For most of us who have been around trucking for any length of time, it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. However, some of the new people entering this industry today sadly do not share that sentiment. They are just here for the job and the paycheck. That is not the case at all for this month’s cover feature trucker Richie Foster (49) of Pittsburgh, PA. Richie has been driving since he was 17 years old, and truly embraces the old-school traditions and attitudes, and has made it his personal mission – at least in his sphere of influence – to keep the drive alive!
Born and raised in and around Pittsburgh, Richie did not come from a trucking family or background, but his mother did have a friend who owned a trucking company with about 40 garbage and roll-off trucks. Richie loved going out with this man and his drivers when he was a kid, and although his first experience in a truck at the age of three did not go well (he cried the entire time until they stopped and bought him a toy truck), his love for trucks began then and never left. From then on, he knew driving a truck is what he wanted to do, even though everyone around him told him not to do it.
Raised in a family with three older sisters, Richie was the lone son, and a bit of a mama’s boy, at that. His dad was a workaholic, and not around much when Richie was young, and he was a lot older than most dads. In fact, Richie’s dad was 58 years old when Richie was born! He died in 2004 at 89 years old when Richie was 31 years old. One of Richie’s older sisters married a man who started a trucking company, as well, and they eventually built it up to about 40 trucks. Richie spent a lot of time in those trucks, and later started his career driving for them.
While still a junior in high school, Richie started driving a dump truck at a local steel mill hauling the burned coke (a coal-based fuel used in the steel manufacturing process to provide the heat to melt the ore) from the ovens to a nearby dumping location. Since he never left the plant property, he didn’t need to have a license. After graduating high school in 1991, he went to work at a local car dealership, detailing the new cars, to earn money to go to truck driving school. At 19 years old, he successfully completed truck driving school, and then got his CDL.
Now that he could drive, his brother-in-law hired him to work at their company, Latimore Trucking & Supply, and purchased him a 1977 Autocar triaxle dump truck to run, complete with a roof-mount A/C unit and an 8-track cassette player in the dash. This thing was totally old school – for real! Hauling stone, mulch, and asphalt, Richie did this for about four years, until he was 23. At this time, Richie and his then girlfriend had a baby, and she decided to move back to New Mexico, where her mom lived, to help her raise the baby. Wanting to see his daughter, Mikayla (28), he took an OTR driving job with Covenant Transport and began pulling a van coast-to-coast, which allowed him to get through New Mexico to see his daughter and attempt to salvage the relationship he had with his girlfriend (but that did not happen).
Driving for Covenant for four years, in March of 1999, after meeting Amanda, who was the daughter of the woman who ran the Covenant terminal in Dallas, TX, Richie left Covenant and started driving locally for his family again. He also went to his first Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, KY as a spectator. Pulling a tanker and hauling liquids to local asphalt plants, Richie’s new girlfriend Amanda moved from Texas to Pennsylvania to be with Richie. Together for over 20 years but never married, the couple has two daughters – Bryauna (20) and Rylie (11). They are no longer together, but strangely enough, Amanda is still Richie’s dispatcher.
In 2002, Richie moved over to another family-run operation owned by one of his uncles called BRS (Burke Rolloff Services) Transport, driving a cream on cream Peterbilt 379, pulling a MAC half-round steel bucket, hauling scrap. Eventually, Richie began doing terminal transfers for one of their big customers who had locations in Chicago, IL, Decatur, AL, Houston, TX, and Philadelphia, PA, which allowed him to stretch his legs a little bit. He also did one dedicated run a month, pulling a flatbed to Pueblo, CO and back. This run was like a vacation to him every month! Richie worked at BRS for ten years.
In 2012 a few things happened. At just 49 years old, his brother-in-law, the one he had worked with in the past, had a massive heart attack and died. His sister sold everything and let the company go. Around this same time, the scrap business was beginning to slow down, and Richie decided he needed a change. After driving a tanker for a friend’s dad’s company for a short while, Richie and his family moved to Texas, where Amanda was from, and his plan was to take a month off, get a job at FedEx or UPS, and then go on to live a stress-free and happy life. Well, that didn’t exactly happen.
When he ran out of money, it was time for Richie to go get a job, and he ended up driving for JB Hunt. Some of you might think this was not a good decision, but Richie liked it. He had a dedicated route, delivering to restaurants in the local area, three days a week. He enjoyed the relationships he formed with his customers and was making good money, so he was happy. Unfortunately, when it came time to re-bid their routes, it did not go well for Richie, and he lost many of his stops and his pay was decreased. So, after about two years, he left JB Hunt.
Going to the MATS show almost every year since 1999, Richie had formed a friendship with Eddie and Patrick at Reinsfelder, a trucking company based in Zelienople, PA, near where he grew up. Hanging out with these guys at the show, they were always bugging him to come and work with them, even going so far as to tell him they’d order a new truck just for him. Well, when he decided to leave JB Hunt, he called Eddie and said, “I’m ready to work with you guys!” They sent Richie a ticket to fly back to Pennsylvania and sent a truck to get their stuff. Richie started at Reinsfelder in January of 2015 and has been there ever since.
Pulling a flatbed was new to Richie, and it took him a little time to learn how to tarp, strap, and chain down awkward-shaped loads, but thankfully he had some great mentors and teachers to get him up to speed pretty fast. Driving one of their other trucks for about a month until his new one came in, the folks at Reinsfelder stuck to their word and let Richie order a brand-new 2014 Peterbilt 389. Fitted with a flattop sleeper, the truck was a Fitzgerald glider kit, equipped with a 525 Detroit that was hooked to a 13-speed and 3.55 rears, and had a 275” wheelbase. Richie is known to like things clean and bright, and this all-white Peterbilt was certainly no exception.
Allowing him to customize the truck like he wanted, Richie lowered the front end by de-arching the springs, installed a custom 20” American Eagle bumper, a Clint Moore stainless visor (which he had wrapped in white but left a one-inch strip of shiny stainless showing around the lower edge), a painted white deck plate, and painted white half fenders. Inside, a friend of Richie’s installed a painted white aluminum floor, and then painted the lower portions of his dash white, as well. Richie is a fanatic when it comes to keeping his interior clean and he always wears “slides” (slip-on sandals) when driving. These slides are always color coordinated (white in this case) and they never leave the driver’s seat area – he doesn’t go outside with them or even back into the sleeper! Everyone teased him about his slides, and it became a “thing” he was known for, so he still has matching (turquoise) slides today in his latest truck.
And, speaking of his next truck, after that 2014 glider started having engine issues, the company let Richie order another new truck, and that is the one you see here on these pages and on our cover and centerfold this month. When we first met Richie, at the Top Gun Largecar Shootout show in Rantoul, IL in 2017, he was still driving the all-white truck, and we got a few fun pictures of him and the truck (and his white slides). Although we had just met him, he is the kind of guy that immediately makes you feel like you’ve known each other forever.
Ordering this latest truck in February of 2021, which was just white with a turquoise frame, it arrived bare boned in July of that year, and then spent another eight months being built and customized at various shops. Spending its first month or two at Hunter Peterbilt in Butler, PA getting the frame repainted because it got damaged in shipment, they also installed the cab lights, a RoadWorks visor, and the blacked-out headlights from United Pacific. From there, it went to Morocco Welding in Somerset, PA where Kevin Montgomery did a bunch of work to it.
While at Morocco Welding for about three months, the truck was fitted with a step box on the driver’s side to match the DPF box on the passenger side and over-inflates and leveling valves were added to both the front and rear suspensions. They also built the ramps on the back for his RGN trailer, the center panel on the back of the truck, and ran the air connections to the back. Kevin also installed a painted Merritt deck plate but customized it by adding a recessed air line connection box underneath it, accessible by removing four screws (which Richie does not have to do very often), and then trimmed it with stainless strips. They also made stainless covers for the front brackets of the York rear fenders, heavy duty brackets for the back of the rear fenders, and added all of the lighting, including under glow elements.
After its time at Morocco, the Peterbilt went to Clearfield Customs in Fenelton, PA for the paint work and a few other items. Before the grey was applied, they installed Fibertech drop panels, and then proceeded to spray the lower portions of the hood, cab and sleeper, along with the tanks, boxes, breathers, DEF tank, and rear fenders gunmetal grey. Also, while at Clearfield Customs, the signature turquoise double breaker stripes were added, as well. All told, it was in Fenelton, PA for about four months.
The next step was the interior. Dropping it off to Randy at Spare Time Fab in Myerstown, PA, they had all the interior panels replaced with grey diamond tuck with turquoise buttons in about a week. And when we say all the interior panels, we mean all, including the doors, the cab and sleeper walls, the ceilings in the cab and sleeper, the front of the refrigerator, and even the front pillar posts in the cab. Once that was done, the truck went back to Kevin at Morocco Welding where he and Richie finished everything else.
Back at Morocco, Kevin and Richie installed the turquoise deep shag carpet, along with a twisted shifter, turquoise pearl knobs, and a Forever Sharp steering wheel, covered with a white wrap. On the back of the visor, in turquoise lettering, it says, “Elegance is not about being noticed, it’s about being remembered,” which is something Richie once read and liked. Grey fuzzy dice hang from the ceiling because, well, every hot rod needs fuzzy dice! And just like the all-white truck before this one, Richie has matching turquoise slides he wears when he drives that never leave the driver’s area.
The truck made its official “debut” in the Reinsfelder booth at the 2022 MATS truck show, and then went directly to work. Since then, Richie has been working it hard, pulling a 2018 XL double-drop RGN trailer with a hydraulic pony motor. This trailer, painted gunmetal grey to match, features new flooring, a closed in back end, under glow lights, and tons of Mini Hero watermelon lights from RoadWorks. Richie hauls a lot of giant 362 kV (kilovolt) circuit breakers, typically destined for wind farms, along with a variety of heavy equipment, and even some large containment vessels for hazardous waste that go to nuclear power plants across the country.
In early December of 2022, in the same week, Richie not only found out that his truck was going to be parked and featured in the 4 State Trucks booth at MATS in March 2023, but he was also asked to be an ambassador for RoadWorks. Shutting the truck down in February 2023 to get it ready for the show, a new 6” exhaust system with old-style heat shields was installed, along with custom made polished stainless taillight bars (each with just one light) made by 12 Ga. Customs, new Chrome Shop Mafia mudflaps, and a turquoise fuel tank filler panel with five watermelon lights. Richie also replaced the stock grill surround with a polished stainless one, along with a punched grill from RoadWorks that includes the Reinsfelder logo in the lower corner. A classic-looking turquoise bug screen, from our friend Dane Nelson, was the final touch.
As neat as Richie’s story is, Reinsfelder’s is pretty interesting, as well. The company was formed in 1919 by Jacob A. Haser as Haser Trucking, Inc., and he delivered coal and ice with a horse and buggy. Years later, after serving time in the U.S. Navy, his son Edward J. Haser took over. In the 1950s, they bought Reinsfelder from a relative because they wanted to hire owner operators and run interstate. Back then, Haser was an intrastate operation and Reinsfelder was an interstate operation. In those days, before deregulation in the 1980s, companies and their operating routes were regulated and controlled by the government, so to change routes you had to buy them from someone already licensed to do them. Today, Edward J. Haser’s son Edward P. Haser (Eddie), who is a veteran of the U.S. Army, is the third generation to run the company.
Reinsfelder currently operates about 40 company-owned trucks and has about 60 owner operators. Their trucks are mostly 2022 KW W900s, painted white, and 2023 Peterbilt 389s, painted a variety of grey, silver, red and black colors, but most with red frames. Focusing on heavy haul work, they have an assortment of stepdecks, RGNs, flatbeds, and multi-axle units. Based in Zelienople, PA (a suburb of Pittsburgh), the company is proud of its heritage, celebrating their 100th anniversary back in 2019.
In a relationship with his girlfriend Vanessa for about a year now, Richie is happy with his work and personal life. Although one day Richie might like to see his name on the door of a truck, he is very content with his situation now. He has, from time to time, dropped hints about wanting a larger sleeper with a shower, but other than that, all is good. Working hard and never saying “no” has propelled Richie to be one of Reinsfelder’s top drivers, but when asked about it, he just says, “That’s how momma raised me to be!”
Wanting to acknowledge a few particular people, Richie wanted to say “thank you” to Eddie and Patrick at Reinsfelder, along with his daughters, who he missed a lot of time with while building this truck, Jimmy at Clearfield Customs, Kevin at Morocco Welding, Randy at Spare Time Fab, Bryan, Josh, Colton, Derek and everyone else at 4 State Trucks, and Josh and Emily at RoadWorks. Lastly, he wanted to send out a special thank you to his “brother” Sean Graves, who is not a brother by blood, but a lifelong friend that Richie considers a brother.
With a very strong work ethic and plenty of dedication, along with a deep love for trucks and trucking that started back when he was just three years old, Richie Foster hopes to be one of the people that helps keep the old school way of trucking from dying. As he put it, he wants to “keep the drive alive” – not only in himself, but in others looking to be a part of this industry, which is filled with traditions, honor, and a proud heritage that, if not fought for, will eventually fade away and be lost forever.