This February, we remember the life and legacy of our founder John Ruan. He instilled our company with a respect for hard work, for integrity and for dedication to our customers. He treated his team members like an extension of his own family.
For a country that depends so heavily on trucks to keep its business moving, it is fitting that John Ruan moved his first load of gravel on July 4, 1932. That first truck was purchased with money gained from the sale of his family’s car. Within months, he turned that one truck into three, and just two years later, at the age of 20, he was running a fleet of a dozen trucks throughout the Midwest. Under Mr. Ruan’s leadership, Ruan was the first transportation company in the nation to adopt a formal safety program. Four full-time supervisors were hired in the mid-1940s to develop and train drivers in safe practices. Not only did he view safety as a moral imperative for the well-being of Ruan’s employees, he viewed it as a competitive advantage over his competition.
Today, the company he began with that one load of gravel in 1932 has 5,300 employees, 3,951 power units, 7,500 trailers and $807 million in annual revenue this past year. Safety continues to be a top priority, as evident in our propriety safety program, Megasafe.
Beyond the world of transportation, Mr. Ruan was renowned for his acts of philanthropy and dedication to feeding the world and funding research for multiple sclerosis (MS). Mr. Ruan's wife and daughter were both stricken with the disease, inspiring him to form the John Ruan MS Charity. Its golf tournament quickly became the largest one-day charity golf event in the United States. He also donated $2 million for the establishment of the Ruan Neurological Center at Des Moines’ Mercy Medical Center.
Another passion of Mr. Ruan’s—and his most lasting legacy—was feeding the world through his endowment of the World Food Prize. His gift of $10 million ensures that this prize for improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world will carry on indefinitely.
His memory left a lasting impression not only on his company and the transportation industry, but also the countless individuals who have benefited from his life’s work and philanthropy.