The 2022 Logistics Provider of the Year weathered a worldwide pandemic, growing in both revenue and reach. Despite all-time high transportation rates and tight capacity, RLS Logistics maintained experienced +12.5% growth in revenue YoY amid nationwide shutdowns in 2020.
In 2021, the New Jersey-based company experienced a boom in business due to the country reopening and demand for logistics surging, experiencing a +50.2% increase in revenue YoY. The company has seen +25.3% increase in revenue so far this year, said Russell Leo, CEO.
“First of all, on behalf of the entire RLS family I would like to say thank you. This is quite an honor,” Leo said. “This award means a lot to us because it validates all of the hard work and dedication our team members bring to work each and every day.”
For over 50 years, customers have trusted RLS to manage their frozen and refrigerated supply chains. The company is consistently listed on the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW) North American Top 25 List of the largest refrigerated warehousing and logistics providers. With 16 locations nationwide, customers benefit from flexible and custom-tailored cold storage warehousing, transportation and direct-to-consumer fulfillment services. With four fulfillment centers in New Jersey, Utah, Kansas, and Texas, RLS can reach 31% of the U.S. population in one-day ground shipping and 98% in two days.
Growth & Expansion
RLS Logistics, and its affiliate RLS Partners, announced a national expansion plan in 2020, aimed at strategic acquisitions and partnering with existing family-owned operators in the 12 U.S. megaregions, Canada and Mexico.
The RLS acquisition model is unique, Leo says, because it preserves the acquired companies' culture, leadership and name.
“The differentiator is that the family stays on board after we acquire them. This enables us to continue to satisfy their employees and customer base at each location. We are also able to provide them with capital and back-office support,” Leo said.
Leo credits his brother, Anthony “Tony” Leo, who died last year at age of 46, with developing the partnership program.
“We lost him to cancer so we’re trying to continue on his vision,” he said.
RLS welcomed its first partner, Scranton, Pennsylvania’s RLS Gress, in 2020. In addition to RLS Gress, RLS partnered with a regional operator in New England to develop a state-of-the-art 83,000-square-foot cold storage facility, now known as RLS Complete, with a grand opening planned this fall.
In the past 18 months, RLS has successfully expanded into half of the megaregions and added four more warehouse partners, two of which included new cold storage builds. The additions of RLS Alliance (Southern California), RLS Performance (Utah), RLS Premier (Texas), and RLS Hutt (Michigan) have increased the company’s total cold storage capacity by over 32 million cubic feet, an increase of +126% since 2021.
In April, RLS Logistics opened a new frozen food order fulfillment facility in Kansas City, Kansas, with more regions expected to be added through 2023. The company currently offers over 55 million cubic feet of cold storage space and counting.
The reduction of waste and improvement in efficiency is one of RLS’ primary goals and is committed to ensuring any new facility built has low-energy consuming CO2 refrigeration systems, eliminating the use of ammonia and Freon. Currently, the Delanco, New Jersey, Burleson, Texas, and Sturbridge, Massachusetts locations have systems supporting this initiative.
Solar fields are the primary source of power at our New Jersey facilities, accounting for 54% of power generation. RLS installed solar panels on the roofs of its Vineland and Newfield, New Jersey buildings.
The company uses high-density pallet racking when possible, like at its Delano building, which stores 42% more products within the same carbon footprint when compared to traditional racking. All RLS facilities have motion-censored LED lighting and energy management programs.
And through its partnership program, RLS strives to work with like-minded logistics providers.
For example, RLS Hutt in Michigan is an EPA Smartway partner, earning High Performer for the fifth year in a row, ranked in the top 10% of Smartway partner companies in fuel efficiency. More than 50 RLS Hutt’s trailers have solar panels on the roof, limiting the need to replace batteries.
Technology & Tradition
Leo attributes part of RLS’ success to combining an “old school” mentality of customer service with a user-friendly technology experience. The company created an in-house business intelligence customer platform, anello, which provides customers with real-time inventory control, just-in-time order management, productivity tracking, document retrieval and customized reporting. The robust technology platform allows our customers to customize dashboards to view KPIs that will drive better business decisions.
“Anello means link or ring in Italian. It links customers’ data together in one platform they can use,” said Ron Pack, vice president of technology. “We’re working on the ability to schedule appointments for cold storage and we are always looking for ways to improve our customer experience through technological advances. Last year, we launched the Less Than Truckload (LTL) rating tool within our customer platform. The rating tool allows our customers to quote out LTL shipments within seconds. They can also view all past quote request history and download a report on past quotes.”
The company is working on phase two of the rating tool, which will allow customers to place orders once they receive the quote in the tool, all with the click of a button. Another advancement in the works is the RLS Carrier Portal, which will act as a load board as well as a carrier rating system. Carriers can earn points to get priority on shipments and other perks, Pack said.
Safety & Culture
RLS facilities have been certified through the British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCGS) since 2014. BRCGS is one of the most highly regarded certification programs identified by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). To attain certification, the cold storage warehouse receives a third-party audit of everything from quality management and risk analysis to building standards and vehicle operations.
New RLS Partners must become BRCGS certified, if not already, and implement the company’s food safety strategies.
Charitable initiatives include the American Heart Walk, Volunteers for Veterans and Food Cowboy. The company’s 400 employees are offered PTO hours to volunteer at the nonprofit of their choice. Other benefits include a tuition-reimbursement program and the Leo Academy, where team members spend a full semester learning about specific areas of the logistics industry and management courses to improve overall business acumen.
“The future looks very bright – we plan on remaining a family business and look forward to serving our team members and customers for another 50 years,” Leo said.