Living a life with no regrets is more than just a headline for Victor Tomas – it is truly a way of life. And although it may be easy to say that popular phrase, actually living it takes a little more effort. In Victor’s case, living through a few traumatic experiences helped him to fully realize the importance and significance of living with no regrets. As part of that philosophy, Victor (42) works hard and plays even harder. Running Platinum Enterprises in Riverside, CA with his business partner and girlfriend Laura Gwin, the two recently invested in a head-turning flagship truck for their fleet – and we definitely do not regret putting it on our cover (pun intended).
Migrating from Yugoslavia, Victor’s parents settled in Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada, which is where Victor was born in 1972. A few short years later, the family moved to Long Beach, CA and opened a drive-through Alta Dena dairy in Santa Ana, CA. During this period, while they had the dairy, is when Victor fell in love with all of the trucks making deliveries. Not long after that, when Victor was five years old, his parents got a divorce and Victor moved to Riverside, CA with his mother. From then on, his relationship with his father has been basically non-existent. His mother, Rose, remarried a man named Jim who turned out to be a great step-father.
After starting a few different businesses, Rose and her husband Jim opened a place called Best Buy Banner in Riverside in 1984. More than just a place to buy banners, they also sold vinyl to other stores and, eventually, did large digital inkjet printing – really large. At one point they had (2) 16-foot wide printers and (2) 10-footers, using them mostly for large wraps and movie set backgrounds. They even had a machine that could “weld” these giant banners together to make them even bigger! Rose also pioneered an enamel-coating process for banners that allowed them to be painted. Needless to say, Rose was a very hard-working and enterprising woman, and the banner business was very successful.
When Victor was 14 years old, his step-dad Jim passed away. Victor’s mom never remarried, and from then on out, she was his mother, father, mentor and friend. Graduating from high school in 1990, Victor immediately went out and got his CDL. Around this time, Victor was dating a girl named Marisa Johnson, and her father, Harry, owned a towing company called Harry’s Towing. That company was going out of business, so Rose, looking to diversify her investments, bought the company and started Superior Towing. Hiring Harry to drive the 1989 Peterbilt 3-axle wrecker that came with the business, this new venture turned out to be lucrative, too, as Harry had the connections and Rose had the capital.
In 1990, Rose bought her son a brand new F450 Super Duty Lariat flatbed tow truck, and Victor got on it. Over the next five years, they grew their one-truck operation to include (2) heavy duty wreckers, (1) medium duty wrecker, and several small flatbeds, and then sold the company to its current owner, who still owns and runs it today. While Victor was running the tow truck business, Rose kept herself pretty busy at the banner store. But, about this time, another very traumatic event was about to plague Victor’s life – and this was a big one!
When Victor was 22 years old, he was kidnapped from his home at gun-point and held for ransom. For three long days he sat chained to a car, inside a warehouse, with his face covered. One can only imagine the thoughts that go through someone’s mind when in a situation like that, but one of them is probably, “Man, if I get out of this alive, I am never going to waste another day again – no regrets!” After getting the FBI involved, Victor was rescued. His mom had paid the ridiculous ransom but, luckily, she got it all back. And, thankfully, all but one of the perpetrators were caught and convicted.
After selling Superior Towing in 1995, Victor bought a 2-axle 1986 Peterbilt 359 and began pulling trailers for Gardner Trucking out of Chino, CA. This sharp truck was black with red fenders and a red frame, but after only about a year, it got stolen and was never recovered. Victor took this as a sign and left the trucking industry. Back in those days, automotive detail shops were all the rage, so Victor decided to open a place of his own called Hand Jive Auto Detail.
After seven years in the detailing business, at just 30 years of age, Victor got the opportunity to have his own Snap-On Tool franchise. Not one to do anything half-hearted, Victor eventually built up to three trucks and had one of the largest routes in the country. Seeing over 300 customers per week, at one point he was the second most profitable dealer in Snap-On’s entire network of 4,500 franchises. Always liking to have a cool ride, he built himself a sweet Peterbilt 335 truck, complete with a drop visor, tinted windows and lots of chrome. After ten years with Snap-On, it was time for Victor to either renew his contract or get out. Having just turned 40 years old, he decided it was a good time to sell it all and go on to the next thing. Seeing the size and value of his route, Snap-On bought everything from Victor, and then created and sold two franchises from his one. It was a win-win for everyone!
About a year prior to selling his Snap-On franchise, Victor bought a slick Peterbilt from Blackwell Truck Sales in Daingerfield, TX. The truck was originally owned by A & R Transport out of Joliet, IL and was mostly built to show by Darren Sackman for Mike Betaker, the owner of A & R Transport, who just recently passed away. The blacked-out 2001 Peterbilt 379 features a 63-inch flat top, a 320-inch wheelbase, a 550 Cat, an 18-speed transmission, and all sorts of cool accessories, including a 20-inch flip bumper, stainless steel boxes, painted body drop panels and plenty of other subtle touches. After buying the truck, he purchased a 2012 MAC flatbed trailer and then had a conestoga kit installed. Still running his Snap-On business, he formed Platinum Enterprises in 2011 and began trucking part-time in his cool black Peterbilt.
Once he was out of the tool business (although you wouldn’t know it by looking around his shop), he started focusing on his new trucking venture. Three months later, he bought a second truck – and this was not just ANY truck – it was the very last Peterbilt 379 Legacy ever produced (#1,000). The truck, which we did a story on back in May 2007, was originally sold to a couple in Two Rivers, WI. From there, it went to Bangor, Maine, where it was not driven much. Victor is the third owner of this truck, which, if you saw it on the street, you would just think it was another clean, all-red Peterbilt (nothing too fancy). The truck was in pretty good shape when Victor got it, but it was covered with ridiculous, store-bought, bolt-on accessories, and way too many lights. With only 140,000 miles on it when he purchased it, the truck ran like new, and has been a great addition to his everyday working fleet. Buying yet another 2012 MAC flatbed to pull behind the cleaned-up red truck, he now had two complete combinations. He put a full-time driver in the red truck, and continued to drive his black one.
Things were going great, but then the unthinkable happened – Victor’s beloved mother had complications from a surgery and never left the hospital. She laid unconscious in her bed for two weeks as her body rapidly deteriorated. At that point, the family signed a DNR order and said their goodbyes. Her breathing tube was removed in the evening and then she died quietly the next morning on February 8, 2013. This was a very devastating blow to Victor, as his mother was his hero and mentor. While grieving, he ran into an old friend, Laura Gwin, who had just went through a divorce. Grieving together, these two connected on a deep level and have been inseparable ever since. Laura is a sharp business woman, and she reminds Victor a lot of his mother.
Having lived through yet another traumatic, life-changing experience, Victor was ready to move on without any regrets. Wanting partly to kick his business up a notch and partly to just have a project to occupy his brain so he wouldn’t dwell on his mother’s passing, Victor had Bryan Martin at 4 State Trucks in Joplin, MO find him a truck to build. Bryan did not have to go far, finding a suitable rig just down the street at Joplin Peterbilt. The truck, a white 2007 Peterbilt 379 extended hood with a 63-inch flat top sleeper and shaved cab lights, was actually pretty cool, but it needed some TLC. With a 295-inch wheelbase, a 550 Cat, an 18-speed transmission and less than 450,000 miles on the odometer, the truck was solid – and many of the accessories on the truck now were already on it when he bought it.
Victor bought the truck sight-unseen, and then it went directly to 4 State, where it spent four months being rebuilt, then made its debut at the 2013 Guilty By Association Truck Show (GBATS), hosted by 4 State Trucks every September. After taking the truck apart and repainting everything white, including the frame, they also painted the boxes, visor, headlight buckets, mirror brackets, fiberglass body drop panels and new fuel tanks with aircraft filler necks. The rear fenders, air tanks, fender brackets and wipers were also painted white. Powdercoated flat black pipes from Dynaflex with Pickett elbows were added, as well as a two-piece painted deck plate with matching black and red graphics, a painted 12 Ga. “I” panel between the tanks, T. Kane Ultimate rear axle covers, high-intensity headlights, and plenty of multi-function penny-sized LEDs.
The truck was also fitted with air-ride by Horst, two extra load lights (for a total of six), and a Valley Chrome bumper with a 4 State flip kit. Valley Chrome also made a custom rear light bar, complete with the Platinum Enterprises logo cut into it and back-lit with red LEDs. The flat black and red vinyl graphics that adorn the truck’s exterior were done by Thunder Grafix in Joplin, MO – they also wrapped the breathers with flat black vinyl to match. If you look close, you will notice that the white paint on the hood and the vinyl graphics cover a large portion of the grille surround, making it look even sleeker.
Moving inside the truck, the interior is just as striking as the exterior. Featuring a painted steering wheel (black with a white trim stripe), painted gauge bezels (flat red), painted dash panels and floor (white) with a matching flat black and red graphic, like on the exterior, and painted door panels with custom inserts, the cab is really cool. There is also a painted ceiling panel with the truck’s name “Albino” on it, painted pedals, polished door jambs, painted and polished sill plates, black leather Bostrom Wide Ride seats with low-low bases, and a nice Alpine stereo, complete with extra speakers and an amplifier. Back in the sleeper, things are still pretty stock (there is just a bed in there). The truck also has a navigation system and a forward-facing camera with a monitor inside, just to keep a better eye on things. A custom “Platinum” oval logo on each door panel adds the final touch.
And let’s not forget the trailer! Dragging behind Victor’s amazing rig is an equally-amazing 2012 MAC flatbed with a Quick Draw conestoga kit. The 48-foot trailer features spread axles with a lift/dump valve (the front axle lifts and the rear axle can be dumped), polished side rails with LED lights and a polished rear end. The trailer also has a polished front, polished tool boxes, and a painted nose cone to help deflect some of the wind. Looking to give Bryan Martin some west coast exposure, he had a Chrome Shop Mafia logo added to each side of the trailer and a big 4 State Trucks logo stuck on the back. It was just one way Victor could say “thank you” to Bryan and his crew, including Joe Overfelt, who oversaw the project and did much of the work.
Today, Platinum Enterprises owns three trucks and five trailers, hauling specialized LTL freight throughout the 11 western states. Laura’s grown son, Nick Slater, is the lucky driver of the white truck, while Joe Delgado drives the red one. Tim Scott runs dispatch, finds freight and runs the shop, with help from Matt Reina. Laura runs the office and handles most of their brokerage business. Happy with the current size of their operation, they are looking to become more diversified in the LTL freight side of things, and are planning to expand in this area soon.
Having just purchased a beautiful new home, Victor and Laura, along with Victor’s two-year-old daughter Kennedy and their two giant Saint Bernard dogs (Whiskey and Bruno), love hanging out at their new outdoor oasis in their very own backyard. It doesn’t happen very often, but when the couple can get away, they enjoy going to Las Vegas as often as possible and, on occasion, out to the sand dunes to play with all their toys. Victor is thankful for everything he has and takes nothing for granted.
After living through several very traumatic life experiences – divorce, an absent father, the deaths of his step-father and mother, and a terrifying kidnapping ordeal, Victor Tomas has come to realize that every day is a gift, and that no days should be wasted. If there is something you have always wanted to do, just do it. You may never get the chance again, so take advantage of every opportunity, and live every day as if it were your last. Living a spontaneous life with no regrets, for some, can seem like a scary thing to do, but regretting what you did or didn’t do at the end of your life would be far worse.