As we at 10-4 Magazine are celebrating our 25th anniversary, the folks at Lanting Hay in Ontario, California are celebrating their 44th! But both these businesses were built on the same principle: faith + hard work = success. From meager beginnings, Ron Lanting Sr. did everything he could to keep his four boys busy and out of trouble, which included starting a company in 1974 that bought and sold hay to their neighbors. From there, the family hay business spurned a separate freight company (Gardner Trucking) that saw enormous success in the trucking industry, culminating in a very lucrative buyout. But, Lanting Hay is still around and going strong – in fact, it never went away.
Ronald J. Lanting Sr. was born in 1936 and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He worked as a carpenter, but the winters were so harsh that business would slow down to the point of near starvation every year. So, in 1961, Ron and his wife Lorene, along with their two small boys, headed out west to California. They ended up in the city of Inglewood, where Ron took a job as a carpenter that paid $3.00 an hour (that was a lot back then). They later moved out to Cerritos and then to Riverside, where Ron opened a car wash. By now, the Lanting clan had grown to four boys – Ron Jr., Tom, Brad and Curt.
Raising four rambunctious boys was not easy and keeping them out of trouble was even harder. Looking to keep them busy, Ron found lots of things for them to do, like raising calves, yard work and sending them to work at the car wash. Starting out vacuuming cars, they later got “promoted” to steam cleaning, then drying, and then, eventually, to detailing. At 12 years old, Ron Jr. remembers making $1.16 an hour detailing cars, and making even more than that on tips! The Lanting boys have never been afraid of work, and they always did more than what was expected of them. Ron eventually sold the car wash and began pursuing other opportunities.
With about 100 heifers to feed, Ron began buying hay. In 1972, he met a guy who grew hay in San Jacinto, CA. Looking to get more hay and help this man move his product, without any experience in the trucking industry, Ron bought a gas-powered International 1600 with a 21-foot flatbed and then had a side-loader installed. Ron would drive this bobtail down to Perris with his two older boys (Ron Jr. and Tom), who would help load the hay, and then bring it back to their home in Riverside, where they would sell any excess to their neighbors, one bale at a time.
Before long they were selling a lot of hay, so six months later they bought another bobtail truck. As a joke, Ron Jr. and Tom painted the name of their fictitious operation, R & T Hay Company, on their vee boards. Dad did not see the humor in that and, shortly thereafter, he officially formed RJ Lanting Hay Dealer, Inc.
Ron Jr. and Tom both got their license and started driving at 16. Every day, after they got out of school, the boys would run the two bobtails down to Blythe or out to Perris to pick up hay and bring it back. They earned $100 a trip. The trips to Blythe were 200 miles each way and, with the loading time added, it took them roughly ten hours to make the run. The boys were always tired in the morning and often late for school because they were exhausted from the previous day’s trip. But they didn’t care – they just wanted to work and make money!
At some point it became evident they were losing money by deadheading to get the hay with empty trucks, so they began hauling freight out and hay back. Expanding quickly, they bought a couple Freightliner cabovers (a 1962 and a 1969) and a brand-new 1974 International Transtar II cabover truck and trailer (they still considered themselves to be hay haulers, not freight haulers). With that in mind, the outfit became Lanting Hay in 1974. As the business grew, the company eventually moved out of their home and into a yard in Chino, CA.
Hauling freight out of the port in southern California to places like Salt Lake City, Phoenix or wherever, the Lantings always found a load of hay to bring them back home, no matter where they ended up. Over time, this outgoing freight became the family’s main source of income and the hay became the back-haul, which spurned them to start a new freight division.
This freight division eventually broke away from Lanting Hay and became Gardner Trucking, which went on to became one of the largest freight companies in all of California, with multiple terminals and thousands of trucks and trailers. In 2016, the company was sold to CRST, but that is another story for another day.
In 1978, Ron Sr. bought Lanting Hay’s first new Peterbilt – a 352 cabover. The following year, he bought two more for his oldest boys. These 1979 Peterbilt cabovers were basically identical and had consecutive serial numbers. Ron Jr. and Tom drove these trucks for four or five years, hauling hay, but as the company grew, they ended up putting drivers in them. A few years later, with almost a million miles on it, Tom got mad when a driver dented his rig, so he took it away, put it in a hangar at a local airport, covered it with a tarp, and left it there. And that is where it sat for a long time.
All the Lanting boys worked in the family business at some point in their lives, driving trucks or loading hay (or both). Lanting Hay peaked, so to speak, in the mid-1990s, with about 10 trucks. Since then, the company has focused on using sub-haulers, and today has just one working truck (Ron’s 389 seen here in these pictures), along with two sets of trailers and about 14 sub-haulers. Ron Jr. himself still runs the operation and hauls hay every day, but he is planning to retire soon and pass the reins to his daughter, Laci (32), who currently works in the office with him.
Over the years, from time to time, Tom would start working on his cabover, wanting to restore it, but then he would run out of patience, money or time and put it back away. This went on for years. In the meantime, Ron Jr’s rig was rolled over by one its drivers and destroyed, so Tom took what he could from it for his truck. Ten years ago, Tom finally decided to finish the project, which took about eight years from there. The silver cabover you see here today is a combination of Ron and Tom’s first trucks, with a whole bunch of added extras!
Originally, the cabover was equipped with a Detroit 8V92, but today the truck is fitted with a 1,000-hp Cummins Big Cam 4 with twin turbos, hooked to a 13-speed transmission. During the rig’s extensive rebuild, every rivet was replaced, many of the body panels were rebuilt, and tons of parts were either chrome-plated or polished. These shiny pieces include the steering rod, pan, brake canisters, driveline, yolk, valve covers, all the air and water piping, the top and back of the transmission, motor mounts, tanks, visor, grab handles and steps, every bolt on the motor, and more. This show-only rig is a shining spectacle, for sure, and a perfect representation for our special “Chrome” anniversary edition.
Painted light silver with a dark silver engine, these colors were taken from past Lanting Hay trucks. Back in the day, the trucks were light silver with a dark silver top, so Tom used both the colors on his cabover during the rebuilding process. The entire rig was also rewired, a job that took three months to complete. The truck’s short wheelbase was to accommodate the length laws of the day, which were later changed. With no power steering and a cramped cab, the truck is not very comfortable to drive these days, but back in the day, the boys didn’t know any better. The project was “completed” two years ago, but Tom still has plans to do the interior. But, really, are these projects ever truly completed?
Ron Jr’s daily driver, seen in many of these photos and with the cabover, is a 2017 Peterbilt 389 2-axle with a 550 Cummins ISX, a 70-inch stand-up sleeper and a 265-inch wheelbase. Painted dark silver (the same as the engine on the cabover) with a black frame and fenders, the truck features 8-inch pipes with Chino tips and Pickett elbows, painted cab and sleeper drop panels, a 20-inch Valley Chrome bumper, a rear light bar and a chrome cover over the DEF tank. It also has stainless Hogebuilt quarter fenders, five bullet lights and four horns on the roof, extra boxes behind the fuel tanks and old-school spotlights. When hooked to its matching set of custom 28’-6” hay trailers from PT Welding, the combination has more than 250 lights!
Sadly, Ron Lanting Sr. passed away in November 2016, and then just over a year later, his wife Lorene of almost 60 years, passed away, as well. Dealing with these two losses so close together has been tough on the Lanting boys, but, oddly enough, it has brought them closer together. Ron Jr. has been running the hay company since 1988 – he took over when his dad got too busy building Gardner Trucking to manage both operations. From that point on, it has been Ron’s job to find the loads and keep the trucks running, which he has done impeccably.
Ron Lanting Sr. was a tough guy, but he never had to push his boys to work. In fact, sometimes he had to force them to stop working! The Lanting boys may have been called a lot of things over the years, but lazy was never one of them. Their dad taught them the “secret” to success – that faith and hard work, with a little love and support from your family, will give you success, however that is defined for you. We at 10-4 believe in those principles, as well, and hope this “secret formula” will give us 25 more years of success, too.