April 03–Frank Alegre, founder of Frank C. Alegre Trucking Inc., passed away at the age of 83 on March 25.
He is survived by his son, Tony Alegre, who now runs the family business. Tony described his father as “a visionary in the trucking world,” who treated his customers as friends.
“He was one-of-a-kind. He spoke his mind, he had a hot temper, but he was very smart. His business aptitude was unbelievable. You knew where you stood with him, good or bad,” Tony said.
Alegre started his business with one truck in 1963, Tony said.
Although a banker told Frank’s father that Frank would never be successful in the trucking industry while co-signing for that first truck, Tony added, Frank would grow his business to more than 150 trucks.
“He was a risk-taker, and most of the time they paid off. He would bid work without knowing anything about the job, because he knew he could make it work, whatever he quoted. And most of his deals were done on a handshake,” Tony said.
In 1981, Frank Alegre was eating dinner with an executive of a large concrete producer in Northern California when he mentioned that he could help the executive apply for rate reductions, Tony said. Months later, the executive took Alegre up on his offer, and approached a bank for a $2 million loan. The bank wanted a contract for a loan of that size, Tony said, but the executive would only give Frank a handshake.
“My dad went back to the bank, and they asked him if he had a contract. My dad said, ‘Well, kind of,’ and stuck out his hand to the bankers. They wound up lending my dad the money, and that catapulted him into the bulk hauling industry in the early 1980s. Those were the kinds of risks he took,” Tony said.
Although Tony purchased the business from his father in 2000, he said that Frank would still check up on them to make sure that everything was running smoothly.
“He’d always tell you everything you were doing wrong. He always said: ‘If you don’t look for what’s wrong, you’re never going to improve.’ Still, for as gruff and tough as he was, he had a heart of gold. He was a hard worker, but he always put his family first. He coached baseball and football, he made family his top priority. They don’t make them like that, anymore,” Tony said.
John Teresi, founder of Teresi Trucking, first met Frank in 1958. Teresi was hauling grain from Lodi to Petaluma at the time, he said, where it was ground into feed that Frank would haul back to Lodi. The two would frequently meet for coffee in a Petaluma restaurant early in the morning, Teresi said, which is where their friendship began.
“I was from Lodi, and he had just married a Lodi girl. They were really hard workers, him and his wife. He made a lot of noise, but he was a really generous person, his bark was worse than his bite. He was a hard worker, he was 83 and still working. I’m 80, and I’m still working,” Teresi said.
Frank also helped found Lodi Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports over 65 years ago, according to Grant Plath, recreation manager for the City of Lodi. Frank helped sponsor and coached teams, officiated games and even donated labor from his trucking company to haul dirt for field improvements, Plath said.
“Frank was instrumental in being a part of the inaugural group that got the program up and running. They started with baseball and grew to include basketball, football and soccer. Later on, his son Tony became president of the organization, so it’s been in their family for over 65 years. Frank was very persuasive, very passionate. He was sometimes a little bit brash, but when he believed in something, he jumped in all the way. Lodi will miss him, he’s done a lot for this community,” Plath said.
Lodi City Councilman Bob Johnson also remembered Frank as a passionate man, who cared deeply for his city.
“Frank was a very, very different type of guy, from a city perspective. He was never hesitant to hold your feet to the fire until he got clarification for the questions he asked. He could be gruff, he could be ornery, but he did have an interest in the City of Lodi. He also had a soft spot, he was very generous, especially toward kids. He was a figure to deal with in Lodi. He could make you mad as can be, then make you smile two seconds later,” Johnson said.
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