I was introduced to the H.W. Farren Co. a couple of years ago when my friend Pete Briggs was hauling oversize loads for them. Their trucks and drivers were loading (and sometimes unloading) at the same places. But, since Pete has gotten his own authority now (we’ll talk about that in an upcoming article), I’ve started working with Joe Antonucci for all of the paperwork that goes along with hauling loads for the company. Recently, I went out with Pete and we ended up at the company’s main office and yard located in Randolph, NJ. As soon as we got there, I got to meet Joe, and I immediately saw the story that was there!
Joe’s grandfather Frank Antonucci and his Uncle Philip Antonucci bought the H.W. Farren Trucking & Rigging Company in the 1970’s and incorporated the business in March of 1981 – and the sky has been the limit (literally) ever since. Hauling oversize loads, rigging and doing millwright work were their specialties for many years, but later they got into helicopter hauling and this is now one of their main services.
It was 1989 when Glenn Wargo joined the company and it really “took off” – not meaning that it wasn’t already successful, but Glenn brought his diverse background in the airline business to their trucking company. A request to move his own sailplane launched a division of Farren that is now recognized as the industry leader for moving helicopters. After Glenn’s request came another and another that led to the opportunity of transporting huge Sikorsky SH-70 Sea Hawk helicopters for export.
Designing and modifying a trailer to specifically haul the Black Hawk, Sea Hawk and S-76 copters, the Antonucci family, with Glenn’s help, developed a cradle system that reduced the height of the loaded helicopters. In reducing the height, it also reduced the costs for Sikorsky, the manufacturer, and made the transport safer. This trailer is still in service today, having been modified now with special wheel cradles to haul the Augusta Westland AW-139 helicopter for the Augusta Aerospace Corp.
Everything at Farren is designed with safety in mind, and the countless awards the company has received are a testament to that. One of the most coveted honors they have achieved is earning Ace Gold status from United Technologies for their superior service in handling Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Sunstrand products. It is an honor that is earned, and H.W. Farren is the only trucking company to have ever earned it. Looking around at the awards proudly hanging all over their office walls – all saying “0 incidents” and “0 injuries” – was unbelievable.
While walking around the yard and talking to different people, I heard the same thing over and over again – that Philip treats them fairly and pays them well for what they do. The first Farren driver I met was Vinnie Cataldo. Vinnie loves his Peterbilt and it shows. Vinnie and Joe have been friends since Joe was born. Joe, who is a big Peterbilt fan as well, told me his heart is still out on the road. He fell in love with trucking when he was a little boy, riding with his grandpa Frank. Joe has something more important at home now – his wife Amy and their new little girl, Madelyn.
Derek Smith answered a 2” x 2” ad eleven years ago that said “Local Rigging Company Looking for Drivers.” Today, he proudly told me, he is their new driver recruiter. It was fascinating listening to Derek tell me about the hundreds of helicopters he’s hauled since joining the Farren family. Growing up in Brooklyn, he knew the city well and used to truck locally. He had also run big machinery, so he fit right in at Farren. Within a few months, he was hauling helicopters. One of his most memorable loads was when he hauled the last helicopter that Ronald Reagan flew in to the place where it was to be refurbished for a museum.
These expensive helicopters have to be protected while being transported and they do that with special shrink wrap. Al “the goose man” Guzman is one of the men that goes out to help with that part. They have to first put pads and felt around the helicopter, then they add a layer of fire-retardant shrink wrap, and then, depending on where they are going, it can take up to five layers of shrink wrap to properly cover these big birds. Shrink wrapping isn’t Al’s only job – he also designs and builds (with wood or steel) the crates used to ship or transport some of the awkward machines they haul. When I asked him how long he’d been at Farren, he replied, “Too long.”
Joe told me I had to talk to Marty Wiseberg – he had worked with his grandfather and now comes to the yard to hang out in his retirement years. Marty has been around longer than most – back in the day, he owned his own business, then sold it to Farren and came to work for them a long time ago. Marty told me about how he got into the business. His father was a butcher, and Marty was one, too. He was a good butcher when he was young, but he hated it! He would go next door to the hardware store wearing his white apron, covered with blood, to look at the nuts and bolts and other fun things found in a hardware store. Later, in the Navy, he learned how to move equipment and found his true calling.
Once he got out of the Navy, Marty became a millwright (I had to look it up, but that is a person who assembles and disassembles big machines). He never got into trucking, but that’s how he met Frank Antonucci – Frank did Marty’s trucking. Marty told me that the real money was in the rigging, and when you got done, you got paid. As a millwright, you usually had to wait for your money. When I asked him about teaching others his trade, he told me he was not a teacher, he is a doer. Now, in an effort to keep busy, he enjoys hanging around the yard. One of the pictures seen here is of Marty standing next to one of Farren’s old Autocars and another one is Marty on a huge, ancient forklift that was once his, back in the day. The forklift’s name is “Animal” – apparently, all of their big forklifts have a name.
This company not only does great work, but they give back, too. Farren Racing was founded by Philip Antonucci and Mike Maroney in 2010. In 2011, Farren joined forces with PR2 Racing to create a team to help support amateur racers in their quest to be professional athletes in the sport of motocross. In addition to supporting these young, new, up-and-coming riders, the Farren/PR2 racing team was recently involved in a fundraiser in Alachua, Florida for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
Working both domestically and internationally, Farren is a full-service company. They will not only prepare your freight for shipment and haul it, but they sometimes send a crew to unload it at the other end and put everything back together – and that includes sending teams of their people to other countries all over the world! The scope of their operation is immense, and I am just so glad that I was able to “stumble upon” them and put this article together.
I would like to thank everyone at H.W. Farren who shared their stories with me. Glenn, a special thank you for all the time you took to talk with me and share all those wonderful pictures. I can’t wait to come back and visit again. Maybe one day I can write a story on the millwright and rigging side of things. I know how important the rigging is when it comes to hauling the big freight that gets trucked across our nation every day, and nobody does it better than H.W. Farren.