Bolte, BDP International founder, dies
Richard J. Bolte Sr., founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Philadelphia-based BDP International, died Wednesday morning from an infection following a recent illness. He was 72.
Born in 1934, Bolte graduated from Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia. After military service in Alaska during the Korean War, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration by taking night classes from LaSalle University. During the day he worked for a small Philadelphia firm facilitating exports, and in 1966 formed R.J. Bolte Co. Through a series of mergers, the company became BDP International in 1972.
Bolte is best known for his push to automate the freight forwarding industry. BDP was one of the first companies in the field to implement electronic data interchange systems.
Under Bolte’s leadership, BDP also became a primary logistics services provider to many of the chemical manufacturing giants. In May, the Chemical Heritage Foundation gave Bolte its first award for supporting the industry’s global expansion.
BDP began a phased succession several years ago with the company’s management team assuming increasing responsibility for both its long-term strategy and day-to-day operations.
In addition to his business activities, Bolte spent the past 30 years raising and breeding race horses. He was appointed to the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission in 2004. He also served on the board of trustees at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., and on the board of the Seamen’s Church Institute in Philadelphia.
“Self-made in the finest American tradition, my father was an astute businessman, civic leader, philanthropist, and husband,” said his eldest son and BDP President Richard J. Bolte Jr. in a statement.
Bolte is survived by his wife Patricia, and seven sons, all of whom work for the company in various management positions, in addition to 24 grandchildren.