They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true, Vinnie Diorio of Richfield, WI is very flattered. Over the years, his various rigs have started trends that many have tried to imitate, in their own way, but as the catch phrase on the back of his trailer says, “Often Imitated, Never Duplicated.” His latest combination, seen here, is sure to start a few new trends, too. But at only 32 years old, Vinnie has not attained his level of success by being lucky or born into the “right” family – he has worked hard, taken a lot of chances, and, for the sake of not being taken advantage of in a cut-throat industry, been (in his words) a little arrogant and cocky.
Born and raised just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in a town called Sussex, Vinnie spent a lot of time while growing up at his grandparent’s dairy. Located between two gravel pits, Vinnie loved to watch the trucks roll by. At one point, he even put a CB in his tractor so he could talk to the drivers. At 14 years old, long before he ever got his license, he was driving a tandem axle Ford LN9000 grain truck to Milwaukee every other night to get supplies for the dairy. His grandma would go with him, just in case he got pulled over. Wanting to be cool right from the start, Vinnie crudely wired up eleven lights down each side of his grain box, but for some reason he did not wire a switch up in the cab. So, whenever he wanted to turn them on or off, he had to pull the cover off the side tool box to get to the switch.
In high school, Vinnie got into wrestling. Over the next four years, he wrestled a lot, and earned a lot of awards. As a freshman, he took 5th place in the state championships; as a sophomore, he ended up in 2nd place; as a junior, he earned 3rd place; and as a senior, he won the state championships.
During his senior year, Vinnie got a job at a local company (Mindemann Trucking) working in the shop. The day he graduated from high school was also his 18th birthday, and that very day he went and took his road test, which he passed with flying colors, earning his CDL. When he got to work later that day, the owner, Ruben Mindemann, took Vinnie down to the local Freightliner dealer and bought him a brand new quad-axle FLD120 straight truck with a dump box to drive. Dropping the truck off at the painter to be lettered over the weekend, Vinnie asked his boss if he could do anything else to the truck. Ruben said, “Sure.” That was a dumb answer. On Monday morning, Vinnie showed up for work in the new white truck, but now it had a fully-flamed hood!
Always known for keeping his trucks clean, Vinnie hauled sand and gravel for about two years. At 20, he switched over to pulling an end dump for his friend Jeff, bringing sand into various batch plants, all the while, just biding his time, waiting for his 21st birthday so he could really go trucking. As soon as he turned 21, he bought his first truck – an orange and red 1997 Peterbilt 379 extended hood with a 48-inch flattop – formed his company (Rollin Transport), and hit the road. He also bought a brand new MAC end dump and started running between Wisconsin and Illinois. After about a year, he sold the end dump and started pulling a livestock trailer for his friend Troy. Running all over the country, Vinnie loved it, but after almost three years, he got tired of being gone for weeks at a time. About this time, he also got together with his future wife, Kim, so he had a little “motivation” to be home more often.
Still driving that orange and red Peterbilt, Vinnie bought a MAC flatbed and started hauling building materials locally (to Chicago) for Gary Goeman Trucking. After about a year, Vinnie got tired of the city traffic and switched gears again, buying a new grey and orange 2005 Peterbilt 379 from Clint Moore and yet another new MAC flatbed, but this one had curtain sides. After that, Vinnie’s business started to take off (his customers loved the curtain-side trailer). Before long, he had more work than he could handle, so he brought in his old high school friend, Kevin “Biggs” Pascavis, who drove for someone else, to help out. Pretty soon, as the work increased, Kevin’s boss bought more trucks and Vinnie kept them all busy. Eventually, he parked his truck and went to finding loads and dispatching 100% of the time. It was challenging work – and Vinnie loved that part – but he missed driving. At the peak of business, he was loading 20 or so trucks by himself and it was driving him crazy. When Kevin’s boss told Vinnie that he wanted him to cut his percentage, that was it. Vinnie pulled the plug and walked away, and Kevin went with him.
Buying a truck and trailer for Kevin, and then getting back in his, Vinnie called all of his friends and was able to keep most of that freight moving – and now he was back where he wanted to be – in the driver’s seat. Over the next few years, Vinnie and Kim would get married (2006), and Vinnie would buy several more trucks – and all of them would be ground-breaking and cool. Vinnie told us that he had never made the cover of any American trucking magazine, so this was special, but almost every one of his trucks has been on the Shell Rotella SuperRigs calendar.
His latest rig, the one you see here and on the cover and centerfold, was ordered as a glider kit through Clint Moore at Kansas City Peterbilt. After the truck was delivered in June of 2012, Clint and his crew spent a month fitting it with a 2003 model C-16 Cat engine and the rest of the drivetrain. From there, Vinnie took the truck to T/A Truck Painting in Pewaukee, WI where it spent two more months being customized, and then he took it to the show in Joplin, MO where it made its debut. That is where we hooked up with Vinnie, shooting the truck in a local quarry. Our thanks go out to Jasper Stone in Jasper, MO and Mischa Gooch from 4 State Trucks for setting it all up.
The truck, which is a 2012 Peterbilt 389 with a 63-inch standup sleeper, is painted Blue Effect and Omaha Orange and has a custom stripe pattern designed by Jim “Higgs” Higgins. Featuring a 325-inch wheelbase, the truck was air-bagged on the front, a 12 Ga. “lift bumper” kit was installed, and the headlights were swapped out with double-squares with shaved blinkers. The cab lights were arranged in the typical “Rollin Transport style” (three in the middle and then one on each side by itself), the air bags behind the sleeper were hidden under the bunk, and 7-inch cab and sleeper panels, with rivets to match the other body panels, were installed.
Everything on Vinnie’s truck was smoothed out. All of the frame bolts were shaved, and a smooth, painted deck plate was added. The guys at T/A ground down all of the weld beads on the fuel and air tanks, smoothed them out, and then painted them to match. The fuel filler caps, which are totally flush and smooth, are from an airplane. The truck was also fitted with strapless, painted air cleaners, a stainless drop visor, 8-inch Dynaflex pipes, painted half-fenders on hidden brackets, an oval-punched grille, and a painted “I panel” between the fuel tanks. Sitting on top of the deck plate, right behind the sleeper, is a small spoiler with the words “Jake Eilen – Roll On” written on it, in memory of his friend (and ours) that passed away back in 2008.
When the brand new truck arrived at T/A Truck Painting, they tore out the entire cab and sleeper interior and re-did everything. Wanting to remove the texture from the original dash, they took epoxy filler and smoothed it all out. After that, they painted the dash blue, all of the dash panels orange, and the steering wheel orange. The seats were reupholstered in orange and blue, as well as the door panel inserts, sleeper walls and overhead console. A 12 Ga. 2-stick shifter set-up was installed (the second stick is the splitter) with custom stainless sticks and blue glitter knobs. The guys at T/A also installed a beautiful aluminum floor, painted blue with orange stripes, to match the truck’s exterior. A stereo, with two large subwoofers mounted under the bed, finished off the inside of this awesome rig.
Always wanting a “catch phrase” on his trucks, Vinnie put “NV’d” (envied) on the back of the sleeper. Kevin is still with Vinnie, and he is the lucky driver of this unit. Since he is the one who drives it every day, he jokes that the “NV’d” really stands for “Not Vinnie Diorio” – which gets a lot of laughs. Vinnie’s other popular catch phrase, “Often Imitated, Never Duplicated” is not only written across the back of his trailer, a 2008 MAC flatbed with a Quick Draw rolling tarp system and a 12-foot spread, but also on the floor inside the cab. Vinnie really likes his catch phrases!
On May 10, 2012 Vinnie and his wife Kim had a life-changing experience – their daughter Francesca was born! Because of that, Vinnie has not done much driving – in fact, his award-winning orange and grey 2005 Peterbilt 379 has been parked for almost a year now, as Vinnie has been focusing on keeping his owner-operators (and his two other trucks) loaded and moving. Vinnie enjoys spending time with his wife and new baby, and hardly misses going out on his custom Harley (since having the baby, Kim won’t even get on it anymore). To make up for that, the couple recently bought a 32-foot Fountain powerboat with twin 502’s that put out over 1,000 total horsepower. They only got it out a few times this year, but can’t wait until next summer (they even bought Francesca her own little life-jacket).
Rollin Transport, in addition to their own three trucks, currently has 14 owner-operators. Vinnie describes his outfit as a specialty flatbed company that primarily hauls steel products and large machines – and no lumber. In addition to Vinnie’s parked truck and the one you see here driven by Kevin, Vinnie has another truck that is driven by his young friend, Todd Workman (22). Todd’s truck was one of Jake Eilen’s trucks, which Vinnie bought after Jake passed away. It used to be blue and silver with flames, but Vinnie rebuilt it last year and repainted it black, orange and grey (Jake’s favorite colors). The stripes on that truck were also designed by Jim “Higgs” Higgins.
Vinnie wanted to thank Jeff and John at T/A Truck Painting (and their entire crew) for all the hard work they put into this truck. He also wanted to thank Clint Moore and the guys in his shop, Jeff Battler and everyone else at 12 Ga. Customs (including Jim Higgins, who works there), his drivers, Kevin and Todd, and all of his awesome owner-operators who keep him in business. And, mostly, he wanted to thank his wife Kim for all of the hard work she does, getting the paperwork done in the office, and for being so patient and understanding of his “sickness” for trucks.
Looking forward to showing off Kevin’s truck at many of the 2013 shows, Vinnie can’t rest too long – there is plenty of work to be done, and he just started another new truck project (look for this one to be finished around the end of 2013). It takes guts, determination, and sometimes a little arrogance to succeed in trucking, but that is how you get to a point where people want to copy you. We had a great time with Vinnie and Kevin in Joplin, and look forward to seeing his next ground-breaking rig. And, if history has taught us anything, many will try to imitate it, but none will duplicate it. And, Vinnie Diorio will be NV’d by everyone because of it!