The company was incorporated as C.H. Robinson Company in 1905 in the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota, as a produce and general merchandise brokerage firm. After several years, Robinson expanded their business to address the complex problem of how to transport and distribute perishable products before they spoil by horse and buggy.
In 1968, the company entered the regulated trucking business with a contract carrier known as Meat Packers Express, and later created ROBCO Transportation as an irregular route carrier. Robinson became wholly owned by its employees in 1976. In 1978, The Fresh1® brand was introduced for Robinson’s produce brokerage business. Robinson bought its first IBM mainframe in 1979, which began an era of centrally supported technology, electronics communications and information sharing.
The passage of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 deregulated transportation, allowing C.H. Robinson to act as a freight brokerage for any type of product. In 1986, ROBCO was divested and Robinson became a completely non-asset based logistics provider. The company went public on October 16, 1997 as C.H. Robinson Worldwide (NASDAQ: CHRW).