Everybody loves an “old school” truck these days – or at least one that looks that way. But most people also like the modern technology and creature comforts available in a new truck. Since Ron Ver Steeg is from California and has to have newer trucks, he chose to build a ride that combines the best of both worlds – a new truck with “old school cool” features – which in this case is a 2019 Peterbilt 389 transfer customized with those classic old school touches.
Born and raised in Norwalk, CA, Ron Ver Steeg (57) was not raised in a trucking family. Most of his family members were electricians, so after graduating from a private Christian high school in 1981, Ron started working in that field. Not liking it as much as he thought he should, he answered an ad for a driving job at West Coast Sand & Gravel in 1986. His grandfather did a little car hauling when Ron was a kid, and he always liked the thought of driving a truck, so it kinda made sense. After a short training period, Ron got his CDL and away he went.
Back then, West Coast only had a handful of trucks. Today, they have 300 of them that operate out of 13 locations throughout California and Arizona! After just three months, going a bit too fast, Ron flipped a trailer, which earned him the nickname “Flipper” for a while. The guys would tease him on the radio by making dolphin sounds! Despite that unfortunate incident early on, Ron stayed at West Coast as a driver for eight years. In 1993 he bought his first rig – a 1977 Peterbilt 359 transfer with Likens boxes, painted baby blue and white with a Seminole scheme – and formed Ron Ver Steeg Trucking. Later, when he incorporated, he changed the name to Ver Steeg Trucking, which it remains today.
After buying his first truck and becoming an owner operator, Ron leased on at West Coast and stayed there for another two years. In those days, he ran for anyone and everyone. In 1996, through his connections at West Coast, he got the opportunity to demo (test drive) a brand-new Kenworth T800 transfer for a week. Of course, after seven days of enjoying the smoother ride and air conditioning, he sold the Peterbilt and bought the KW. This truck, which was powered by a 370-hp M11 Cummins hooked to a 10-speed, was metallic blue and had Superior boxes.
In May of 2004, he bought a used 2002 Peterbilt 379 transfer, fitted with a 6NZ C15 Cat and an 18-speed, painted dark blue like all his trucks now, except this one had silver stripes (he still owns it today). Keeping the T800 for a while and putting a driver in it, Ron eventually sold it to the guy running it. In 2006, Ron got a deal on three brand-new Mack Vision CXN613 transfers, all painted dark blue, so he bought them.
As expected, these Mack trucks had a lot of problems, so he started pulling the Rogue boxes off and selling them as tractors in 2008, which was also about the time the economy started crashing. Replacing the Macks with a few older trucks to get by, including a black 2002 Peterbilt 379 transfer, things got worse when a customer stiffed Ron for $200,000. This lack of payment darn-near broke him, but they sold some trucks and ate beans for a few years and got through it without having to file for bankruptcy.
By the time 2013 rolled around, things were getting better and Ron was able to buy a brand-new Peterbilt 386 transfer. The following year, in 2014, he bought a 2013 Peterbilt 389 tractor from his friend George DeFrancesco of DDT and fitted it with one of the sets of Rogue boxes he had pulled off a Mack. The next year, in 2015, he bought another Peterbilt 389 from George, a 2014 model, and again mounted one of those sets of Rogue boxes taken from the Macks before he sold them. Both of these trucks were white and black when he got them, so Ron painted them dark blue and black to match the rest of his growing fleet. At this point, he had (2) 2002 Peterbilt 379s (the blue one with silver stripes and a black one), (1) blue Peterbilt 386 and (2) blue and black Peterbilt 389s.
In 2016, after rolling the trailer of his black 2002 and destroying the boxes, Ron went on the hunt for new boxes and found the cream-colored ones with polished rear gates seen on the cover truck this month. Several sets of those older styled boxes, made to mimic the boxes from the 70s and 80s, were specially built by Rogue in 2006 for their customer, Bill Hanmer. Bill used all the sets except this one, which had been sitting in his yard for years. Ron bought the boxes and then mounted them on the black 379 to replace that ones that got smashed in the rollover.
As luck would have it, just a couple years later, Ron got a notice from CARB (California Air Resources Board) that he needed to get rid of or replace two of his aging trucks. Pulling the boxes off that black 2002 Peterbilt 379, he turned that truck into the state and then ordered the truck you see on our cover and centerfold (and on these pages) this month to replace it. Knowing that he was going to mount those old-style cream-colored boxes on a brand-new Peterbilt 389, he decided to build the truck with an “old school cool” theme, which gave him the best of both worlds – a rig with old school looks but with some modern luxuries.
Ordering the 2019 Peterbilt 389 extended hood in the fall of 2018, the truck arrived just before the end of the year. Ron spent the next six weeks building and customizing it to what you see here today. The rig is equipped with a Cummins X15 and a 10-speed and was ordered with an “end dump package” which included suspension changes and a car-hauler front axle to get it lower to the ground. Painted Concord blue with a black frame, fenders and roof, Ron took the brand-new truck to Rogue Truck Body in Elsinore, CA where the trailer was cleaned up and the boxes were installed.
Once the initial assembly was completed by Rogue, Ron had Dan Veltkamp at Auto-B-Craft in Long Beach, CA paint the aluminum visor, fuel tanks and breather light panels. Some other modifications included customized steps, the front end was air-bagged and dump valves were installed, the headlights were replaced with painted double-rounds with eyelids on Double JJ brackets, and the stock mirrors were replaced with traditional Moto Mirrors. To compliment the old school theme, the truck was ordered with old-style breather lids and has five bullet cab lights, along with a tapered Valley Chrome bumper, Hogebuilt quarter fenders, extra tall 5-inch Dynaflex pipes with classic heat shields and an elegant swan hood ornament.
Adding a ton of LEDs, the combination has about 140 lights! One of the last things done was to take the truck to Brian “Lefty” Wilcox at Lefty’s Pinstripes in Yucaipa, CA to have a bunch of tasteful pinstripes added to the back of the headlights, the edges of the fenders, the back of the cab, down the sides of the boxes, on the trailer chassis panels and more. He also added the cream stripe on the truck, outlined with baby blue, lettered the doors, and hand-painted the driver’s name (Chris) under the driver’s door and the names of Ron’s three granddaughters (Raelynn, Kynlee and Finley) under the passenger side door. With the cream-colored boxes and accents, along with a bit of baby blue here and there, the exterior of this rig definitely has an “old school” vibe.
Putting the truck on the road in February of 2019, Chris Sotella (AKA Showtella) is the lucky driver that gets to run her up and down the road every day. Chris has been with Ron and Ver Steeg Trucking for about six years now, and does a great job keeping the truck clean and well taken care of. He is very particular about the truck and treats it like its his own. These days, Ron doesn’t drive as much as he used to, but when he does, he usually drives the blue 2002 Peterbilt 379 with silver stripes. This is the next truck Ron is going to have to turn in to satisfy CARB, even though he installed a DPF filter on it several years ago. But, thankfully, he doesn’t have to turn it in until the end of 2020, so he’ll keep running it in the meantime.
Meeting his wife Dawn in high school, the two were married in 1985 and have now been married for 35 years. Having three daughters pretty quickly – Megan (32), Emily (30) and Olivia (28) – the couple also has the three granddaughters previously mentioned. That’s a lot of girls! Megan handles all the paperwork in the office and her husband Aaron Minnima does the dispatching. Emily is married to a doctor and is a stay-at-home mom who also runs a daycare, while Olivia is a teacher’s aide for special needs children. Ron’s wife Dawn is a waitress at a well-known steakhouse in Pico Rivera, CA called The Dal Rae. Opened in 1951, The Dal Rae is an L.A. institution with a reputation for excellence and loyal customers – and delicious food!
Based in Bellflower, CA, Ver Steeg Trucking currently has five full transfer units and runs throughout California, Arizona and Nevada, hauling all sorts of sand, gravel, pipeline job materials and decorative rock. Ron and his wife live just down the street from the yard so, being addicted to work, you can usually find Ron tinkering with trucks there on any given day at any given time. When he’s not playing with trucks or driving, he has lots of hobbies to fill the rest of his time including boating, going to NASCAR races and helping out at their church in Long Beach, CA (they have been members of this church for over 35 years).
Another way Ron likes to fill his time is to participate in demolition derby races. Once a year in July, he participates in an annual event held during the Chino Fair at the fairgrounds in Chino, CA. Buying and modifying the biggest old junk car he can find each year, they have fun with it and build cars with a theme, even dressing the part during introductions. One year they did a “Grease” theme, another year was “The Yacht Club” theme, and still another was a “10-4” trucking theme. Their number each year is 10-4 on the car, and these behemoth vehicles are driven and smashed into each other until they won’t go anymore. How fun would that be! 5th place is the best finish Ron has ever achieved, but one year their car won the “Best Appearing Car” award, which he is pretty proud of.
Yet another thing Ron enjoys is helping out with a drag racing team. Driving the hauler and working in the pits on the “Hot 4 Teacher” nitro funny car driven by Alex Miladinovich, Ron is in charge of the heads and occasionally the bottom end of the engine. This car previously raced in the Nostalgia class, but Alex is now earning his license to begin participating with the big boys in the NHRA Mello Yello circuit. If he can qualify to compete, they hope to do the “South Coast Swing” which includes six races. If all goes as planned, they hope to make their debut at the Winternationals in Pomona, CA this February.
One last thing (although I bet there are plenty more not listed) that Ron enjoys doing is tinkering on his latest toy – a 1960 Kenworth W900A. Bought from a gentleman in Perris, CA, this neat old classic rig came painted blue, so it immediately looked right at home in the Ver Steeg yard with the rest of his trucks. The truck is a 2-axle day cab, and Ron hopes to one day pull his 5th wheel travel trailer with it.
Wanting to give credit where credit is due and show appreciation to the people who have helped, Ron wanted to thank Vic Caliva for helping to get the truck ready at the last minute for the photo shoot, driver Chris for getting the truck there and always taking good care of it, his son-in-law Aaron for all the help he gives with the company and trucks, Cody Hill at Rogue Truck Body for always being there to help whenever needed, and his wife and family, for all their patience and support over the years. Ron is not a boastful or arrogant person in the least and is very thankful to God for getting them where they are today, saying, “We owe it all to Him!”
Doing the photo shoot on a gloomy day in Southern California at a place called Upland Rock, just a day after a rainstorm, made for some difficult conditions that day, but we got it done. When asked about the future, Ron said he likes the size of his current fleet and never plans to retire. Being a workaholic, he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. Being a fan of the old stuff but having to buy new stuff, Ron Ver Steeg is happy that he found a way to build a new truck but still give it that “old school cool” look – giving him the best of both worlds!