During the tougher times, some companies go out of business, liquidate their assets or downsize their operation. However, this is a story about how one man, during a time when construction companies saw the need to downsize, changed his focus from landscaping to heavy-haul work – and succeeded.
Lou De Berardinis was born in Stamford, CT on January 15, 1988 and moved to Orlando, FL in the late 1990s. In 2006, he started a business called Landscape Materials, doing landscaping and installations, using roll-offs and dump trucks. A few years later, in 2010, he bought his first semi and a lowboy trailer to do filler work when landscaping was slow. The filler work consisted of moving heavy equipment around for his father who owns Bedrock Industries, which is also located in Orlando. Not only was there a lowboy, but he also had a dump trailer that he used to haul sand and gravel, as well, for his dad’s company.
As Lou experienced moving heavy equipment, he saw the recession “trickle effect” occurring within the construction and trucking industry. Many construction companies were downsizing and selling off their semis and trailers because there wasn’t full-time work for them. Lou started receiving calls to move equipment, and by 2011, that is all he was doing. As most are aware, a heavy-haul company won’t solely haul for one company, but multiple companies, so the ability to have a truck moving full-time is attainable. For Lou and his company, that quickly became a reality. So much so, in fact, in 2013 a second truck and trailer were purchased, and today the thriving trucking operation continues to grow.
The semi is a 2006 Peterbilt 379 daycab that was originally yellow with purple flames (see “Before” photo), which was “spruced-up” and repainted in 2016 to a teal green and unveiled at the 75 Chrome Shop truck show in Wildwood, FL that same year. The truck was purchased from Shane Woods out of Fresno, CA. It has a 550-hp CAT C15 under the hood, an 18-speed Eaton transmission and a 3.70 gear ratio. This little beauty sports a Valley Chrome bumper, RoadWorks stainless-steel visor and 7” Dynaflex stacks with Pickett elbows and Chino tips. The truck rotates pulling a 2016 Landoll 440A and their newly-purchased 2018 Fontaine 60-ton detach. Jeremy Pitzer, a resident of Winter Park, FL, is the driver of this truck. Jeremy has been with the company for two years now.
Some of you may have noticed the different spelling of the company name on the truck’s door – was it a mistake? No, it was done on purpose! Lou’s great grandfather came over from Silvi, a small town on top of a mountain in Italy, to the United States. At that time, names were documented upon entrance to the United States. His great grandfather came in by way of Ellis Island, NY and an Irish officer is who met him and asked for his name. While spelling his last name, the officer thought he had stuttered and wrote down the name as he heard it, spelling it De Beradinis (instead of De Berardinis). This would remain the family’s documented last name until about a decade ago.
Taking a trip to Italy ten years ago, Lou and his father realized how many relatives were still in Silvi, and they were able to reconnect with many of them. The family gave Lou’s father a bit of a hard time, stating that it was a discredit to their heritage having their last name spelled incorrectly. This inspired Lou’s father to begin the lengthy process of changing their last name, legally, back to De Berardinis. Lou’s company, however, as previously stated, started in 2011. His buddies were jokingly giving him a hard time by asking if he was Greek with the “s” at the end of his last name, so, in an attempt to pacify them, he dropped the “s” and the company name, De Berardini Heavy Haul, still stands, even though it is also an incorrect spelling.
These days, the company mainly hauls within the state of Florida, with an occasional run to Georgia or Alabama. Providing their customers with honest, professional, heavy-haul services is what sets this outfit apart from the rest. The company currently has seven semis, a range of different trailers, one rollback and three hot-shot pickup trucks.
Lou resides in Orlando, FL and recently, on Christmas Day 2017, got engaged to his girlfriend, Savanna. When Lou is away from work, he enjoys his truck restoration projects alongside his father, Lou, Sr., and his dad’s cousin, JoJo Dzilinski. These projects include their popular 1972 Brockway, dubbed a “Connecticut Special” because of its shorter wheelbase (148 inches). This truck saw plenty of change at their hands to become the sleek antique it is today. Two other completed restorations are Lou’s 1929 Mack AK and his first truck, a 1969 Mack R600 steel nose. Currently, there are four restorations underway – a 1941 Mack FJ chain drive, 1939 Mack FK chain drive, one of the famous Turecamo Macks (a 1937 Mack AC with a Cummins diesel engine), and a 1987 Mack R600, which is near completion.
These projects have become a family venture that highlights the skills of all three men involved. Lou Sr. does the heavy work – frame stretching, fabricating motor mounts, cross-members, exhaust work, etc. JoJo has the patience and the skillset for the electrical, interior details and plumbing of the truck, while Lou Jr. assists in all facets of the restorations and handles the exterior accessorizing and details. In February of this year, the family hauled the unrestored Mack AC to the 5th Annual Antique Truck Club of America/Florida Chapter show, held during the 11th annual Historical Farmall Tractor Show at Paquette’s Historical Farmall Museum in Leesburg, FL. This same Mack AC, which has a very colorful history, also appears on the cover of the May/June 2018 issue of Double Clutch Magazine with a feature article inside.
No matter how you spell their last name – De Berardinis, De Berardini or De Beradinis – two wrongs do not make a right… but they do make for a funny story! Lou De Berardinis was able to do what many were not able to do at the time – capitalize on the recession and build a strong heavy-haul business, with a solid reputation, that is still on the grow today. And his head-turning 2006 Peterbilt 379 is a testament to that success. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Photo credit for the 379 in its original colors (yellow and purple) goes to Christopher Fiffie of Big Rig Videos, and the picture of the rare unrestored 1937 Mack AC was taken and provided by Jeff Lakaszcyck. Thanks to both for their contributions to this article.