RDS came into existence to save a dear friend’s job. In 1981 Judi Girard Stefflre’s close friend David Pluimer was working for a small intermodal trucker that was going out of business. Judi had recently left Safeway Stores and was looking for something interesting to do and Greg Stefflre was an experienced transportation lawyer with specific expertise in the recently deregulated interstate trucking market. So, we took over a terminal and some customers from David’s failing employer and started RDS on December 15, 1981.
We started with six trucks (owner-operators) and a four-door dock located in Alhambra, CA. We enlisted Greg’s cousin, Marty Stefflre, to write a computerized billing and driver payment program which he accomplished very quickly. Marty also had a friend (Stewart Earnest) who had invented a CPM based personal computer (Stratos) and we purchased the first model to run Marty’s programs at RDS.
Greg got an operating permit from the Interstate Commerce Commission and created RDS as a California general partnership. Judi’s best friend, Sharon Brooks, joined the company and became our dispatcher. David was the owner-operator recruiter and manager and handled our freight dock. He also dispatched part time. So, pretty much from day one, the RDS partners were David, Judi, Sharon, Marty and Greg. In 1991 RDS was incorporated as a California “C” corporation with the partners becoming shareholders.
For the next twenty-four years, RDS continued to grow, moving from Alhambra to Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles to La Mirada and finally building our custom designed terminal in Fontana in 2005. Our fleet size grew from the initial six contractors to a fleet of 126 in 2017. Our railroad intermodal business remained our main activity until we built our Fontana facility at which time we took on warehousing, transloading, consolidation and dedicated fleet customers.
In 2003 David passed away and in 2017 Marty joined him. In 2001 Greg’s daughter Erin Stefflre-Garcia became a partner and in 2014 we added a close industry friend, Dave Porter, as a partner. In 2016 Dave became our Chief Executive.
Currently, Judi is Chair, Greg is Vice-Chair, Dave is CEO, Sharon is President and Erin is Vice-President. Functionally, Dave manages overall corporate activities and remains our principal commercial officer; Sharon manages all our activities other than Intermodal (which is managed by Anthony Chavira). Greg handles legal and risk management and Erin manages contractor recruitment, retention, safety, equipment, security and our facilities. Paul Leone is our CFO and Denice McManigal our IT Manager, supervising a team of five designers and developers.
RDS hasalways been both a transportation and technology company. Our original dBase invoicing system from 1982 continued to evolve and move to more modern languages and platforms over the years. In 2017, RDS took another leap forward with a newly designed and developed system that operates on the most stable and reliable platform available. This platform is fully compatible with all current technology including artificial intelligence and utilizes truck based geo-positioning to calculate shipment status and the potential for service interruptions. This proprietary system incorporates desktop, mobile, cloud, and advanced in-cab telematics.
For the past 35 years RDS has operated the most advanced transportation delivery management software that exists in our sphere of operations. We have for decades, gathered geo-positional data from our road trucks allowing us to anticipate delays and make corrections on the fly. RDS was on the World-WideWeb at the very beginning and had a sign on its domain page “Welcome, we’ve been waiting for you!” prominently displayed. It took a while, but we eventually got visitors.
As the Internet evolved RDS added WebTrak – a resource where customers could see, in near real time, where their freight shipments were in the delivery or shipping cycle including the drivers present location and speed.
RDS currently uses automated electronic communicationswith customers and drivers to improve transparency, accuracy, efficiency, and to facilitate near real time delivery of shipment status and documents (BOL, POD, etc.).
RDS has, from its very beginning, worked exhaustively in the intermodal industry to improve processes, encourage best practices, create cross-modal equity and generally increase the maturity and professionalism of intermodal trucking.
To that end, RDS partners have held top positions in the Los Angeles Traffic Club, the California and American Trucking Associations, and the Intermodal Association of North America. Judi and Greg jointly were awarded IANA’s highest honor – the Silver Kingpin Award in 2005. Greg was the industry author of the intermodal equipment interchange governing document – the Uniform Intermodal Interchange Agreement and served on its Executive Committee from 1990 until 2010.
Today, we are a closely-knit group of professionals who excel in what we do every day. Our goals remain the same as when we started – to deliver freight safely, on time, and intact each time - while creating a work environment that values the individual – whether employee or contractor – and strives to reward them emotionally, intellectually and financially at the highest possible levels.
We are quite proud of the fact that we have very low employee and contractor turnover and that our customer base is stable. That we have continued to grow our business with our largest five customers nearly every year for the past decade is testimony to our ability to consistently perform to each customer’s unique needs. As one of our contractors said not long ago “RDS is a big company that acts small.” Perhaps we are most proud of that, since we truly want to always be able to compete with the big boys while remaining flexible, accommodating, and accessible to our employees, contractors and customers.
With great new senior management in place, a modern and efficient facility, a fully up-to-date information management system, and a strong financial base we are prepared for the next two decades of growth. We invite you to join us.