Getting All the Dirt: MAG Trucking, Inc.

Posted by John Torres on Mar 18, 2015


There is far more to the trucking business than meets the eye. This became clear during a recent conversation with Debbie Ferrari, estimator and soil specialist at MAG Trucking, Inc., a trusted Graniterock supplier based in Hayward. “Off haul and disposal are one of our company’s primary services,” Debbie explained. “There is a lot of paperwork and documentation that goes into what might seem to be the simple process of taking a scoop of dirt out of the ground and putting it into a truck.”

“Soil needs to be tested properly, and to assure valid test results the prior use of its source must be considered. It is also essential to check carefully to be sure that the receiving site is actually allowed to take the material and that we know everything we should know about the material and the site. Dumping soil in a responsible way is critical – we want to be sure there is no future liability for anyone involved in the project. We are in this for the long term, and we maintain detailed documentation to be able to prove that the soil was dumped appropriately and legally.” 

Each job is a little different, but on construction projects, trucking is often a significant cost, as hauling and dumping dirt can be expensive. Debbie’s attention to customer service is exceptional, and she excels at finding dump sites at competitive prices. If you ever want to learn who needs fill dirt or where to dispose of excess dirt, give a trucking company a call – they have the answer.

“We have found that this is a way to be competitive and get better work for our drivers,” Debbie said. MAG Trucking beats its competition with the superior customer service they provide. You can always reach Debbie and she has several dispatchers and field supervisors available to help the jobs go smoothly. Gary Smithart, Eli Amezcua, and Lynn Stratvm are key operations people. “We are continually working the phones to solve problems when there are challenging jobs. Doing it right from the beginning so that you don’t find out later that you have a big problem – that’s my main focus,” says Debbie. “That means continually working with drivers to maintain and improve performance and doing everything we can to help the customer. We understand how critical work such as grinding and paving is, and we give it special attention.”

Company president Joe VanDera came to California from Wisconsin in 1979 and started working with two local trucking companies. Joe bought his own truck and did a little bit of driving, but he found that the equipment was old and outdated. Joe’s brother Denis soon joined him and the brothers eventually decided to buy the business together. Denis was able to use his mechanical abilities to gradually update the vehicle fleet while Joe managed the office and operations.

Debbie was hired as a bookkeeper at MAG Trucking 23 years ago. She arrived with experience in trucking and account management and a passion for great customer service. “Early on I found that in order to be competitive I needed to come up with more to help my customers,” recalls Debbie. “I had a source for dirt and I offered it to one of my customers, which helped them get the job.” Debbie believes another key to MAG Trucking’s success is their business discipline. “We have specific bookkeeping and filing systems, with more procedures and structure than most trucking firms. We try to make sure the owner-operators who pull our trailers will make as much money as they can so that they will be available in the future.”

MAG Trucking operates in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, with additional limited coverage outside the Bay Area. Many basements and parking garages are currently being dug in this region. “Dirt hauling tends to be more private work, and we don’t rely on public work as much as we once did. However, public works are still critical for our business” says Debbie. “The dirt goes to various locations – jobs that are low on fill, or perhaps a reclamation project.” 

Debbie is high energy and doesn’t spend a lot of time just relaxing. She and Denis, who have been together for close to twenty years, are active in a Viper car club and preparing to go to a car event in Detroit this year. “I exercise a lot and try to find time to play with my beautiful 3-year old granddaughter, Shelby.”

Debbie also describes herself as “fairly active with UCON, the United Contractors Association, serving on a committee which plans fundraiser events to benefit lobbying at the state level on behalf of the association. We watch for relevant laws, decide whether or not to support them, and work to get comments from our members on legislation that can impact our industry.”

“Our relationship with Graniterock has grown over time,” says Debbie. “We greatly appreciate the people that work at Graniterock and we will continue to do everything that we can to be helpful in every instance.There is mutual respect between our companies and we both try to make our projects as fruitful as possible, with good give and take so we can come up the best results.” 


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