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Red Arrow Delivery Service, Inc. is the longest running delivery service in the tri-state area. Established in Evansville, Indiana in 1936, it is currently owned and operated by Tim Johnson.

Mr. Johnson and his father, Darwin, purchased the business in 1989. Tim was 23 years old and had enjoyed a route sales position with Best Coffee Service, Inc. Prior to that, he drove an ice truck in Panama City, Florida for a time after graduating from Evansville – Central. Darwin had become an accomplished millwright for the Whirlpool Corporation after his service in the US Navy.

During the Great Depression, Red Arrow Parcel Delivery, as it was called, was located at 522 Market Street, near the Evansville Memorial Coliseum.

The founder of the business, Robert W. Holdren ran Red Arrow during World War 2 and eventually sold the company, now Red Arrow Delivery Service, to Gus Shlulz.

Hildred Paxton, an Evansville resident and neighbor of Mr. Shulz had been driving a Krause Laundry truck since returning from the War. Hildred’s son, Ed, explains, “Dad bought Red Arrow on contract and moved the business to Herndon Street, across from St. Theresa Church. There, he converted a coal storage room into his office.”

Steve Paxton with Red Arrow Delivery Truck in 1955

During the Paxton era, Red Arrow delivered pharmaceuticals among other items for Charles Leich & Company. In the 1950’s, it was common for customers to have clothes delivered to their home from stores such as DeJongs and Kaiser Apparel. Bucyrus Erie, a large crane manufacturer on the west side of town, trusted Red Arrow to keep production on line when critical parts were needed in a hurry. Another long-standing relationship was had with Sears and Roebuck Company. Incidentally, the Evansville Sears store was the first Sears outside of Chicago. A deal that Mr. Paxton put together with Smith & Butterfield Office Supplies is still strong, some 50 years later.

Jim Jourdan (left) and Tim Johnson (right) in 2010

In 1970, Austin Cavanaugh had been managing The Tennessean Restaurant when he acquired Red Arrow. Notable customers in those days included Grainger Industrial and Glidden Paints. Mr. Cavanaugh had a good run for nearly 20 years until his passing.

Austin had presented the opportunity to his close friend, Darwin, to purchase the business, including the Read St. garage. Darwin in turn, offered his son a partnership. Upon taking a promotion with Whirlpool, Darwin stepped away from the company for a few years. But now, in semi-retirement, Tim and his father have the great pleasure, and good fortune, of working together again.

Darwin and Tim in 2012

Today, the familiar “old blue Red Arrow step vans” have given way to a varied fleet consisting of wagons, cargo vans, four wheel drives, and full size box trucks. After 76 years servicing Evansville and the region, Red Arrow is more capable and flexible than ever before. As the economy evolves, so must the businesses that move it. The couriers of today are no longer just ‘point A to point B’ drivers. They are an extension of the businesses that hire them, often integrating, and working alongside a client’s own employees. The Red Arrow driver of the new millennium takes care of business, so you don’t have to.


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