In 1983, Interstar Fleet Services began humbly in a small basement helping local trucking companies and, 30 years later, has grown to a corporation providing nationwide services to thousands of fleet customers. The company has employees strategically positioned throughout the United States but has always maintained its retreading facility and corporate headquarters in northern Kentucky.
"Many thought we were crazy," said John Shortridge, founder and CEO of Interstar, "and that our ideas would never work. I'm proud to say they were wrong. In fact, we proved to be such a benefit to our early customers that our business grew like wild fire." Formerly known as SRECO, the company pioneered emergency breakdown service for trucking companies across the Midwest.
By the spring of 1984, the original three founders (John Shortridge, Ed Salyers and Terry Brann) were drowning in a sea of paper from the rapid growth of their new company and needed to add a new employee. As fate would have it, Interstar's first hire was Rodney Goderwis. Rodney, who had graduated from Walton-Verona High School, began working for the startup venture while earning Accountancy and Business Administration degrees from Thomas More College. He played a pivotal part in the growth of the young company and now serves as Interstar's President and part-owner.
"Our business looks a lot different today than it did 30 years ago, but our core principles and values have never shifted," said Rodney. Unlike competitors, many of which have come and gone, Interstar has thrived in an ever-changing industry through innovation. John Shortridge recalled, "We started with paper maps, land line phones and handwritten correspondence. I can still remember investing in our first high-tech communication device in 1987—a fax machine!"
Fast forwarding to 2013, Interstar expects to handle over 150,000 events this year and relies on cutting edge technology to stay successful. The company is rolling out communication software which can ping a truck driver's cell phone to quickly and accurately determine the breakdown location. One Interstar repair coordinator commented, "Sometimes a driver breaks down on the side of the highway and they don't know exactly where they are. From thousands of miles away, I can instantly pinpoint them on a map and help them get back on the road quickly."
Last year, on the eve of the 30 year milestone, Interstar underwent a complete rebranding with the adoption of new service names, logos, tagline and website. Rodney Goderwis explained "Our rebranding represented our coming of age as a full-service fleet management company. We provide comprehensive solutions that fleets cannot find anywhere else." Interstar's four distinct service lines include Trailer Maintenance, Breakdown, Towing and Retreading.
When asked to reflect on Interstar's long history, V.P. of Administration and part-owner Sandy Holbrook said, "I think of our employees and their families. Many people in the tri-state area have started and spent their careers here. We are proud to have watched many of our employees get married, start families, buy their first homes and even retire from Interstar." It hasn't always been smooth sailing for Interstar, however. "In this occasion, we also remember employees that have passed away through the years." In September 1985, tragedy struck the young company before finishing its second year. Ed Salyers, a founder and key executive, lost his life in a car accident.
When asked if the company could make it another 30 years, John Shortridge said, "There is no doubt. We have a wealth of young talent, an unmatched management team and opportunities around every corner. I've never been more excited about where we are heading!"