…with the birth of Virgilio Antonini in Castiglione Chiavarese, a small town in northern Italy. With a dream of a better life, Virgilio came to America in 1909 and made his way from the East Coast to San Francisco before settling in Stockton, California, a burgeoning agricultural community in the San Joaquin Valley. After working on a farm for a short period of time, he soon managed to purchase his own farm.
Realizing the importance of getting his and other farmers’ products to market and recognizing an opportunity to provide a necessary service to the community, Virgilio started Antonini Fruit Express in 1926, the foundation of what has become the Antonini Companies today.
As the agricultural industry grew and developed, so too did the Antonini trucking business. Vic, as Virgilio was known to his friends and associates, forged strong relationships throughout the community and the agricultural industry. Establishing a reputation for reliable transportation enabled Vic to secure contracts with several tomato and peach processors, which spurred further growth of the budding trucking company.
The family and the company were stunned by Vic’s death from pneumonia in 1951, but the values instilled in them by their father enabled them to persevere. Carrying on in their father’s tradition, Antonini Bros. Trucking continued to grow by primarily focusing on hauling agricultural commodities, with special emphasis on cannery tomatoes and peaches. They also were involved extensively in selling fertilizer and seed.
The deaths of Louis and Jack left Rudy at the helm of the blooming trucking company. Through his persistence and hard work, he guided the company through another period of strong growth and continued to nurture business relationships with old customers and develop new ones along the way.
In the mid-1980s two of Rudy’s children came to work in the business. His sons Joe and Mark who had worked in the business as youngsters during summer vacation were now college graduates and eager to grow the business. Both of them worked their way through various maintenance and operational roles to sharpen their skills in the trucking industry.
The scope of the overall operation changed dramatically in 1990 when the freight hauling division was officially formed. The business was no longer a seasonal operation and since 1990 has grown at an annual rate of 14%. Joe and Mark’s sister Karen would enter the business in 1995. As a certified public accountant, Karen complimented her two brothers by bringing in her knowledge and practical experience in the financial side of the business.
In July 2005 with business moving forward, Mark Antonini decided to switch careers. After 20 plus years in the business Mark ultimately was looking for a change of pace and took a leap of faith to try something new. That left Joe and Karen to continue running an organization that has grown into a model of a progressive corporation.
Today, the company operates two distinct divisions – agricultural hauling and general freight hauling. Two separate trucking entities operate out of five terminals utilizing 250 company owned tractors and over 800 sets of trailers.