Sitting down with incoming SC&RA president

22 April 2024

J Rozum, operations manager at MSA Delivery Service, will serve as the 2024-2025 Association president.

Each year, the SC&RA Annual Conference serves as the beginning of a one-year term for the Association’s new president. J Rozum will fill that appointment for 2024, and will take the gavel from outgoing president Scott Bragg at the Closing Night Awards & Recognition Dinner on April 19, at the Omni Barton Creek in Austin, TX.

J Rozum, 2024 SC&RA President, Operations Manager, MSA Delivery

Rozum is the Operations Manager at MSA Delivery Service, headquartered in Canton, Michigan, where he oversees the day-to-day of the family business alongside his sister and both parents, longtime SC&RA members Jerry and Marion Rozum, who are still very much involved.

Rozum has been connected to MSA since 1992, when his parents acquired the company, along with its five van trucks and five drivers. More than 30 years later, he now manages a fleet of more than 50 trucks, 250 trailers and around 100 employees operating out of Canton, as well as locations in Nashville, TN, and Laredo, TX.

Rozum recently discussed his life in the family business, the people who have shaped his approach to work and leadership and his commitment to making the most of the time and experiences you get.

Your father worked in transportation for almost 30 years before going out on his own.

He did. But in 1992, he took a risk and quit his job. He’d learned everything he needed to know to run his own business by then, knew enough people, and decided it was time to work for himself. He’s always told me that you only get rewarded if you take risks.

Your mother was also a part of the new venture.

While she was never into trucking – she took over the financial side. It’s a classic blue-collar Detroit story. They saw an ad in the newspaper for the MSA sale, a mom-and-pop shop with a low DOT number. They bought the company and inherited the assets. Built the business out of our basement.

What did you learn as the business grew up around you and became part of your lives?

Well, my father was always a handshake guy – big on respect for the people you work with and for. It’s how I am today.

My parents drilled that into me and my sister as we were growing up in the family business.

As for growing up, what were those early years like for you?

I played sports – baseball, soccer, hockey – my parents let me figure things out. I ended up going to University of Michigan and attempted to focus on engineering. But I just couldn’t get into it. So I graduated with a general business degree.

J Rozum, at the recent SC&RA Symposium in Houston, believes that members truly get out of SC&RA what they put in.

How did you end up gravitating back to the family business?

Well, I would help out on weekends all during school – working on trucks, helping with paperwork, all of it. I enjoyed the logistics process, the delivery side. And a light bulb sort of went off at some point. After graduating, I really didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I did want to work. So, I showed up and asked my dad where my office was. He said, go get your dirty clothes, you’re in the shop. And that’s where I worked for the next three years.

Which couldn’t have been entirely unexpected, yes?

Oh, I totally understood. It allowed me to get to know the guys and what they do every day. Got to know the equipment, all of it. I also learned from my mother on her side. She was a psychology major as well, so she taught me a lot about growing as a person and connecting with people. Which eventually led to one of my personal mantras – faith, family and friends – treat people with respect, how you want to be treated.

When did you start to assume more of a leadership role at MSA?

I graduated college in 1998, and probably the early 2000s, I started in more of a leadership role. I just had to get the respect of the guys I was working with – many of whom were older than me. Had to earn my stripes.

You got to be a part of significant growth after that. How did some things change, and some things stay the same?

Well, obviously we grew physically – adding equipment and locations as time went by. Moved out of the basement, of course. Our work was heavy on the automotive side, being so close to Detroit. Little by little, we made more money, and put it back into the company. Before you know it, we’re international, all forty-eight and Mexico, with three terminals across the country.

Some things, however, didn’t change. Mainly, how we treat people and honor our relationships. I want it to be a place where people want to work every day – which was instilled in me and my sister by my parents. My daily responsibility is for the 100 people I have working for me, and their families.

Rozum applied his industry expertise as a judge at the eagerly anticipated Hauling Jobs of the Year Competition.

In addition to your parents, what mentors have you had along the way. And what did you learn from them?

My Uncle Alan pushed me early on to be in the engineering field, especially at Ford. He retired as an engineer there. While it didn’t work out quite that way, he was very important in my life. My sister Lisa, our controller, is also an inspiration for me. I can say that without her, I’d be nowhere. She runs the business side of the company, insurance, etc. I’ll dabble, but she takes care of that side, and I take care of my side. Together, we emphasize the family aspect of it all. My mother and sister still give out birthday cards to every employee.

That’s really special – and makes me wonder if MSA has the same struggles with workforce that the overall industry is dealing with?

Honestly, it’s hard to say, because I’m not looking to get bigger. I want to be the best. And we’ve got pretty much zero turnover with our employees. I don’t hire people just to hire them. I look for quality people that want to be a part of what we have here. However, ten, twenty years from now, for sure, if/when we don’t have anyone to hire, then yes, it’s going to be a challenge. There will just be less and less people coming into the industry.

Speaking of the overall industry, and SC&RA as a result, how involved were your parents in the Association, and when did you become involved?

My mother was actually the historian of the Ladies Group, and started the Foundation (SC&RF), which raised $50,000 in its first year. As a kid, I’d always get stuck at my grandmother’s house because my parents would come to these functions and have all the fun. My dad never went through the chairs but he certainly came to many of the meetings. That said, he brought me to my first one in the 2000s, and I just loved the networking and the people I met. Over the last 20 years, it’s been incredible – the relationships I’ve developed.

A consummate networker, J Rozum is pictured at a recent meeting with Tradelossa’s Carlos Matthey.

Who has inspired you along the way within this larger group?

How much time do you have? So many names and faces come to mind. But one more than most: Doug Ball. He would always encourage me to get involved. Talk me through the process – who and what I needed to know. He ultimately pushed me through the chairs, as well. But, Jay Folladori. Terry Young. Great men. And Joel Dandrea, a great friend who has helped pave the way for me. On the trucking side, Ron Montgomery. Jim White. And so many others. My parents taught me the value of people – relationships. I think that’s why I connect to so many people in SC&RA. It’s a family. People go out of their way to help you. You get to know them on personal levels. They check in on you. Look out for you. I’m blessed and proud to be a part of it.

On a personal level, what does family life look like when you’re not working?

I’ve got four kids. Jaden, a sophomore at University of Michigan; Lily, a senior in high school; Logan, a sophomore in high school; and Chase is in seventh grade. I’m super proud of all of them; they’ve kept me busy with school and social lives, as well as all the sports they’re connected to. When I’m not in the office, you’ll find me on a baseball diamond coaching. That said, my girlfriend Jillian helps me keep my life in line with work and family – as it gets more challenging every year. I’m truly blessed with all the support I receive from family, friends and peers.

With girlfriend Jillian Calka, J Rozum is a self-described people person with a passion for relationship building. Rozum cherishes his time with family and loved ones above all else.

Do you think about some or all of your kids carrying the torch at MSA?

I like the thought of them coming to MSA and becoming the third generation of the business their grandparents started. But we don’t put any pressure on them. I want them to explore and find themselves, and to understand that it’s okay to fail. It’s how you learn and get better. The door will always be open at MSA if that’s what they choose to do. But I’m most happy if they’re being genuine and authentic, true to themselves.

As you approach this milestone, what would you tell younger members looking to you for guidance?

I’ve been involved in the First Timers’ Reception in recent years, and I love to see the new faces. I tell them to come talk to us – they’re going to be our replacements. They should know that we all grow together. SC&RA puts everyone in the same place – different niches, industries, disciplines. You get out of this what you put in. But perhaps more than anything, they’re going to establish lifelong friendships – people they can call any time, day or night, all over the world.

The Rozum family: J Rozum and his sister Lisa (left), parents Marion and Jerry (right)

What does it mean to you to take the gavel?

It almost gives you goose bumps to think about it. Extremely humbling and rewarding. I’m big on paying it forward – which is what so many SC&RA members do, especially the ones in this position. Again, I hope the young people see it, and take something positive from this experience. It’s the leaders today that address the challenges of our time. I hope one big thing I can do with this appointment is inspire young people to follow a similar path. In this next year, I want to be open for engagement. Come talk to me, come teach me, tell me about yourself. I want to work together with the best people in this industry, and while we’re at it, help build another year of success for this great organization and the people that make it possible.

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