2023 marks the 20th anniversary of ROAR Logistics, so REG caught up with President and Founder, Bob Rich III, to find out what has kept the wheels in motion as he guides his team along the road to becoming one of the largest and fastest growing logistics companies in America.
“Twenty years ago, when someone asked me what differentiates ROAR from the competition, I always pointed to our people. And today, it’s still our people,” said Bob. “We have an extraordinary team of talented individuals who consistently remain united and engaged around a singular objective: to deliver the perfect order.”
For ROAR, a celebration of 20 years in business isn’t about a victory lap for the company, it’s about paying tribute to the people that have made success possible: associates, customers, vendors and the communities in which ROAR operates.
ROAR: Then and Now
In 2003, Bob and two associates set out to change the logistics landscape from a small office leased in Buffalo, NY. Armed with a business plan and his strong entrepreneurial spirit, Bob started making calls. A lot of calls.
“The biggest challenge for any start-up is gaining credibility,” stated Bob. “There is no roadmap to getting a customer to give you a chance, but I think credibility is built by delivering beyond the wildest expectations of our customers and prospects. When we don’t meet those expectations, when something goes awry, I’m on the phone right away, working at getting us another chance to right that wrong and earn back that business. If you’re not constantly working to earn and maintain credibility, you won’t be viable for long.”
Bob vividly recalls his first few months and years in business, and the sleepless nights spent worrying as ROAR ran in the red and then struggled to break even before eventually finding success.
“The first time we reached $1 million in monthly sales was in October of 2005, after nearly two years in business, and I remember thinking ‘Okay, we’ve got something here’,” recalled Bob. “Now I see associates and offices giving back to organizations in their communities and I realize we’ve created a movement and it’s exciting. We went from losing money to breaking even to suddenly making money and being successful to being able to take care of our people, grow, and put money back into the community.”
Perhaps the most significant milestone in ROAR’s evolution was the construction of a 15,000-square-foot corporate headquarters at 535 Exchange Street in Buffalo, NY. On September 20, 2019, the final piece of steel was signed by Buffalo associates and hoisted into place with Congressman Chris Jacobs and Mayor Byron Brown in attendance.
“When our team entered the new corporate headquarters for the first time in 2020, I remember sitting in my office and thinking that after 16 years in business we had finally arrived,” said Bob. “I’m proud of what we created with that building because it encapsulates our culture. It’s sort of whimsical. Some people have said that it looks like a pile of ocean and rail containers. To me, it looks like progress, it looks like commerce.”
Today, ROAR employs 182 people with physical locations in Buffalo, NY; Rochelle Park, NJ; Chicago and Peoria, IL; Woodlands and Houston, TX; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; and most recently a new west coast truck operations in Chandler, AZ; as well as concentrations of remote associates in 10 states across the country. ROAR boasts $330 million in annual sales and is poised for growth, nationally and internationally.
“As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, I feel like we are truly on the cusp of exploding with possibility,” enthused Bob.
On the Horizon
Speaking of possibilities, Bob foresees continued investment and emphasis of ROAR’s westward expansion as a critical enabler of future growth. Currently the Chandler office’s freight volumes account for 20% of total company revenues and 29% of all truckload volumes.
“There is tremendous opportunity for growth on the west coast market,” said Bob. “Establishing a corporate office in Arizona was the first step to building our knowledge and customer base in that region. To expand our understanding of this growing market, and to provide leadership and support to this new branch of our business, I plan to relocate to Arizona in the next year to oversee the continued growth firsthand.”
ROAR will continue to focus on attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent, in Arizona throughout North America, as Bob fully expects that associates will continue to be the company’s greatest strength.
“The burnout potential in this industry is crazy,” acknowledged Bob. “To keep people engaged we must balance the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. We must appeal to associates beyond just pay and perks. We must continue to foster a culture and a sense of belonging. We must give them a career, not just a job. We recognize there is going to be turnover, but we do our best to be keep every associate. And when we lose an associate, we feel as though we fail them.”
To further the cultural mission, Bob recently engaged associates at all levels of the ROAR team in training focused on giving better feedback and improving the quality of communication to clearly outline expectations and accountability.
“We know how to move freight, so now the focus is on continuing to move each other in a positive direction together,” said Bob of his quest to further develop and maintain an inclusive culture. “ROAR is a place where our associates feel safe and comfortable. They feel like their opinions are valued and they are given the opportunity to contribute, to help paint their masterpiece.”
Throughout the year ahead, Bob and his leadership team will continue to seek ways to engage associates, particularly those working remotely, and formalize a two-way mentorship program.
Also Celebrating Anniversaries
A handful of longstanding ROAR associates are celebrating milestone anniversaries alongside the company this year, including Tony Barnes, 20 years; Scott Filipetti, 19 years; Thomas Deitrick, 18 years; Tim Mathien, 17 years; and Michelle Kary, 15 years.