Paul Ninno drives his tractor trailer to New York City and back every day — an average of 500 miles. That’s a lot of driving. But it’s all in a day’s work for Ninno, a lifelong truck driver who is aiming for his second entry onto a rare list in his profession: driving one million miles in the same truck.
Ninno, a 20-year employee of Riccelli-Northern, a Syracuse, NY-based provider of transportation, mining, and materials handling services, said he told the owners in 2014 when he got the truck that he would take it the distance.
“I told them, I’ll get you one million miles out of the truck before I retire,” said Ninno, 63, who has three more years of driving before he hangs up his keys. “It had 21 miles on it when I started, now it has 818,000.”
Ninno, who was born in Liverpool, NY, and currently lives in North Syracuse, went to college for criminal justice. He never planned to be a professional truck driver, but he got a job offer to do it while he was in school, and the pay was so good he stayed. In his 40-year career, he’s lived in the US and Canada, managed two trucking companies, and driven every sort of truck to locations throughout the eastern US, from New York to Florida.
He started with a walking floor truck hauling trash, then got into a dump trailer. He’s driven flow boy trucks, fracking trucks, DOT salt trucks, and all the various construction vehicles. Working with Riccelli-Northern, Ninno has not only hauled every type of construction material there is, he has also driven trucks for emergency services cleanup and hauling work in the aftermath of winter storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. “I’ve been all over — all the way down to Key West,” he said. “The first hurricane cleanup I did was Katrina; I’ve done them all: Sandy, Michael, Irene. You see the pictures on the TV, but when you get there and see all the people displaced, it’s pretty heart-wrenching.”
For seven years, Ninno’s truck has been a 2014 Peterbilt 579 tractor trailer, which he jokingly calls a “bread truck,” because it is not as big as a 379. “It runs extremely well,” he said. Of course, all vehicles need maintenance and can break down from time to time, especially heavy trucks used for hard work. Nearing one million miles of use, Ninno’s truck is no different.
“I’d have one million miles already, but it’s been down a couple of months for repair, so I’m in a lull right now” he said, citing engine trouble that currently has the rig sidelined. “You’ll have issues with anything, that’s the nature of the beast. Your preventative maintenance has everything to do with it. When I get the truck back, I’ll put the million miles on it.”
Until then, he’s still driving every day, just in a different truck.
Ninno previously drove a truck over one million miles — 1,259,000 to be exact — but that engine had been rebuilt along the way, while the Riccelli-Northern truck is all original. “I treat the equipment like it’s my own; I don’t beat it up,” Ninno said. “It’s my office on wheels, you know? When the truck runs, I work.”
Riccelli-Northern president and COO Richard J. Riccelli, Sr. said he is impressed but not surprised by Ninno’s impending milestone. “This is an amazing achievement for Paul, and I can’t wait for the repairs to finish so he can get back in his truck and cross the finish line,” Riccelli said. “This really shows our dedication to quality — in our employees, our work ethic, and the job we do for our customers. We’re always looking for great drivers like Paul and excellent mechanics to help keep our fleet up-to-date, safe, and on the road.”
Ninno said he likes working at Riccelli-Northern, where he’s been for two decades since he was hired under Joe Riccelli, the company founder. “I get along with everyone; I’ve known Rich a long time and have a good relationship with him, and I love Joe to death. I’m happy here; I work every day; I make a great paycheck. If I have a problem I call, and if nobody answers they call me back,” Ninno said. “It’s a nice relationship. I tell a lot of people that it’s a great place to work.”
Ninno said that when his truck is repaired, he will get back on the road and finish his million-mile goal. And when he reaches age 66, he plans to retire. “My wife and I just want to go someplace warm,” he said with a laugh. “And with less taxes.”
Riccelli-Northern is now hiring Class A & B construction and ready-mix drivers, and offering a $1,600 sign-on bonus.
For more information about Riccelli-Northern, visit www.riccelli-northern.com.
If you would like more information on this story or would like to interview Paul Ninno and/or Richard Riccelli, please contact Paul Amodio, chief information officer, at 315-433-5115 ext. 217 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.