Owner-operator Alex Prifti’s new authority and, better yet, 1987 359

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Updated Sep 28, 2018
Connecticut-based owner-operator Alex Prifti’s 359 and step deck trailerConnecticut-based owner-operator Alex Prifti’s 359 and step deck trailer

The picture above shot up on my phone a couple nights ago from likewise independent flatbedder Joe Bielucki, who noted he’d met the rig’s owner some time back and had been impressed with owner-operator Alex Prifti’s back-to-basics approach (old-school as a general rule) and clear aptitude for success in trucking.

Prifti went out with his authority and a step deck earlier this year after some years of experience hauling frameless dump around the lower 48, close to the opposite of Bielucki’s typical, mostly-within-100-air-miles short-haul steel runs in and around his Connecticut home base. (About which, a little more later.)

Before the two met, Prifti had taken note of Bielucki’s 2004 Kenworth T800 daycab — “it’s a small truck” compared to Prifti’s own sleeper unit, he says, but “I would see Joe around the state, and the way he keeps his truck – spick and span — I knew, ‘that’s not just any other guy.'”Before the two met, Prifti had taken note of Bielucki’s 2004 Kenworth T800 daycab — “it’s a small truck” compared to Prifti’s own sleeper unit, he says, but “I would see Joe around the state, and the way he keeps his truck – spick and span — I knew, ‘that’s not just any other guy.'”

Ultimately, the two — more than 20 years separating the elder Bielucki, who’s in his early 50s, from 1986-born Prifti — became friends talking at some of the antique truck shows and other times their paths crossed.

Prifti told me a bit of the story behind the classic 359, with origins in Pennsylvania.

He located it by way of a friend who’d seen the rig over time parked in Maine, where it’d been used in a logging operation. Toward the end of its time there the friend also noted it had newly acquired a for-sale sign in the window. Prifti, ultimately, picked it up in March of 2012 and later put it into service. It’s pictured here after he’d picked up a step deck earlier this year and started running with his authority as High Standard Transportation, in June.He located it by way of a friend who’d seen the rig over time parked in Maine, where it’d been used in a logging operation. Toward the end of its time there the friend also noted it had newly acquired a for-sale sign in the window. Prifti, ultimately, picked it up in March of 2012 and later put it into service. It’s pictured here after he’d picked up a step deck earlier this year and started running with his authority as High Standard Transportation, in June. It’s a tough truck, Prifti notes — when he hauled dump trailers with it, one fateful morning he found himself unloading peat moss on just the slightest of inclines. Given how slow that particular commodity is to make it’s way out of the trailer, and a variety of other factors, the worst happened that particular Tuesday early morning, the sun just on the horizon and hampering visibility in his mirrors. “I rolled it over” on its side, he says. When a crew got it back upright, “I dumped the rest of the load out,” fixed a broken tank strap, bracket and sleeper boot, and “was back hauling by Thursday.” Later inspection showed the frame out of alignment by about an inch, which also got fixed. “Otherwise, there was barely a scratch. I had to do zero body work. The truck is tough as nails.”It’s a tough truck, Prifti notes — when he hauled dump trailers with it, one fateful morning he found himself unloading peat moss on just the slightest of inclines. Given how slow that particular commodity is to make it’s way out of the trailer, and a variety of other factors, the worst happened that particular Tuesday early morning, the sun just on the horizon and hampering visibility in his mirrors. “I rolled it over” on its side, he says. When a crew got it back upright, “I dumped the rest of the load out,” fixed a broken tank strap, bracket and sleeper boot, and “was back hauling by Thursday.” Later inspection showed the frame out of alignment by about an inch, which also got fixed. “Otherwise, there was barely a scratch. I had to do zero body work. The truck is tough as nails.” Owner-operator Prifti (left) with Joe Bielucki at a truck show this past Spring.Owner-operator Prifti (left) with Joe Bielucki at a truck show this past Spring.

As for Bielucki, regular readers may well recall his tour through the sleep apnea engine — I wrote about Bielucki’s proactive step ahead of implementation of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners several years back. At that time, as he discovered through work with a sleep doc, he was in fact experiencing apnea and entered into CPAP treatment and focused on losing weight in hopes of mitigating the condition.

After later getting on a one-year re-up of his medical certification, often the reality for CDL holders who are using CPAP machines to treat apnea, Bielucki continued his efforts to lose weight to the point that, today, he says, he uses the machine no longer and is back to a two-year certification.

All of which proves, of course, it can be done, and his is not the only such story I’ve heard over the years.

Bielucki also got some good news in what “has been a weird year” for his flatbed business, he says, what with steel tariff announcements and implementation and ongoing shifts in freight patterns with steel coming into the Northeast from foreign and domestic mills, the latter of which Bielucki says have been churning out steel and moving it by rail and, soon for him, by barge. Some of those domestic mills — he spoke of one in particular in the Southeast — are getting “burned on the rail” costs and, next week, “the first barge is coming in with 75 loads,” ultimately bound for a facility to which he hauls.

Incoming copper, too, is moving to the water ultimately bound for a wire mill he says is cranking back up in his area, after scant activity since the 2008 crash. He may be trucking some of that from the New Haven port in the near future, too, he says.

As always, the times they just keep on a’changin’, eh?

A lot stays the same. On that note, here’s a final shot of Prifti’s rig:

Heavy Truck Hauling Cargo

Stay safe out there …

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