A ballroom full of trucking industry leaders rose in applause at the Ritz Carlton last night for Rosedale Transport president and founder, Rolly Uloth, who received the prestigious 2021 OTA-Omnitracs Service to Industry Award.
The award, presented at the OTA’s 95th annual conference, pays tribute to an individual who, by their commitment, vision, leadership and unstinting service, has made an outstanding contribution to the development and success of the truck transportation industry.
“There is no higher honour that can be bestowed upon a member of the trucking industry than the Omnitracs-OTA Service to Industry Award,” Omnitracs VP Sales-Canada, Brendan Staub, said in presenting Rolly with the award. “Rolly is a man of integrity and has a passion for the industry he has served for many years. Family and friends who know him marvel at his work ethic and unwavering dedication to his company, employees and industry.”
Rolly was born in Guysborough, N.S. He met his wife, Mary, in high school. Together they moved from the Maritimes to Hamilton, Ont. to find work. He worked at Stelco for several years while he and Mary became superintendents of a small apartment complex, called the Rosedale Apartments. But after the Stelco strike of 1969, he and Mary decided to look into other opportunities.
“This is how we met, Barry Smith, his partner,” Mary recalls. “They were looking at buying this truck, but he didn’t really know if he wanted to get into trucking … and I remember telling him, ‘What’s the difference, we are young; we are 21 years old. Let’s take a chance.’”
And so they did. They adopted the apartment name for their new one-truck company, carrying mostly floorcovering supplies for two customers. The early years, as Mary describes them, were difficult. Rolly once had to put his watch up for collateral to pay for fuel. But with hard work and commitment, Rolly – a one man driver, dispatcher and freight salesman – would eventually grow his fleet in a regulated environment by slowly getting approvals, customer by customer, in the flooring supply sector.
“Ultimately for those customers, he redefined their businesses in the first 20 years. A lot of those customers would have had dedicated trucks. So, with him rolling in, it become a defining moment of turning a lot of those accounts into LTL accounts and saving them money,” says Rolly’s son, Ron Uloth, current VP of the company. “For those (customers) at that time, he would have been instrumental.”
Rolly and his family have since grown Rosedale into a fleet of 40 straight trucks, 500 tractors and 1300 trailers, with15 terminals across Canada, which are supported by over 600 employees.
“Rolly is a very humble man. He started from scratch in the industry and he also has tons of experience. He commands a lot of respect from people. He has a value system many of us would aspire to replicate,” says Serge Gagnon, CEO of XTL Transport.
A natural born leader, Rolly has been a vocal advocate for responsible trucking and one of the driving forces of many progressive improvements within the industry and the OTA.
Over the years, he has expanded his business interests into other sectors. He is a seasoned mining materials executive and is chairman of Amarillo Gold Corp., among other holdings.
“What’s unique about Rolly is he falls in the category of people in this industry who will likely rust out before give up,” says Mark Seymour, President of Kriska Transport. “He just never gives up working every day and supporting his people. That’s what makes him special.”