Interview: SCRA new president

29 April 2024

Incoming SC&RA president for 2024 to 2025 accepts annual appointment with open mind and heart. Mike Chalmers reports.

Incoming 2024 SC&RA president, J Rozum. (Photo: SCRA)

Amid a productive week of opportunity for all in attendance, SCRA’s Annual Conference also serves to recognise the beginning of a one-year term for the Association’s newest president. At this year’s conference, from 15 to 19 April, at the Omni Barton Creek in Austin, Texas USA, J Rozum, operations manager at MSA Delivery Service in Canton, Michigan, USA, will take the gavel for the 2024 term.

Like so many SCRA members around the world, Rozum’s career has taken shape within the family business – begun by his father and mother – where today, he oversees the day-to-day alongside his sister, Lisa, and both parents, Jerry and Marion, 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 thirty 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, Tennessee, and Laredo, Texas.

“My father worked in transportation for almost thirty years before going out on his own,” explained Rozum. “In 1992, having learned everything he needed to know and made enough connections to run his own business, he decided it was time to work for himself.”

Rozum’s mother, while not a part of the trucking industry like her husband, was nevertheless a crucial part of the new business. “She took over the financial side,” he noted. “It’s a classic blue-collar story. They saw an ad in the newspaper for the MSA sale, a mom-and-pop shop, and just bought the company and inherited the assets. Built the business out of our basement. They didn’t even change the name.”

Man and boy

Rozum grew up in the business, learning the value of a handshake and respect for one’s self and one’s people. “It’s how I am today, because it’s how I learned,” he said.

As incoming SC&RA president, Rozum is honoured to “pay it forward,” like so many that have come before him. He looks to this appointment as a way to inspire the next generation of SC&RA leaders. (Photo: SCRA)

As he came of age, Rozum’s parents didn’t pressure him or his sister to be any one thing. “I played sports – they 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.”

A self-described people person with a passion for relationship building, Rozum cherishes his time with family and loved ones above all else. Seen here with girlfriend, Jillian Calka. (Photo: SCRA)

He’d circle back to MSA on weekends throughout his college years and, on graduating, Rozum still didn’t know what he wanted to do but he did want to work. “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.”

From there, Rozum got to know the guys in the shop, the work, the equipment, and the ins and outs of running the family business. “I also learned from my mother on the financial side,” he pointed out. “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.”

Rozum graduated from Michigan University in 1998 and, within a few years of learning all-things MSA, had moved into 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,” he indicated.

From there he took part in two decades of productive growth for MSA. “We moved out of the basement,” he confirmed. “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 national, with three terminals across the country, and then international.”

Growth being what it is, some things didn’t change at MSA, according to Rozum. “More than anything, we didn’t change how we treated people – either the ones we worked with, or the ones working for us. That was instilled in both me and my sister as well, and today, my primary responsibility is for the hundred people I have working for me, and their families.”

Growing together

In addition to an assortment of SCRA members who embraced Rozum and took him under their wings, Rozum didn’t have to look far for inspiration over the years. “My parents, of course, and my uncle Alan as well,” he acknowledged. “He retired as an engineer and was very important in my life. But also, my sister. She’s our controller, and 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.”

The Rozum family: J and his sister Lisa (left), J’s parents Marion and Jerry (right). (Photo: SCRA)

It probably comes as no surprise that Rozum is a family man. “I’ve got four kids ranging in age from seventh grade to a second-year college student, who I’m super proud of,” he admitted. “I like the thought of them coming to MSA and becoming the third generation of this business their grandparents started but we [Rozum and his girlfriend Jillian] 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 he approaches this career milestone, Rozum is both humbled and inspired, and hopes it isn’t lost on the younger generation at SCRA. “I’ve been involved in the first timers’ reception in recent years, and I love to see the new faces,” he said. “I tell them, they’re going to be our replacements. But we all grow together. And 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.”

With that in mind, as he takes the gavel to close out the week at SCRA’s Annual Conference, Rozum will do it with both an open heart and mind. “I’m big on paying it forward – which is what so many SCRA members do, especially the ones in this position,” he assured.

“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. Additionally, 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 organisation and the people that make it possible.”


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