An early fleet of Ruan fuel tankers.

Ruan celebrates 90 years of service

July 20, 2022
Supply chain solutions provider founded by John Ruan in 1932 in Des Moines, Iowa, with one truck now boasts 4,000 power units, 10,000 trailers

Ruan Transportation Management Systems is celebrating 90 years of customized logistics and supply chain management solutions.

The company officially marked its 90th anniversary on Independency Day.

John Ruan founded the supply chain services provider in 1932 in Des Moines, Iowa, with one truck. Since then, Ruan has grown to include more than 5,000 team members and 300-plus locations, offering a full suite of third-party logistics (3PL) services to customers nationwide. The company runs 4,000 late-model tractors and a diverse fleet of 10,000 trailers, including bulk liquid foodgrade, dairy, and chemical tank trailers—and 12,000-gallon ‘super tankers.’

“When I think about Ruan’s future and the connections to our past, our ‘Guiding Principles’ (people first, safety focus, exceptional performance, customer satisfaction, and continuous improvement) are an enduring theme,” said Dan Van Alstine, Ruan president and chief operating officer. “These aren’t just nice-to-have words that we put on the wall; our team members live by them every day. These are core values that are central to who we are. As we move forward, we will draw upon the legacy and our long-standing core values to guide us.”

Ruan has grown by creating opportunities and navigating challenges, including advances in safety and technology, economic fluxes, supply chain disruptions, digitization of business, and transformation of America’s infrastructure, leaders say. Throughout these changes, Ruan has adapted to stay ahead of the curve, all while safely moving critical goods for valued customers and fostering a great place to work for team members.

Sustained success

Ruan was the first company in the industry to create a formal safety program and today leads the industry with its ‘Megasafe Safety Program.’ During deregulation of the trucking industry in the 1980s, many transportation companies (with similarly modest beginnings) either closed or sold out to larger companies, while Ruan held tight to its Iowa family roots. Ruan has always focused on creating opportunity for professional drivers and has remained a destination for the industry’s best drivers by continuously improving truck comfort and safety, creating predictable schedules, and offering work-life balance and family time.

“As we celebrate our 90-year anniversary at Ruan, I am truly proud of our history as a family business and the legacy created by our founder and sustained by his son, John Ruan III,” said Ruan CEO Ben McLean. “Our continued success will be enabled by the same grit and determination that they demonstrated to grow and build this company.

“While our industry has changed so much over the last 90 years, the honorable work that we do—keeping America’s economy moving—has not. And it never will.”

Grateful for the community that has supported him, John Ruan established the company’s headquarters in downtown Des Moines, championed the construction of the Marriott Hotel, laid the groundwork for the skywalk system, and invested in beautification efforts—all of which contributed to the revitalization of Des Moines.

Philanthropic spirit

As one of his greatest legacies, John Ruan endowed the World Food Prize, and his son, John Ruan III, created a permanent home for the prize by leading the restoration of the old Des Moines Public Library. Today, the World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing excellence and progress in overcoming global food production and distribution challenges while inspiring new generations to embrace the cause.

To celebrate Ruan’s philanthropic legacy and the company’s milestone anniversary, the company launched a 90x90 Acts of Giving campaign, which encourages Ruan teams across the country to collectively complete at least 90 acts of giving in support of local nonprofit organizations by the end of Ruan’s 90th year. At the end of the year, a number of these organizations will be selected to receive 90th anniversary monetary donations.

Throughout the country, Ruan team members will recognize the 90th anniversary locally with family members and customers, organizing cookouts and family events to build camaraderie and celebrate 90 years of providing exceptional value and performance.

“Since the beginning, Ruan has set the standard for its commitment to providing safe, efficient, and professional transportation solutions,” said Brenda Neville, president and CEO of the Iowa Motor Truck Association. “Ruan has also been consistent in its dedication to giving back to the community and the State of Iowa in ways that have touched, influenced, and changed countless lives. The Iowa Motor Truck Association has been one of the many beneficiaries of Ruan’s support, and we are forever grateful for and appreciative of our strong partnership and friendship with Ruan and its amazing team of professionals.”

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BT staff