For truck drivers, there is an old saying: “Have pride in your drive.” Perhaps that’s nowhere more evident than on the streets of San Francisco for the Matagrano Inc. drivers who distribute beer and non-alcoholic beverages in the Bay Area.
“Every day, tourists come up to our drivers and ask if they can get their pictures taken with our trucks,” smiled Frank Matagrano, co-owner of the company. “That says something about the quality equipment we run and the colorful graphics splashed on the rigs, which includes gold leaf lettering. It really makes us proud of our Kenworths and gives our drivers a sense of pride as well.”
Celebrating its 40th year of business, Matagrano Inc. is an Anheuser-Busch InBev distributor and delivers more than 5 million cases in 1,400 SKUs (stock-keeping units) each year. It distributes to upwards of 5,000 customers, ranging from mom-and-pop liquor stores, to grocery chains and big-box stores.
Over the years, the company has tried different brand trucks, but is now standardizing on the Kenworth T370.
“They make a difference,” said Matagrano. “They’re built like a brick – they don’t fall apart and they’re reliable. I can tell you we’ve never towed a Kenworth home, but we have towed other brands back to the yard.”
According to Matagrano, reliability is a critical factor for not only his company and its reputation with customers, but also for its drivers. “Some drivers work four 10-hour days and they get to choose how they’re paid – by the hour, or by the case delivered. So, if their pay is based on deliveries, you can bet they want to climb into a truck that they can count on. And, one that’s comfortable. Most of our drivers make between 12 to 35 stops per day, depending upon the route. That’s a lot of get in and get out and the drivers say the trucks are as comfortable as they are attention-getting.”
The latest of the 17 Kenworth T370s, purchased through NorCal Kenworth – San Leandro, are equipped with PACCAR PX-9 engines, rated at 300-hp, driven through automatic transmissions, and feature 12-bay bodies. The company also runs some T370 tractors with 16- to 18-bay delivery trailers. For “big-box” store deliveries, the company uses several Kenworth T660 day cabs, hauling 45-foot bay van trailers.
While the quality of trucks is important to Matagrano, so is dealer support.
“In our area we have federal clean air incentives given to the state of California to take older trucks off the road, replacing them with new trucks,” said Matagrano. “NorCal Kenworth, our dealer, has been absolutely instrumental in understanding the grants and helping us take advantage of the clean air initiatives. It’s saved us a lot of time navigating through the paperwork in order to make it work. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
From Hops to Vineyards
Frank Matagrano not only co-owns a bustling beer distributorship, he has followed another passion – growing grapes for wine. For 25 years, he has owned a vineyard, cultivating Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, and Vermentino grapes. With production up to 40 tons per year, you’ll find the fruit of Matagrano’s labor in Lava Cap, Windwalker and Morse wines.
Matagrano has his own dedicated 27-foot trailer for wine transport and uses one of his company Kenworth T370 tractors for hauling duties. The pilot? Matagrano himself. “The T370 I drive is a sweetheart of a truck,” he said. “The crop is coming in early this year, so I’ll be behind the wheel in a few weeks making deliveries,” he added.
Besides loving what’s he’s doing in both beverage industries, Matagrano said driving a big rig is also very fun. “This way I get to test drive new trucks coming in, and see exactly what our drivers are getting. These Kenworths are just great trucks.”