Rosedale Transport – 50 Years of Success

This September begins a celebration with much excitement. OTR had the privilege of spending time with Rolly Uloth, President of Rosedale and his daughter Rhoda Uloth to discuss where the company has come from and where it is going. To start the 50th Anniversary celebration, everyone working at Rosedale in Canada will receive a commemorative jacket and a die-cast truck. As well, the Head Office in Mississauga will host a celebration for employees, and a guest, that are within driving distance to attend.

From its humble beginnings in 1969 with one truck and two customers (one of which remains a loyal customer today) and a warehouse in Hamilton, Rosedale has grown to 15 terminals across Canada and the USA, all the while maintaining the same company values throughout their years of exponential growth. Today, North America wide, Rosedale has a fleet of 60 straight trucks, 500 plus tractors, 1560 trailers and over 900 employees.

Both Rhoda and her brother Ron Uloth have been around the company for over 30 years. Rhoda recalls, “My brothers and I always played in the warehouse. As a result, I have that wave of nostalgia every time I walk into a warehouse and smell carpet. I just love it! In grade school, when they asked Ron and me what we wanted to do when we grow up, we always wanted to be at Rosedale”.

Rhoda started in various clerical positions, settling in Accounting for several years and ultimately migrated into sales. Her focus was on developing data-driven reporting and metrics to help develop a more efficient and successful sales process. Today, she focuses on the customer side of the business; she knows all the major customers and travels extensively to meet with them in person.

Ron started in the warehouse and has done almost everything to be done on the Operations side. He has a knack for seeing what others cannot. Rhoda states, “Ron can walk into a warehouse and determine the most efficient manner to maximize the use of space and traffic, even when others have determined that the warehouse is full.”

One significant feature of the Rosedale Group is that the vast majority of employees have been with the company for many, many years. The company has a low turnover of people. “So much so,” Rolly relates, “that we had to stop giving away 10+ years of service awards at our Christmas parties because it would take too much time. We now focus on 25 years of service awards”.

Another good example is that they still have a driver who has worked with the company from the beginning days in Hamilton. He started when he was 17 and now drives three days per week. This is invaluable because you can teach a person their role and their duties for their position but, the experience they gain over time in dealing with multiple situations and dealing with the company’s standards and specific practices is something that cannot be replaced easily.

Rolly also touches on the extraordinary relationship he has with his partner Barry Smith. He states, “I am lucky to have an excellent partner who has trusted me to run Rosedale along with my family”. Rolly feels that at Rosedale, they have both talented and diverse management and that Rosedale’s Directors are the mainstay of the company. Rhoda states, “I don’t know where we would be without the support and mentorship of our Management Team. They are always there to lean on, to discuss issues and overcome obstacles. They are all just wonderful people and we couldn’t do this without them”.

One of the major changes in the customer landscape, as observed by both Rhoda and Rolly, is that new business is now typically done on tenders alone. Thus, and regretfully, the element of personally knowing your customer is ever dwindling. Rolly states, “We do try to have a relationship with every customer as much as possible. The age of the handshake is not yet dead”.

Social media, as we all know, has changed the landscape. At Rosedale, Facebook is a resource that has been tapped to be used as their external newsletter. Explains Rhoda, “Potential customers and potential hires and all our Rosedale family review our Facebook page to see how we communicate and how we celebrate as a family”.

There is a concerted effort to hold company events at each terminal quarterly. The theme varies and can be customized to suit the terminal location where it is being held. It is an opportunity to be able to speak to most of the employees and visit with them while they enjoy some food and a Rosedale giveaway. As much as possible, the events are posted on the Rosedale Facebook page for all to see.

As Rolly puts it, “In this business, you get measured on your failures more so than on all your on-time successes. The key is to be able to turn a negative into a positive”. The way that social media is used gives the company the opportunity to communicate their culture and values.

“Our vision for the future is bright” explains Rolly. “Over the years, we’ve grown organically and have made small acquisitions that made sense for our business. We are well-respected in our marketplace. Floor covering represents about 65-70% of our business. We also move general freight on a case by case basis”.

On tap for Rosedale is adding a 30,000 square foot addition to the present headquarters as well as construction of their building in Ottawa.

As in every industry, there are challenges to growth. According to Rolly and Rhoda, their top challenge is to hire and retain quality employees, both drivers and in-house staff. In addition, they have the difficulty of managing relationships with customers with the emergence of third-party freight entities. It is a very transactional environment which, by its very nature, creates an impersonal experience for the drivers as well, “Today” as Rolly explains, “it is a race to the lowest rate. We constantly aim to align our freight rates with our costs”.

While there is no formal succession plan in place, the long term direction is for Rhoda and Ron to take over the company. Rolly concludes, “I am not ready to retire anytime soon’’.

Happy 50th Rosedale Transport!