Ronald “Pops” Lhotak, CEO of Reliable Transportation Specialists Inc. (RTSI) and an influential figure in trucking, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 18, the company announced. He was 68.

Lhotak was a co-founder along with his son Kevin Lhotak of the Chesterton, IN-based company, which opened its doors on April 1, 1986, with five trucks operating out of the Detroit area. Under Lhotak’s guidance, the company grew to more than 350 trucks and owner-operators and gross revenues of $42 million. RTSI has 60 employees.

“Ron has always been the heart and soul of the company; making all of us feel we were his family member, not just an employee,” said Michael Parise, director of international business development for the company.

RTSI specializes in intermodal drayage to and from Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta and also serves the ports of Savannah and Charleston. The company operates throughout the continental U.S. as well as the
Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Lhotak’s impact was felt throughout trucking through memberships in the Intermodal Assn. of Chicago; Detroit Intermodal Assn.; American Trucking Assns. (ATA); Illinois Trucking Assn.; Indiana Motor carrier Trucking Assn.; Ohio Trucking Assn.; and Intermodal Assn. of North America.

He was also part of the Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC), which is part of ATA. The IMCC received its first big support from Lhotak and his company. According to Andrew Bozak, director of operations at RTSI, the conference was originally a committee with just six members.

ATA’s Bill Frasier wanted to turn the committee into a conference, but needed to increase membership to do so. Frasier approached RTSI for support, but Lhotak was originally not interested. However, after meeting with Frasier, Lhotak threw his support behind the idea and wrote a check to support the effort. The conference now has over 600 members and Lhotak’s son Kevin currently serves as second vice chairman.

Born in Evergreen, IL, on Aug. 14, 1943, Lhotak married Virginia Thedens, who survives him, on Aug. 15, 1964.

He is also survived by his sons, Kevin Lhotak of Valparaiso, IN, and Kraig (wife, Jennifer) Lhotak of Chesterton, IN; daughter, Kim (husband, Miles) Nilson of Chesterton, IN; grandchildren, Kris, Kraig Jr., Heather, Adam, Danielle, Sarah and Braiden; brother, Dennis (wife, Nancy) Lhotak of Naperville, IL; nephew, John (wife, Michelle) Lhotak of Salt Lake City, UT; niece, Kathy Lhotak of Naperville, IL; and many cousins. Ronald was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Anne Lhotak.

Memorials in Lhotak’s name may be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 11454, Alexandria, VA 22312. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.EE-FH.com.