each group, in order to serve the specialized needs of each customer. The Mexico marketing group offers customers in each of these commodity areas expertise and unique service capabilities in expediting shipments to and from the border.
The Marketing and Sales organization also offers customers the advantage of a dedicated Shipment Quality team and an Industrial Development group for the specialized services related to site and location analysis for business development.
Kenny Rocker, Executive Vice President - Marketing and Sales
Kenny Rocker was appointed executive vice president Marketing and Sales in August 2018. He is responsible for the company’s four major business units: Agriculture, Energy, Industrial and Premium, including Union Pacific’s Mexico business. He also oversees the railroad's Customer Care and Support team and the Loup Logistics subsidiary.
Previously, Rocker served as vice president - Industrial, a position he held since August 2016. Since joining Union Pacific in 1994, he has held various Marketing & Sales positions including assignments in Automotive, Chemicals and the Market Development & Sales Center.
Rocker graduated with a bachelor's degree in Finance from Tuskegee University. He serves as Chairman of the Lutheran Family Services Audit Committee and on the NorthStar board.
He and his wife, April, have four daughters.
Brad Thrasher, Vice President - Agricultural Products
Brad Thrasher was appointed vice president - Agricultural Products in September 2016. Thrasher is responsible for grain, grain products, food and refrigerated products and fertilizer.
Immediately prior to his appointment, he served as vice president – Industrial Products. Previous to that role, he served as president for Union Pacific Distribution Services (UPDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Union Pacific. Thrasher also has served as assistant vice president for Union Pacific’s Streamline subsidiary.
Since joining Union Pacific in 1988, he has held a wide variety of positions within Union Pacific’s Marketing and Sales organization including roles within the Automotive, Chemical, Intermodal and Industrial Products business teams, as well as positions in Business Development, Training and Resource Planning.
Thrasher graduated from Creighton University with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Thrasher previously served on the board for the Omaha Children’s Museum and enjoys spending time with his wife Ann and his three children traveling, hunting and enjoying the outdoors.
Linda Brandl, Vice President - Energy
Linda Brandl was named vice president - Energy in September 2017. She is responsible for managing Union Pacific's coal, petroleum coke, frac sand, LPG, petroleum and wind shipments.
Brandl has held various positions during her tenure with the railroad including recent assignments as vice president - Coal, vice president - Automotive and vice president of Union Pacific’s National Customer Service Center. She was also president of Union Pacific Distribution Services (UPDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Union Pacific Railroad, and held management positions in Chemicals, Coal, Automotive and Premium Operations.
Brandl earned her undergraduate degree in business administration and MBA from Creighton University. She currently serves on the board of directors for The Women’s Center for Advancement, which assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She is a former president of Union Pacific’s LEAD (Lead, Educate, Achieve, Develop) women’s initiative and has served on the board of directors for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Omaha Children’s Museum.
She and her husband, Matt, have four children.
Kari Kirchhoefer, Vice President - Industrial
Kari Kirchhoefer was appointed vice president - Industrial in August 2018. Industrial encompasses numerous commodity areas including construction, forest products, metals and ores, specialized markets, minerals, industrial chemicals, plastics and soda ash.
Most recently, Kirchhoefer had been vice president - Customer Care & Support, a position she held since September 2017. During her career, Kirchhoefer has served as vice president – Chemicals and president of the company's Streamline subsidiary. She has also held Marketing & Sales positions in Agricultural Products, Automotive, Industrial Products, Chemicals and the Market Development & Sales Center.
Kirchhoefer currently serves on the Salvation Army Advisory Board and was previously a board member for the Child Saving Institute. She is also a former executive director for Union Pacific's LEAD women's initiative.
Kari earned a bachelor's degree in Marketing from Northwest Missouri State University.
She and her husband, Dave, have two daughters.
Jason Hess, Vice President - Premium
Jason Hess was named vice president - Premium in September 2017. Premium includes automotive and intermodal business.
Hess started his career with Union Pacific as an account representative, and since then has worked in Agricultural Products, Industrial Products and Chemicals. His recent assignments include vice president of Union Pacific's National Customer Service Center, vice president - Agricultural Products and most recently vice president - Intermodal.
Hess has a bachelor's degree from Coe College. He and his wife, Kim, have two children.
Bernardo Ayala, Vice President - Mexico
Bernardo Ayala was appointed vice president - Mexico Markets in December 2008. In this role, he has responsibility for the strategic and tactical management of UP's Mexico Markets, including sales and support based throughout the United States and Mexico.
Ayala holds a law degree from Universidad Iberoamericana and a Masters in Law and Certificate in Business Administration from Northwestern University School of Law and Kellogg School of Management. He joined UP through its Management Development Program and held positions in the Premium Operations and Transportation departments of Union Pacific's Western Region. In his railroad career, he also has worked in Mexico for both the former National Railways of Mexico and Ferromex, one of the most important Mexican railroad concessionaries.
Brian Maher, Assistant Vice President - Marketing & Sales Operations
Brian Maher was named assistant vice president – Marketing & Sales Operations in October 2015. He is responsible for several marketing and sales support functions, including Union Pacific’s shipment quality efforts, Market Development and Sales Center and customer communications activities.
Brian has held a variety of positions in sales, marketing and logistics, including assistant vice president – Industrial Products Marketing, assistant vice president – International Automotive and assistant vice president –Industrial Products Sales. Prior to his current position, Brian was responsible for Union Pacific's short line and Class I commercial relationships, as well as the company’s industrial development function.
Brian graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Brian and his wife, Susan, have one son.