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Biagi Bros.

787 Airpark Road, Napa, CA 94558

707-251-9990

biagibros.com

Founded: 1977

Employees: 600-plus

Fleet: 270 tractors, 750 trailers and 28 food-grade insulated and noninsulated tankers

Warehousing: 3.5 million square feet

Distribution centers: 20


The Biagi brothers are Greg and Fred Jr., who started their family-run, Napa-based business after driving truck right out of high school. With hard work (driving truck day and night) and a little luck (an offer from Beringer Vineyards) they grew from a one truck operation to a nationwide trucking, warehousing and logistics company that includes customers Anhueser-Busch and Constellation Brands.

Now, with seven family members working for Biagi Bros., it keeps them close and is good for business.

“Our grandmother keeps us grounded and tells us ‘you have to remember that it’s not the norm, what you have is really special,’ said Stacey Biagi, Greg’s daughter, and spokesperson for the company.

The big companies, like Anhueser, want to be able to talk to the owner if there’s a problem, said Greg Biagi, CEO.

“They want you to jump when they call. If they are working with another big company their size, it’s difficult to do that. With companies that have big boards, it’s hard for them to make decisions quickly. So, I think they like dealing with us because we’re family-owned,” he said.

Biagi Bros. drives for wineries, breweries, juice manufacturers, and dairies, and has transportation hubs across the country in Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois. In California locations include Van Nuys, Ontario and Benicia.

This past year the company expanded with four more warehouses, in Fairfield, Sonoma, Fresno, and Jacksonville, Fla. Another 450,000-square-foot warehouse in Hutchins, Tex., located about nine miles south of Dallas will be completed in spring 2017.

While trucking accounts for about 40 percent of the business, fifty percent is warehousing. About ten percent is a mixed bag of real estate, freight brokerage, horse racing, NASCAR, wine, and maintenance businesses, said Nick Biagi, Fred’s son, and director of information technology and accounts.

Their success in warehousing is partly due to what they call a secondary production, fixing a problem with a product after it comes off the production line. This includes repackaging, relabeling, applying foil to a bottle neck, and quality inspections for leaking bottles and bad corks. The service is performed within the Biagi warehouses.

“It’s a necessity for sure. Think about it, if you’re a customer and you need to have everything re-packed a different way, to have your warehousing company facilitate that for you is ideal, right? Where else would you go?” said Stacey Biagi, who works alongside cousin Nick.

“If we couldn’t do it we’d have to pay to ship it out, pay them to do it and pay them to ship it back,” Nick added.

The two brothers were influenced by their father, Fred senior, who, after WWII, worked his way up from sweeping the docks to president of a trucking company.

After high school in the 1970’s, sons Greg and Fred Jr. started driving trucks, then sold everything to buy a used truck. They drove day and night, and ran billing and dispatch out of their mother’s kitchen.

“When we were there, during a certain time of the day we had to answer the phone ‘Biagi Brothers’,” said Stacey Biagi. “We’re not going to lie to you. They don’t know anything else.”

Eventually the brothers bought two more trucks and hired a driver.

Customers back then included Asante Sparkling Mineral Water in Napa, and Clover Stornetta Farms in Sonoma, but their biggest customer was Beringer Vineyards, for whom they were trucking the overflow and managing its warehouse in Benicia. Beringer had eight or so trucks, and in 1976 the winery decided to quit trucking and concentrate on winemaking. It offered the Biagi’s the opportunity to purchase its trucks and to hire its drivers. The two went from owning three to 11 trucks pretty much overnight, and that changed everything.

Biagi Bros.

787 Airpark Road, Napa, CA 94558

707-251-9990

biagibros.com

Founded: 1977

Employees: 600-plus

Fleet: 270 tractors, 750 trailers and 28 food-grade insulated and noninsulated tankers

Warehousing: 3.5 million square feet

Distribution centers: 20

Fred Sr. eventually retired, then went to work for his sons. He was instrumental in running the secondary production.

“He thought that would really take them to another level in warehousing to have that secondary area,” said Stacey Biagi.

One of their first customers as a warehouser was Anheuser-Busch, which came about by default when the beer giant bought Asante. When the beer giant got into the metal can business, the Biagis started warehousing the cans nation-wide.

“That’s when we really got into the warehouse business. There were billions of cans,” Greg Biagi said.

The company is not without challenges. The biggest is keeping up with California’s emissions laws, the toughest in the nation, according to the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board.

By Jan.1, 2023, nearly all trucks and buses will need to have 2010 model year engines or equivalent.

Over the last five years, the company has replaced nearly all trucks.

Being hit hard with the ever-changing emissions laws on big trucks has had an affect on the trucking business in the state.

“It’s kind of a dying thing in California,” Stacey Biagi said. “You can’t have a truck older than 2007, which isn’t old. Guys keep their trucks for millions of miles.”

Older trucks are also not allowed across state lines unless they pass emission tests. Carriers get around that by dropping trailers for example in Reno, and California carriers come and pick them up.

Another challenge these days is finding enough drivers, especially in Napa and Sonoma counties.

While the automatic transmission trucks are easier to drive, the high cost of living in Napa and Sonoma is a detriment.

“It’s hard to live in Napa and Sonoma and become a truck driver,” Greg Biagi said.

The Biagi’s have donated a truck to Santa Rosa Junior College’s commercial truck driving program, in an effort to alleviate the shortage.

Greg Biagi stopped driving truck in about 1986 and still misses it. Every now and then he will get behind the wheel, although he isn’t all that fond of the new trucks.

“They’re automatic. After you drove stick shift all those years… Its way easier to drive, however, and they’re better trucks,” he said.

Cynthia Sweeney covers health care, hospitality, residential real estate, education, employment and business insurance. Reach her at Cynthia.Sweeney@busjrnl.com or call 707-521-4259.