Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


Peter Baumhefner

Gene, when the new Marketing Department came on line at SP, we, in the Operating Department, wondered where we were heading as a railroad. We all grimaced and criticized (rightly justified in my opinion) the hiring spree of new Marketing employees, the remodeling of a certain portion of One Market Plaza, the brand new furniture and other expenses associated with this decision while we had to make do with whatever we could find (band aids and bailing wire) to keep things operating for the Customer while keeping costs to a minimum. I even remember having to cut management positions in the field level as many of these new Marketing “experts” were being hired. Then when some of these new Marketing folks, who were nice enough on a personable basis in a general sense, came to review particular aspects of the operation and asked really naive questions without explaining “big picture” thoughts and where they were headed, we all thought it was nothing more than a group of boondogglers, riding trains for fun, living the good life and producing nothing. In retrospect, some good things came out of the Marketing Department efforts, but it was very hard to see at the time. The numerous silos in the Southern Pacific, the egos contained in those silos, and the inability to work as a team across all those silos made it a “no win” situation. I wonder where the railroad would have gone had there never been a Marketing Department. Faster demise, or more viable for a longer time…?

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