Life does not always go the way we planned. Sometimes, you hit bumps in the road, and things go sideways. But, if you keep moving forward and never look back, one day you will hit the mark you were aiming for. Such is the case for Kevin Scarpete of Penngrove, CA. His road to success has not been pothole-free, but he has never given up or dwelt on the past. He just kept moving forward. A wise businessman once told him, “If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying – failure is just a part of the success equation. Just keep trying and you will eventually make it.” And Kevin has taken that advice to heart, and seen some recent success, which is evident by the small fleet of cool hay trucks he has assembled over the past few years – including the flashy one on our cover this month.
Born in October of 1973, Kevin Scarpete (43) grew up in a trucking family in the Petaluma area of northern California. His dad, Bill, started trucking in 1959, and got his own authority in 1962, and his dad’s step-father ran the local hay market in Petaluma and hauled hay. Naturally, Bill hauled a lot of hay, too, but eventually switched to livestock (cows and sheep) in the late 1960s, running all over the 11 western states. Kevin’s parents have been married since January of 1961, and are still happily married today – 56 years later!
Growing up, Kevin’s dad was always “thrifty” to say the least. His idea of the perfect truck was a single-stack Freightliner cabover with no chrome. Kevin always wanted him to buy conventionals, but his theory was that a hood was useless – after all, you can’t put any freight on it! Building up to nine trucks at his peak, Kevin and his brothers were in charge of all the cleaning and maintenance on the trucks. As Kevin put it, “He was too cheap to hire anyone, so we had to do it.” But, all that work taught him a lot. Kevin spent a lot of time riding with his dad and his older brother, Billy, and he got so good, when dad would hire a new guy that was still a little green, Kevin would go out with him to show him the ropes – at just 13 years old.
Not surprisingly, Kevin had no interest in school – he knew what he wanted to do, and school was only getting in the way. At 16, he quit school, got his CDL, and started hauling livestock. As long as he only hauled animals owned by his family and stayed in California, he was legal to truck, under a farm provision. Needless to say, his “family” owned a lot of livestock, and he did a lot of trucking at an early age. At 17, he took his first trip out of state, hauling a load of cattle to Utah. It was a bit of a scary trip for this young man, but he got it done. And then he never looked back!
Driving for his dad until 1996, he then got a job offer to deliver hay for a local feed store. This job had better pay and more home time, but it meant leaving his dad’s company. Having a young son at home at the time, Kevin liked the idea of staying local, so he took the job. It created a bit of a rough patch for he and his father but, admittedly, they both needed the break and it turned out good – eventually. Kevin worked there for about two years, and then got an offer to drive a Peterbilt (with a hood) hauling rock bands around, and he took it!
For the next year or so, Kevin hauled several different shows and bands, including the Grateful Dead, all over the United States and in every Canadian province. Returning home in September of 1998, he went back to work for his dad. A few months later, in January of 1999, Kevin bought his brother’s truck – a 1980 Freightliner cabover rail truck and trailer – and started hauling wood for Golden State Lumber, and Kevin Scarpete Trucking was born.
The following year, Kevin added a second truck (one with a hood) – a 1994 3-axle Peterbilt 379 – and a 45-foot flatbed. Hauling lumber with the two trucks, Kevin eventually cut the 3-axle down to a 2-axle, made it a hay truck, and began hauling hay. When the lumber company moved away in 2005, Kevin sold the cabover “rail truck” and began hauling hay full-time. His 379 was a nice truck, but after it blew up, he got rid of it and bought a 1983 Peterbilt cabover truck and trailer, which he ran until 2007.
At this point, partly due to the recession happening at the time, he decided to sell his truck and quit hauling hay, and went to work for Michael Dusi Trucking out of Paso Robles, CA. Dusi is famous for their cool trucks (we featured one of them on our October 2013 cover), and they mostly haul products for the wine industry, which, oddly enough, was not adversely-affected by the recession. While at Dusi, Kevin started feeling sick and was eventually hospitalized in 2009 with diverticulitis – a painful condition that affects the digestive system. When his condition worsened, he fell into a coma for 13 long days. Now fully recovered, he just has to watch what he eats, to make sure it never comes back, but things were pretty scary there for a while.
After his recovery, he went back to work for Dusi, and then went through another painstaking ordeal – a divorce from his first wife – which put him back to square one. Going back to work for his parents, a few months later he started a new relationship with an old family friend named Andrea (Andie). The two had known each other for most of their lives, and ended up getting married in September of 2012. A few months prior to that, Andie convinced Kevin to reinstate his authority and buy another truck, which he did. In November of 2011, he bought a 2001 Peterbilt 379 and went trucking on his own again. This truck, which is silver with red fenders, is still part of his current fleet.
In January of 2013, Andie’s father Ernie passed away and left behind a thriving business he had started in Penngrove back in 1978 called Aguiar Truck & Equipment. Wanting to keep it running, in his honor, Kevin and Andie took it over, and Kevin started running both the service truck and the repair shop. At that point, Kevin’s hay-hauling business was growing fast so he added another truck in June of 2013 – a 2007 Freightliner Columbia – and hired another driver. Two months later, he bought another truck – a 1992 Peterbilt 362 cabover 2-axle and a set of hay trailers. With so much going on, Kevin hired Brian “Yard Dog” Adams to run the repair shop, and then he got into the cabover.
The following year, in August of 2014, there was just too much going on for Kevin to drive anymore, so he hired Claudio Bencomo, who quickly jumped in the 379. Two months later, he bought another Peterbilt 362 cabover truck and trailer (a 1984), which he still owns today. With twin stacks, a Detroit Series 60 engine, a 13-speed, air-powered windows, a tilt wheel and cruise control, this was Kevin’s childhood dream truck – the truck his father would never buy for him. And, speaking of his dad, he retired at 75 years of age in 2014, and then sold his livestock trailers to Kevin. Since then, in addition to hay, Kevin has been hauling some cows again, too.
In February of 2015, Kevin hired another driver, Gavin “Junior” Driskill, and put him in the ’84 cabover. This now brings us to the truck featured on our cover (and these pages here). Bought through Mike Siezke at Boise Peterbilt in April 2015, this month’s cover truck was ordered all red (Peterbilt Red), with a red frame, and no extras, besides the interior, which was loaded. Once the 2016 2-axle Peterbilt 389 with a 550 Cummins, an 18-speed, a 36-inch sleeper and a car-hauler front axle arrived at the dealership, they installed nine cab lights, a 12 Ga. visor, air cleaner lights, cab and sleeper extensions with single-diode LEDs, Hogebuilt stainless quarter fenders, and an 18-inch square bumper. They also added a ride height switch (dump valve) for the front suspension.
After Kevin brought the truck home, he immediately took it to John’s Truck Repair in Cotati, CA where they added the Peterbilt Silver to the paint scheme, as per Kevin’s design. Later, Kevin added nine more of those small LEDs to the bottom of the bumper on each side, along with a rear steel light bar, which he built himself. Once Claudio saw the final product, he decided that he wanted to drive the new truck – and Kevin has not driven it since. For the first year, Claudio pulled a set of 2007 Utility hay trailers, but then Kevin had a set of totally-custom trailers built for it by Dentoni’s Welding Works, Inc. out of Stockton, CA. These 28’-6” hay trailers with cheaters, made to Kevin’s specs, were built from the ground-up, and feature matching paint, tons of LED lights and air-ride, which Kevin loves.
Still growing, Kevin added another truck just a few months after putting the red and silver one in operation. This addition was another 2016 Peterbilt 389, which is painted brown and cream, and was purchased off the lot at a dealership in Fontana, CA. Still not finished, Kevin recently ordered another new one, spec’d exactly like the cover truck, but in a different color (Autumn Wood with a red frame). This truck is almost ready to be put in service, and will also have a brand-new set of custom trailers built by Dentoni’s behind it. Kevin’s current operation now includes five trucks, primarily hauling hay throughout Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington, along with a few livestock loads here and there.
When asked about people to thank, Kevin couldn’t say enough about his partner, Andie. Along with being a full-time mom, she takes care of all the paperwork for the trucking operation, and helps run the shop (her father’s former business, which is still going strong). He is also very thankful for his two drivers – Claudio and Gavin – they are like family, and without them, the business just wouldn’t be the same. He also wanted to thank his parents, his father-in-law and his customers, as well as the folks at Circle Oak Ranch in Petaluma (especially Kari Farley), for allowing us to do the photo shoot on the grounds of their beautiful facility, which includes high-tech veterinary services and rehabilitation for horses, in addition to training some of the best “cutting horses” in the country.
Here’s a fun riddle: Kevin and Andie have five kids – three each. They each have two kids from previous relationships and one together. Get it? Justin (25) is Kevin’s oldest son; Butch (13) is Andie’s oldest son; Jenna (12) is Kevin’s daughter; Frank (10) is Andie’s younger son; and Fred (3) is both of theirs. Fred was named after Kevin’s uncle, who was his mom’s brother and his dad’s best friend. Uncle Fred died at the young age of 48 from cancer. But, blended or not, they are one big happy family.
When not playing with trucks, Kevin and the family race motorcycles (off-road enduro style). In fact, Scarpete Racing, which includes Butch, Jenna, Frank and Kevin, also sponsors two additional riders. The team has nine bikes, all Husqvarnas, ranging in size from 65cc to 300cc. Traveling most of the western states, pulling a 40-foot toy hauler trailer with a 12-foot garage in the back, just like Scarpete Trucking, Scarpete Racing is truly a family affair.
Kevin Scarpete has failed and succeeded, but he never gave up. Today, his trucking operation and truck service shop location are growing and flourishing. These days, his retired dad comes to the shop or the yard and hangs out pretty frequently, and Kevin likes it. Family is what drives this man to get up every day and face the challenges that come – and with trucking, they come. Trucks and companies come and go, but family is forever. And with a “refuse to lose” attitude, Kevin just keeps moving forward, and never looks back!