A lot can happen in 20 years – especially in the trucking business. In the past, people have suggested we do “where are they now” stories about former feature trucks, but we have been hesitant to do them because people retire or pass away, trucks get sold, wrecked, stolen, or parked in the weeds, and companies go out of business. Thankfully, none of this is true for Mike Maggini (45) and his entire family at Maggini & Son Trucking in Riverdale, CA. Mike’s little 2-axle hay hauler seen here was featured exactly 20 years ago this month on our March 2003 cover, and we thought this would be a great truck to feature again and bring everyone up to speed on what has been happening with it (and the family) over the past 20 years.
It seems like just yesterday that me and my business partner Erik “Big E” Sieben shot this truck for its first 10-4 Magazine cover. Heading north from SoCal in the early morning, I was driving our V10-powered Ford company van and we were running late, so I put the pedal to the metal. Not surprising, I got pulled over not far from Riverdale and further delayed our arrival as we waited for the nice officer to write my ticket. Not a good start to the day. But it got better from there. From that day on, we have had a great relationship with the Maggini family, and always look forward to spending time with this fun group of people who, as the title of their 2003 story stated, “Work Hard – Play Harder!”
Another memory from that first shoot back in 2003 included doing “whatever it takes” (our motto here at 10-4 since the beginning) to get the shot – including putting ourselves in harm’s way. Wanting to get a really high shot, looking down on the bright yellow truck in a green alfalfa field, the Magginis picked up a picnic table with their hay squeeze and Erik and I got on it. From there, they proceeded to lift us up about as high as that squeeze could go. I’m not sure how high we were, but I do remember looking down at the tops of the power poles nearby. And trust me when I say that wobbly picnic bench setup was not OSHA approved… but we got the shot!
While shooting this truck in 2003 we knew it was special, as it was stretching the imagination of everyone who saw it and raising the bar. In 2003, it was still an everyday work truck, pulling doubles and hauling hay, and was one of the few iconic trucks setting the standard for “California Cool” back then. And, truth is, 20 years later, it is still a relevant ride. And even though not much has been done to it since 2008 when it was parked and retired from service, the things that were done to it back then were obviously way ahead of their time, because this truck can still hold its own with the best of them today.
Besides the truck, the Maggini family and their trucking history, which now spans four generations, is a testimony in itself. It all started with Mike’s grandfather Harry Maggini, who was born and raised in Burrel, CA (about 10 miles northwest of Riverdale) in 1912. Harry had a reputation for being ornery and tough and was known as “Wild Horse Maggini” around town. He made his living driving heavy duty construction equipment like scrapers and bulldozers. And wouldn’t you know it, his son Melvin was pretty ornery too. In fact, at the age of 16, Melvin got kicked off his school’s football team for playing too rough – so he quit! His father told him either go back to school or go to work. Melvin chose work and has been working hard ever since.
After quitting school, Melvin went to work in the local hay fields, hand loading 150-pound bales of hay onto bobtail trucks. It was hard work, but Melvin loved it. After a few years of side-loading, he decided to buy a truck and start hauling hay. His first truck was a gas-powered 1948 Ford 10-wheeler. At the time, Melvin was working for someone else who, upon hearing of Melvin’s intentions to start his own company, told everyone in town that he’d be broke in six months and would come crawling back. That lit a fire in Melvin’s belly, and you don’t “challenge” a Maggini. Melvin formed Maggini Hay Company in 1965 and went on to have terrific success, proving all the naysayers wrong.
Melvin’s brother Felix was also involved in the family business. He had his own company called Felix Maggini Trucking, and had his own trucks, but they all worked together. After the now-famous “Maggini Yellow” (a patented color) was introduced to the fleet, Melvin and his brother were constantly competing with one another regarding the horsepower, number of lights, and amount of chrome on their trucks. This friendly back and forth battle caused them to have one of the coolest fleets on the west coast. Harry Maggini, in his later years, worked for Melvin as a mechanic, until he passed away in 1993 at 80 years old. Unfortunately, Felix died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.
The next generation of the Maggini family entered the picture in the late 1960s and on into the 1970s. Melvin and his wife Jessie had three children – Annette (54), Barbara (53), and then Mike (45). They all joined the family business, and Annette and Mike are still actively involved (Barbara and her husband moved away and are no longer part of the company). As the early 2000s rolled around, things were going great. The company had over 20 trucks and trailers, Mike’s truck (known as #13) was being featured on our cover, and Melvin bought another truck strictly to show and play with that just happened to be a past 10-4 cover truck from April 2002 (Robert “Boomer” Baer’s olive green and black 1962 Peterbilt). Then, the economy tanked.
As many can remember, those recession years between 2007 and 2009 were tough, and many companies did not start seeing recovery until 2012 or later, if they even managed to survive. During this time, Felix Maggini passed away, and his five trucks, that were part of the Maggini fleet, were sold. When it was all said and done, the Maggini fleet had trimmed their operation down to just seven trucks.
After getting through the recession, they began to focus more on heavy hauling. Today, the fleet of company-owned trucks has been built back up to 13 – six are hauling hay, six are doing heavy haul, and one pulls a walking floor trailer and services some local dairies. Mike runs the heavy haul side, and Melvin takes care of the hay. And the fourth generation is now involved, too. Mike and his wife Jodi both grew up in Riverdale and met in high school. They got married in 1996 and now have two children – Mikayla (25) and Mitchel (22). Mikayla is a dental assistant, and Mitchel drives for the family company, which now operates as Maggini & Son Trucking and Mike Maggini Hay Service.
Back in 2003 when we first shot Mike’s truck – a 1998 Peterbilt 379 with a turned-up 550 CAT hooked to a Super-13 transmission and a 3.70 ratio rear end – the exterior of the truck looked similar to what you see today. In fact, besides flames being added to the roof of the cab, the paint is still the same from when it was first done in 1998 when the truck was new. The candy green flames were sprayed by their longtime painter, Dale Lysdahl, who was killed in a motorcycle accident not long after our photo shoot in 2003. Back then, the truck had LEDs with clear lenses, a painted engine, 7-inch pipes, a rear window that rolls up and down, and single round headlights, which were mounted lower.
After being on our cover, Mike and the rest of their crew continued to customize truck #13 for the next few years. Most of what you see now was done during that time. Some exterior changes included swapping out the 7-inch pipes for an 8-inch setup, custom mirror brackets made by famous motorcycle builder Rick Bray of RBK Kustom Speed in Lemoore, CA, and custom billet aluminum mirrors, made for Mike by a machine shop in Fresno, CA. They also made their own air bag system for the front using a modified factory setup from the 1970s. The visor was swapped out for a newer one from 12 Ga. Customs, and all the clear LEDs were switched back to red and amber lenses. Another cool thing they did was remove the “wind wings” from the side windows and install one-piece tinted glass.
At the front of the truck is a 20-inch bumper with rolled ends from Valley Chrome. Mike painted the back of the bumper yellow and then added stainless plates with flame cutouts over it. Mounted behind the cab is a one-piece polished stainless deck plate with an integrated shock box cover that was made by Mike’s friend Chris Roush, who also laser cut spades into the air cleaner screens and created several panels with the Maggini logo cut out, which are back-lit in yellow light. One of these lighted panels is mounted underneath the cab, to help hide the clutter, and the “Maggini” was cut out in reverse to reflect properly on the boxes below. Another neat item on this truck, made by Bobby Lloyd, who used to be their mechanic, are tubular light brackets, mounted on the front and back of the smooth stainless battery and step boxes on each side of the truck. Bobby sliced and diced the stainless tubes to get the angles just right!
Since our first photo shoot in 2003, much has been done to the engine compartment. The painted engine with chrome valve covers is the same, but it has been embellished with a lot more painted, polished, and pinstriped pieces. The inside of the hood has been flamed with a mirror-image of the flames on the outside, and pinstriping and flamed stainless panels have been added to the underside of the hood, as well (even the inside of the wheel wells have been pinstriped). A custom one-piece air intake system was made in-house by Bobby Lloyd out of 7-inch polished aluminum tubing, a stainless firewall cover with the Maggini logo cut into it was made by Chris Roush and installed, and the fan blades were flamed to match. Mike also installed stainless oil, water, and fuel filters, which never need to be replaced, just cleaned. These lifetime filters are very popular on race cars.
In addition to all the extras done under the hood, the interior was completely redone after our original photo shoot in 2003, too. Today, it sports completely custom two-tone gray leather upholstery with flames stitched into it done by Central Valley Upholstery in Fresno, CA. This includes the door panels, the seats, the custom center console, the headliner, and even the floor! The dash was painted yellow, the dash panels were chromed, and chrome armrests and door sills were added. A big stereo, complete with 13 speakers and several video screens, was installed by Terry at Soundwaves. One of the video screens raises and lowers from a hidden compartment on the top of the dash at the flip of a switch. A painted steering wheel, a painted, pinstriped and chromed steering column, and a short shifter, round out the interior mods.
Mike misses running truck #13 and hauling hay, but he’s grown to love the 2011 Kenworth W900L he drives now, painted yellow and flamed in green, and moving equipment. Mike bought this truck, which was painted red and black, in 2019. Powered by a 500 ISX Cummins hooked to an 18-speed, the truck has 46,000-lb. rears, an 8-bag suspension, and Murray lowbed ramps. Besides the paint, the truck also got an altitude adjustment and a new stereo, complete with 13 speakers, just like his other truck.
As mentioned earlier, Melvin bought a 1962 Peterbilt that had been on our April 2002 cover. Immediately after buying the short-hood truck with a 60-inch Mercury sleeper, they replaced the sleeper with a smaller one, then proceeded to lengthen the truck’s narrow nose by sliding the cab back and extending the hood. Of course, it got the customary yellow and green paint, along with a host of other custom touches, and a cool new interior. We are proud to say this unique truck pulls our Truckin’ For Kids show trailer to various events throughout the year. Driven by Roger, Annette’s husband, we love hanging out with these two at the shows. A big “thank you” goes out to them and the entire Maggini family for their continuous help and support.
Going out in the trucks since he was born, trucking is all Mike’s son Mitchel ever wanted to do. They say trucking is in your blood, but I think Mitchel got it in his DNA. Getting his CDL at 18, he already had years of experience by then. After two years at college, he came home and started trucking. Mitchel just got married in August 2022 to Baylee, and a few months prior to that, their daughter Sadie Mae was born. And let me tell you, this girl has the entire Maggini clan wrapped around her tiny little finger!
With Mitchel driving in the family business full-time, they decided to buy him a truck – a 2018 Peterbilt 367 set up for heavy hauling. This truck is powered by a 565-hp Cummins X15 hooked to an 18-speed, and has a 20,000-lb. front axle, 46,000-lb. rears, full lockers, and a doubled frame. Mitchel loves the heavy haul work, and usually pulls a 16-tire Murray heavy equipment trailer (Mike pulls one of these, too). His truck recently got painted in the Maggini colors, along with a few other upgrades, as well. Since Dale Lysdahl was killed, Jimmy Ogawa has done all their flames and pinstripes and, once again, he did a stellar job on Mitchel’s ride.
This company has always been a true family affair. Melvin (74) and Jessie (73) have been married for 55 years now, and this couple is still going strong. As stated before, Melvin runs the hay portion of the company, and Jessie is the glue that holds everything together – she makes sure everyone has what they need. Mike runs the heavy haul side of Maggini & Sons Trucking, and his wife Jodi manages their company, Mike Maggini Hay Service, which has five trucks. Mike’s sister Annette is the secretary, and she takes care of everything. Her husband, Roger Ghidelli, has been a driver for the company since 2000, and the two got married in 2015. To this day, every one of these family members still live on the family property in Riverdale or within a few miles of it. From “Wild Horse” to Sadie Mae, that’s five generations of Magginis!
When talking to Mike for this article, he told me a funny story I had never heard. Mike vividly remembers when Erik from 10-4 Magazine first called him to tell him that we wanted to shoot his truck and put it on the cover back in 2003. Making that call is always fun because you know you are going to make someone happy. But Mike’s response was, “What’s it going to cost me?” Apparently, at that time, a lot of trucking books and magazines were charging people to be featured. Obviously, that is never how 10-4 Magazine has operated, and after setting Mike straight, he was on board to do it.
For this latest photo shoot in 2023, we went to a tractor junk yard and found some cool spots to take our pictures – still at no charge, I might add. Thanks go out to the folks at MyersWard Tractor & Equipment Company in Riverdale for allowing us to take our photos on their property. We even located some old green and yellow (and rusty) John Deere 9900 cotton picking machines on the 25-acre site, which sort of matched the truck, to use as the background.
Happy with the current size of the business, Mike is content not to grow (or shrink), with the exception of maybe adding a few more lowbeds. They are doing their best to stick to the old ways, but as dairies sell out and leave California, the hay business just gets more challenging every day, which is one of the reasons they ventured into the heavy haul work. But sink or swim, this family is in it for the long haul, and they are in it together. They all bleed Maggini yellow, they all watch out for one another, and we are proud to call them all friends. And 20 years (and four generations) later, they are still working hard, and playing even harder!