RTA began serving fleet managers in 1979, but the company’s true beginning occurred years earlier when Ron Turley was a young father and Korean War veteran. Ron started at the bottom rung, as a driver for UPS in 1961. Within five years he worked his way up to become the Automotive and Building Maintenance Manager in the brand new Georgia District. While there, he ran the best-performing district throughout the entire company. They had the fewest road calls and lowest cost of all UPS’ fleet management districts in the U.S.
Fast forward to 1973. After several promotions and reassignments, Ron was given responsibility for the maintenance of all UPS vehicles in the U.S., Canada and Germany – more than 48,000 in all. In the next five years, Ron would help UPS save $100 million in shop operating costs, allowing UPS mechanics to take care of nearly 80 percent more vehicles per man hour than they had been doing up to that point. He instituted time standards and innovative cost saving measures throughout the company’s maintenance operations until 1978.
At this point, RTA’s story begins, quite by accident. Ron left UPS and moved his family back to Phoenix. Ron received numerous requests from fleet managers needing help to improve their operations. As Ron’s popularity grew, he began to regularly deliver seminars around the country, in addition to his consulting jobs. Ron published his first book to offer at his seminars. Managing Fleet Maintenance was published in 1979, and three other books followed: Time Management, Preventive Maintenance Inspections and Operations and Safety. Through his books, Ron established and demonstrated how key reports help maintenance manager control costs. These reports formed the backbone of what RTA would become.
Birth of RTA
Early on, Ron recognized the importance and value computerized record keeping provided to shop managers. Ron knew that being able to record the data once and report it in a variety of ways would not only provide better insight into shop operations, but would save time and money delivering that information.
Ron hired two programmers to make his reports from his books into a software program that would empower shop users everywhere. With this decision, Ron and his wife, Dixie, founded RTA Fleet Management Software in 1979.
Ron’s son, Larry, joined RTA in 1982, while attending Arizona State University working towards his undergraduate degree in Computer Science Engineering. It was during this time that one of RTA’s first customers purchased the system: Chris Christian at Lehigh University. He recalls traveling to Phoenix to meet with Ron and Larry to demo the system. Chris believed in the product and message Ron and Larry presented and purchased the system. Lehigh University remains a loyal RTA client to this day.
Over the next three years, the software business became too much for Ron and Dixie to continue overseeing. Ron was on the road much of the time, continuing his consulting work. They moved operations in order for Larry to run and oversee. Larry purchased the company in 1985, and, as the only employee, began to build on the foundation established by his father. The paths of RTA and Ron Turley diverge at this point, though Larry sought his input on new features for several years to come. Ron hit the road with his books and vast expertise to form Turley Transportation Consultants, where he would further grow his reputation as a no-nonsense consultant with a drive for efficiency in fleet operations.
Ron ran that company until he semi-retired in 2001, 40 years after applying for a job as a driver at UPS. In the years since leaving UPS, he had delivered nearly dozens of seminars per year, visited hundreds of companies and met with thousands of individuals working on fleets of various shapes and sizes, all looking to capture a piece of Ron’s successful habits and procedures. Ron continued to leave his fingerprints on this great company by returning as a keynote speaker at several of RTA’s Annual Users’ Conferences.
In addition to building two companies, Ron also loved to build houses with his wife, Dixie. He built dozens of houses throughout Arizona, including one house for each of his four children. Ron built his last house on the island of St. Croix in 2001, just before retiring there. He passed away in 2011 after battling pancreatic cancer.
Larry Turley and RTA: Turning Ron’s Vision into Reality
Eventually the company grew and moved to a business park near Larry’s home. The company would move a few more times in the next decade as it continued to grow and expand. Since those humble days of just a few employees, the company has grown to its current location in Glendale, Ariz., and a staff of 36 full-time employees. Through the growth, RTA held its first annual users’ conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the help of a sponsor in the area.
In 2011, RTA was noted as being one of the top 3 fleet management software programs in use by government fleets, and in 2013, Larry had RTA poised for its next major pivot in the marketplace. Unfortunately, Larry was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in early 2014. Looking back over his three decades with RTA, Larry was the company. He set the tone for the culture. While none of the current employees were around in the very beginning, several have been with RTA for more than two decades. The average tenure at RTA spans almost 15 years. Larry’s employees believed in his vision and were loyal not only to him, but to their belief that RTA is one of the greatest companies to work for. He was extremely proud of the family atmosphere that percolated from his employees down through his customers, and for the relationships that he had the opportunity to build. He saw the business as an extension of his family and treated it as such.
With the longevity of RTA’s staff comes continuity as RTA bridges the gap to the next phase in its rich history. Larry’s wife, Kim, assumed ownership, and then in August 2017, Larry’s son, Josh (RTA’s CEO), and his wife Anjuli purchased RTA, making it officially a third-generation family company. Josh seeks to make Larry’s vision become a bigger reality and take the company to heights that he could not have fathomed, just as Larry did with his father’s legacy nearly 40 years prior.