Welcome to 10-4 Magazine’s 30th anniversary issue! Established back in September 1993, a lot has changed over the past three decades, but much remains the same. Our theme for this momentous occasion (30 Years and Still Rollin’) illustrates how we feel about reaching this milestone. If you told me back in 1993 I’d still be doing this “job” in 2023, I probably would not have believed it, but here we are! And we are bigger, better, and stronger than ever, thanks to an amazing group of contributors and loyal fans, advertisers, and supporters. Heck, we even own and operate our very own charity truck show now, too!! So, how did we get here?
Founded back in 1993 in Southern California as a local advertiser for the trucking industry, our first issue, which was published in September 1993, had no stories, was only 24 black and white pages, and was printed on thin (and messy for your fingers) newsprint paper. We printed 10,000 copies of that first issue and randomly sent them to trucking companies and supporting businesses in and around Southern California. We also began setting up racks at various places in the area, establishing our initial mass distribution network, which today has grown to over 275 locations, in about 29 states, and five different countries.
During most of our first year, being primarily a classified truck advertiser, we printed two issues a month. Our first “cover story” landed on the October 1, 1993 issue (the third edition) and was literally just that – a small black and white picture of a 1953 GMC 906 owned by Dick Huizenga, with a few sentences printed next to it right there on the cover. The April 15, 1994 issue featured our first full-page cover story printed inside the magazine (still just black and white). In the beginning, our tagline on the cover was “A Trucker’s Best Friend,” but in July 1994, after changing the name to 10-4 Express Magazine for legal reasons, we adopted the tagline “The Truck and Equipment Advertiser” and switched to a once-a-month format.
By mid-1994, spot colors had been introduced to ads inside the magazine, and the cover picture was now printed in color, as well. In May 1995 we coined the phrase, “Don’t Get In Your Truck Without It!” and used that on the cover for many years. In February 1996 we introduced a full-color cover on glossy paper, and then in November 1998 we began inserting a few full-color glossy pages of ads into the center of the book. In July 2000 we switched our name back to 10-4 Magazine (and copyrighted it) and introduced our tagline “For Today’s Trucker!” which we still use today. But our biggest addition – the two-page full-color centerfold – still had yet to make its official debut.
Making its debut in March 2001, our first centerfold featured Frank Schott’s cool turquoise and pink 1946 Kenworth hay truck. The centerfold was a huge hit that helped build our fan base – everyone loved them! Around that same time, in 2000, we debuted our first annual poster, which featured various cover trucks from the previous years. After that, each poster every year has featured the 12 covers from the previous year. We hand these posters out at the truck shows we attend all year. And speaking of truck shows, we go to a lot across the country. Supporting the culture and community of truck shows has become a cornerstone of our focus as a publication. So much so, we acquired the Truckin’ For Kids (TFK) charity truck show back in 2021 to continue the tradition that show had after 40 years of running – and so far, that has proved to be an amazing experience.
Running a truck show and going to a truck show is an entirely different experience. There are so many moving parts and details to organize, but thanks to a fantastic group of volunteers – like 40 of them – we have had two successful events and already donated $135,000 to a handful of children’s charities, with the bulk of those donations going to the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Our goal is to donate $100,000 each year from here on out, and with your help, we can do it (maybe even more). Dates for next year’s event in Irwindale, CA have been set for April 27-28, 2024, and we hope to see you there. For more details, visit www.truckinforkids.org.
For the first 25 years or so, 10-4 Magazine was a small publication with no employees and just a core of four people running almost everything – Erik “Big E” Sieben, his wife Jean, myself, and my wife Shannon. Erik and I did the photo shoots, Erik did sales, I produced the magazine and wrote most of the cover features, Jean ran the office, and Shannon was our distribution manager and helped with show support. We were a well-oiled machine that all worked together perfectly. After Erik and Jean got a divorce in 2014 things got a little more complicated, but we forged on and continued to grow and improve. Then, in 2018, Erik was diagnosed with stage 4 bladder cancer, which he was never able to recover from. Passing away on August 9, 2019, that left the three of us in charge of everything. It took time, but we learned and grew, and also brought in more people to help.
In 2016 we brought in former cover trucker (December 2003) John Testa to help build our social media and digital presence. A few years later, we started our weekly live show on Facebook and YouTube, with John as the host, which continues today. Later that same year, we brought in Stephanie Haas as a new contributor to cover truck shows and do features. Known as The Diesel Addict, Stephanie has become not only a regular contributor, but she also manages our social media pages and helps produce the magazine, along with my son, Parker, who is now in charge of the games, and more. In 2019 we brought in Eric Hill to help us at the shows and do ad sales. Over the years, Eric has proven to be a very valuable asset – especially in the Midwest – and a good friend.
Over the years (and decades), we have been blessed with an amazing group of people who help us distribute and deliver our magazines throughout the west. People like Jonathan Townsel, Hugo Ruano, Teresa Franco, Ron Kelsey, Derek Bennett, Anita Groen, and Terry Coombs head out each and every month to personally fill our racks in the seven western states (the rest we mail out). Our largest areas of distribution are the Pacific Northwest and Central California. Pioneers who helped us pave the way in the PNW include our friends James Davis, Bryan Welsh, and Ron Pettijohn. Without their tireless efforts early on in 2007 and 2008, the Pacific Northwest would not have become as influential of an area for us as it is today.
Another invaluable asset to 10-4 Magazine is our fantastic contributors. Without them, we would not have a fun publication, packed with informative and interesting stories, features, and monthly articles. Thank you to Wayne Schooling, John and Kim Jaikes, Bruce Mallinson, Clint Moore, SharLeigh, Dennis Mitchell, Trevor Hardwick, Frank Strohmyer, Art Czajkowski, Bryan Welsh, Colin Kund, Norma and Terry Hannigan, Chad Violet, Troy Miller, Eric Hill, Miss Flatbed Red, Vic Vasselin, Norman Chapman, and others for contributing amazing things over the past three decades. A few other contributors that left their mark on 10-4 include RJ Taylor, Stan Holtzman, Ken Skaggs, and Suzanne Stempinski. We are currently welcoming a new wave of contributors including Duncan Putman, Mark Harter, and Layton Henderson.
Here are some fun 10-4 facts. The only three people to have the same truck on the cover more than once are Ron Kelsey, Mike Maggini, and Nick Bruno. Ron Kelsey and his “Sunrise Express” Peterbilt 359 was featured on both our January 1998 and June 2009 covers, while Mike Maggini and his yellow and green flamed 2-axle Peterbilt 379 was on our March 2003 and March 2023 covers. Nick Bruno and his 1951 GMC Series 900 was featured on our 5th issue (way back in November 1993) and then again 25 years later on our November 2018 cover. The person with the most covers, which include a mix of his own trucks (2) and trucks he has built (3), is Jeff Botelho with five cover features. Over the past three decades we have printed 369 editions, and doing a little estimated math, we believe we have printed close to 10 million copies of 10-4 Magazine! Our longest contributor would be Wayne Schooling, who has provided a “Wayne’s World” article every month since 1994, and our longest surviving advertiser is Vic Caliva of Caliva’s Truck Wash and Polishing. Vic’s advertisement has appeared on the back cover of every issue of 10-4 since the second edition came out on September 15, 1993!!
In January 2020, our matriarch Ms. Jean Osugi, at 79 years old, decided to retire and pass all the office duties to my wife, Shannon. At that point, the “office” was moved from Jean’s home in Southern California (Huntington Beach) to ours in Central California (Dunlap). Today, at 82 years old, Jean is still a significant shareholder and owner of the magazine, and she continues to provide us insight, assist us with some of our mailing, and help us at our truck show. Another change that occurred after Erik Sieben’s death was a transfer of some ownership to his favorite nephew, Tim Sieben. Tim now owns a small portion of the magazine and is 50% owner of the TFK truck show with me. His official title is TFK Truck Show Manager, and along with me and my wife Shannon and his wife April, we all work together to make TFK run smoothly and raise lots of money for charity!
Staying relevant and moving into the digital age, without changing who and what we are, has been an important aspect of our business for the past five years. We know you folks out there love the printed magazine, and we have no plans to ever NOT print the magazine, but over the past few years, we have shifted some of our focus and growth toward the areas of mobile availability, our digital version of the magazine (which is exactly the same as our printed version and free to view on our website), improving our website, and building our digital presence with social media, our live weekly show, and live remotes from events across the country.
With rising costs in printing and distribution, our long term focus is now more on subscriptions than continuing to build our vast mass distribution network. That model worked well for us for over 25 years but is now becoming dated, hard to manage, and very expensive. We encourage our hardcore fans to jump on our website and pay for a subscription. The cost merely covers the printing and postage fees, but this will ensure that you never miss an issue, and since it gets shipped in a clear plastic sleeve, you are ensured to get a perfectly clean copy in your mailbox each and every month.
I have always said, “Showing up is half the battle!” Well, we have been “showing up” each and every month for 30 years now, and a lot of other truck publications cannot say that because they are gone. We weren’t always taken seriously as a publication because we were an independent sort of “renegade” magazine (rag) that did what we wanted, and, truth is, we still are! And we are proud of that. We have always wanted to create a fun publication that caters to real truckers and truck nuts out there – not the trucking industry and its corporate executives. We have nothing against the big companies out there, but our focus has always been on the little guys, and we plan to continue in that tradition on into the future for as long as we can.
I would like to personally thank all of you for continuing to pick up and read 10-4 Magazine. Our goal is to keep providing you with great content and information, fun stories, and cool truck (and owner) features, because the owner of the truck is as – or more – important than the truck itself! Trucking is made up of an amazing group of people who are independent, hard-working, and totally committed, no matter the cost, and that describes everyone at 10-4 Magazine, as well. Here’s to 30 more years! Thanks for being part of our history and allowing us the honor of bringing this magazine to you for three decades. Our job is to make dreams come true, but truth be told, you all have allowed mine to come true, as well. And for that, I am forever grateful. Thank you.