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Milk Hauling – An Industry that Never Sleeps

The Roots of Winters Milk Haulers

Both from the small town of Lisbon, New York, Matt and Phil have been friends since their early school days. Raised on farms, they were ingrained with the "hard work pays" mentality from a young age. As time went on, they ventured into various careers, each one always demanding a healthy dose of grit, from construction to mechanics and even grain farming.


Matt’s journey in milk hauling started with a nudge from his father-in-law, Kevin, who is coincidently also Phil’s uncle. Kevin helped Matt get his commercial driver’s license (CDL) to haul animal feed to local operations when shortly after, Matt’s interest in the milk-hauling business was piqued – and the rest is history.


"I’ve been here for about 14 years," said Matt. "But that’s nothing compared to where Winters Milk Haulers started." 


Based in Lisbon, New York, Winters Milk Haulers and its rich history traces back to 1970 when it was founded by Matt’s grandfather-in-law, Ronnie. Ronnie led the business for 43 years before his well-earned retirement in 2013. It was at this time that Matt and Kevin bought Winters Milk Haulers from him and transitioned the operations into a new era.


As 2020 brought a halt to many things in the world, Kevin recognized the need for a seamless transition to the next generation and contemplated passing the keys. Matt and Phil took on the role of co-owners with enthusiasm and a deep respect for the business’s legacy.


Matt, being involved with Winters Milk Haulers for years prior, knew the business inside out and what it took to be successful. When assuming the role of co-owners, Matt and Phil rooted their strategy in the same values once practiced by Ronnie and Kevin.


"Today, our operations look a bit different every day," Matt explained. "Our primary goal is to get through the night without any phone calls from drivers experiencing route complications or delivery issues." 

"Our fleet operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Winters Milk Haulers covers extensive ground, with routes stretching nearly 300 miles."

- Matt

"Because of this, we are in constant communication with our drivers to ensure a smooth flow of operations."


Respecting a Legacy While Passing the Keys

Being a multigenerational family operation is at the core of Winters Milk Haulers’ business philosophy. "It is something we discuss frequently," said Matt. "Ronnie was really proud of the business he built and always wanted it to stay within the family." 


He continued, "To us, multigenerational means building a sustainable business that grows with you. So, we’ve built a new office to accommodate our growing needs and added in components we never had prior." 


This growth also includes an expanded delivery radius and a team that has grown from 7 to 25 employees. 


"We have been able to push our delivery radius out, which six or seven years ago would not have been an option for us," said Phil. Many factors played a role in doing so, but the biggest they shared was the choice to upgrade their fleet with the Western Star 49X. 


Maintaining a close connection with each driver is something Matt and Phil recognized as important as the team is the backbone of their daily operations. One way they do this is by empowering drivers with the option to design their own truck wraps. 


"It started off with a senior driver wanting something unique and we recognized this as an opportunity to let drivers make each truck their own," explained Matt. "We try to aim to keep the paint schemes somewhat cohesive, but otherwise, we leave all other design details up to the driver." 


Not only does this add a personalized flair for their drivers, but it has turned into a key branding element for Winters Milk Haulers, making them easily recognizable on the road whether the trucks are lime green or have a wacky design.

An Unconventional Love Story With the 49X

As Winters Milk Haulers evolved over the years, so has its fleet. Ronnie and Kevin's relationship with the Daimler Truck portfolio initially started with a love for Freightliner Coranados. When it was time for Matt to purchase his own truck, he opted for a Western Star 4900 – marking a pivotal moment for Winters Milk Haulers.


When the 4900 was to be discontinued, Matt and Phil were a bit disappointed, as the truck had become a reflection of their business. The two were familiar with the model and how to make it perform best for Winters Milk Haulers.


As they do with all truck decisions, Matt and Phil leaned on their dealer for guidance on what to purchase in place of the 4900, which led them to the purchase of three Western Star 49X trucks.


"It really took some good convincing that the 49X would be the next best thing for us," said Matt. "Our dealer was strong on the fact that driver comfort and convenience were really enhanced. Visibility, too."

"We got our drivers in the new trucks to try them out, and it was unanimous that the 49X was much more driver-friendly, making their day-to-days a bit easier on them all."

- Phil

"Especially for the long hauls, drivers were feeling less fatigued as they felt it took a lot less out of them to drive the vehicle, which in turn made them feel less stressed throughout the day and overall allowed them to perform better for Winters Milk Haulers."


The nature of the milk hauling business is dependent on the farms they’re working with and, a lot of times, drivers are waiting around for loads to be processed, so the enhanced comfort has improved their experience doing so.


Having a tough, reliable truck is something they both deem as non-negotiable for navigating the challenging winter conditions in the Northeast. Winters Milk Haulers’ trucks face all the elements, especially heavy loads of snow. Oftentimes, their drivers are on the roads before snowplows, making their mark on wintry terrain with true grit.

"All of our Western Star trucks over the years have been extremely durable, so it makes us happy that our new 49Xs are just as comparable and assures us they will be a part of our fleet for a long time."

- Phil

"We’ve also had far less maintenance needs with these trucks, which has not only saved us time, but lots of money."


Matt and Phil faced this decision to try something new, as many others do in the industry, and both are extremely happy with their choice to do so. "It’s all a part of the next generation of business," said Matt. "I’ve taken what I’ve learned from my grandfather-in-law and father-in-law to help me make decisions for my business today."


With three more 49X trucks on the way, they’re looking forward to continuing to upgrade their fleet to better serve their business. Matt and Phil, having been inspired by their former generations, are eager to pass on the business to their children, ensuring the proud tradition of Winters Milk Haulers continues for years to come.



Western Star logo that features 'Serious Trucks' in white text and a red star against a gray background.