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.

Beth Whited, Executive Vice President - Marketing and Sales & CMO

Whited was appointed executive vice president and chief marketing officer in December 2016. In this position, she is responsible for Union Pacific's four major business units: agricultural products, energy, industrial products and premium. She also oversees Customer Care & Support.

Previously, Whited had been vice president and general manager-Chemicals, a position she held since October 2012, after serving one year as vice president of the railroad’s National Customer Service Center. Since joining Union Pacific in 1987, she has held a variety of executive roles in Strategic Planning, Investor Relations, Finance and Marketing & Sales including president of subsidiary Union Pacific Distribution Services.

Whited is a member of the Humanities Nebraska board, Nebraska Humane Society Board and the advisory board of the Omaha Public Library Foundation. She was a founding member and former president of Union Pacific’s LEAD (Lead, Educate, Achieve, Develop) women’s initiative.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Iowa in 1987.

She and her husband Kelvin have three children.

Brad Thrasher, Vice President and General Manager - Agricultural Products

Brad Thrasher was appointed vice president and general manager - 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 and general manager – Industrial Products. Previous to that role, he served as president & general manager 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 and General Manager - Energy

Linda Brandl was named vice president and general manager-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 and general manager-Coal, vice president and general manager-Automotive and vice president of Union Pacific’s National Customer Service Center. She was also president of Union Pacific Distribution Services, 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 reside in Omaha with their four children.

Kenny Rocker, Vice President and General Manager - Industrial

Kenny Rocker was appointed vice president and general manager - Industrial in September 2017. Industrial includes multiple commodity areas including construction, lumber and paper, metals and ores, specialized markets, minerals, industrial chemicals, plastics and soda ash.

Rocker has held various positions during his career with the railroad including assignments in Automotive, the Market Development & Sales Center, Chemicals and most recently as vice president and general manager - Industrial Products.

Rocker received a bachelor's degree in Finance from Tuskegee University. He currently serves as Chairman of the Lutheran Family Services Audit Committee and on the NorthStar board. He and his wife April have four daughters.

Jason Hess, Vice President and General Manager - Premium

Jason Hess was named vice president and general manager - 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 and general manager - Agricultural Products and most recently vice president and general manager - 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 UP'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.

Kari Kirchhoefer, Vice President Customer Care & Support

Kari Kirchhoefer was named vice president - Customer Care & Support in September 2017. 

During her career with Union Pacific, Kirchhoefer served as president of the company's Streamline subsidiary in addition to Marketing & Sales positions in Agricultural Products, Automotive, Industrial Products and the Market Development Sales Center. Her most recent assignment was vice president – Chemicals.

Kari currently serves on the board of directors for the Child Saving Institute and is 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.

Brian Maher, Senior Assistant Vice President - Marketing & Sales Operations

Brian Maher was named senior assistant vice president – Marketing & Sales Operations in October 2015. He is responsible for several marketing and sales support functions, including UP’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.