Building A Liquid Legacy

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Building a legacy for your children and grandchildren gets more important as you get older.  Billy Ezernack (47) of Kerman, CA has always had a giving spirit, and throughout his life he has done a lot for his fellow truckers, his local community, and many others.  Having enjoyed a fruitful and fulfilling life up to now, his mission and long-term goal from here is to build a legacy for future generations in his family – and he plans to accomplish much of that through his trucking business, which primarily hauls liquid fertilizer.  One might say, he’s looking to build a “liquid legacy” for his kids and their kids!

Born in Fresno, CA in 1975, Billy “Spanky” Ezernack was raised in a trucking family.  Both of his grandfathers were truck drivers in Central California.  His grandfather on his mother’s side, Louie Nonini, was a full-blooded Cajun who moved to California from Louisiana.  Louie, along with Billy’s grandfather on his father’s side, Joe Ezernack, both drove cabover Freightliner truck and trailers for Harris Ranch, hauling cattle and sheep.  Billy’s father, Bill, also hauled cattle, but he drove a 2-axle cabover Freightliner and pulled a set of doubles for Dave Wood.

At a young age, Billy’s parents divorced.  After that, his mother did not want to call him Billy because it reminded her too much of his father, so she started calling him Spanky.  At the time, the Little Rascals was a popular TV show, and Billy was short, pudgy, and always wore a baseball cap (like Spanky on the show), so the nickname made sense.  To this day, Billy’s mom still calls him Spanky, and many of his longtime friends and past classmates don’t even know his real name.  To them, he is just Spanky.  But we will call him Billy, here.

At just four or five years of age, Billy fondly remembers playing in his dad’s trailer with his friends, using it as a fort and such, sometimes while it was still dirty from the last load of cattle he had hauled.  Billy would go trucking with his dad whenever he could, and he loved it.  After his parent’s got divorced, Billy spent every other weekend and some holidays with his dad, a popular post-divorce visitation schedule back in those days that I can personally relate to.

When Billy was eight years old, his mother, Debbie, got remarried to a great guy named Butch Rusconi in 1983.  They are still married today, and Billy considers himself lucky to have this man in his life.  Living in Firebaugh, CA at the time, after the two got married, the family (Billy and his two sisters) moved to the small town of San Joaquin, which is about 45 miles west of Fresno, CA.  Billy credits both his dads for his upbringing.  Together, they taught him the value of hard work, honesty, and the importance of giving back, along with other great traits.

Butch, Billy’s stepdad, was a farmer who grew cotton and alfalfa, and he also ran a fleet of cotton modules, which are machines that harvest cotton and then compress it into large modules, which are then covered and stored at the edge of the field.  Then, the modules are loaded onto trucks and transported to a cotton gin.  This was a very lucrative business that only operated for about four months a year, but they made enough money in those four months to not have to really do any other work the rest of the year (besides running their farming operation).

At the ripe old age of 13 years old, Billy’s dad was letting him drive when out on the open road, and at 14 he let him drive, pulling doubles, all the way to Richmond, CA in the Bay area.  By the time he was 15 years old, Billy was already a pro!  Wherever his dad went, there was Billy.  Thankfully, Billy’s dad and stepdad always got along great, so that made life a little easier on this impressionable young man.  At 15 years old, Billy decided to move in with his dad, and at 17 years old, he left school to work on Butch’s ranch full time but continued his final year of school on a home studies program, eventually earning his high school diploma.  After Billy turned 18, his dad decided to move to Louisiana, so from then on, Billy has been on his own and taking care of himself.  But those three years living with his dad were very formidable for Billy.  Tragically, in 2002, his dad was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Moving to Kerman, CA (another nearby small town) when he was 18, Billy met a truck driver named Dave Couto.  Dave hauled hay for Foglio Hay Sales, and Billy hung out with him for about a week, going out on the road with him, and fell in love with hay hauling.  Eventually, the owner, Americo Foglio, asked Billy if he wanted a job.  Not having his CDL yet, Americo said he would help him get it.  After Billy got his license, Americo immediately put him in a 1964 Peterbilt COE truck and trailer with no power steering and a 13-speed transmission – talk about baptism by fire!  But Billy learned quick, and he loved it.

Running all over Central California and down to Blythe, after driving that ‘64 Pete for about three years, Billy eventually graduated to a 1983 Freightliner conventional truck and trailer.  Billy worked at Foglio Hay Sales for ten years, and over that time, Americo taught him a lot about life and trucking and became yet another amazing father-figure in Billy’s life.  Americo always told him, “If you ever start your own company, run nice equipment, don’t run junk, treat people good, and people will notice.”  And all these years later, that is exactly what Billy is doing.  Looking back, Billy said those years of hauling hay were some of the best times of his life.

In 2003, Billy was given an opportunity to be a dispatcher for Wilbur-Ellis, a global fertilizer company, at their location in Helm, CA – and he took it!  Hauling hay was awesome, but he wasn’t making much money and this opportunity was just too good to pass up.  A few years later, in 2006, Billy’s boss, Ray Maul, encouraged Billy to buy a truck and begin hauling their products.  Seizing this opportunity, as well, Billy bought a 1998 Freightliner FLD and a tanker trailer and formed Double E Trucking.  Putting a driver in the truck, Uriel Paramo, who is still with Billy today, he continued working at Wilbur-Ellis and running his truck operation on the side.

Running his own trucks and dispatching for the fertilizer company for years, Billy finally retired from Wilbur-Ellis on December 31, 2019.  At that time, he had amassed five trucks and five tankers, along with five flatbeds, and had five great drivers, which he still has today.  Over that period of time, Billy’s “side hustle” expanded to hauling for other fertilizer companies, selling fertilizer, hauling almonds, and dust control (this part of his operation actually began before the trucking company and now includes five spreader trucks).  Billy also does some almond growing and has about 150 acres of trees.

Today, Billy and Double E Trucking have five very cool trucks, including the one featured on our cover and centerfold this month and on these pages here.  Those trucks include a white 2014 Peterbilt 386 with yellow stripes, a white 2016 Peterbilt 389 with green stripes and purple accents, a green 2017 Peterbilt 389, the metallic grey and metallic black 2018 Peterbilt 389 featured here, and a “Cool Grey” 2022 Peterbilt 389 with a turquoise stripe.  Billy has five West-Mark tanker trailers for hauling the liquid fertilizer, and five flatbeds, which he uses to haul almonds loaded in large wood bins (they haul about 40 million pounds of almonds each year for El Dorado Almonds).

The featured truck here is the first one Billy spec’d out and ordered exactly what he wanted.  All of his other trucks were just trucks that were on the lot when he went to the dealership.  This one was ordered through Kevin Green at E.M. Tharp in Fresno, CA.  Ordered with the two-tone metallic factory paint mentioned before, the 2018 Peterbilt 389 has a 36” flattop sleeper, a 275” wheelbase, and is powered by a 500-hp ISX Cummins hooked to a 13-speed.  Having it shipped directly to Pickett Custom Trucks in Arizona after it was built to be customized, the truck arrived with only one fuel tank, no exhaust, and no front bumper.  From there, Rod Pickett and his talented team went to work.

Giving it that “Pickett” touch, the truck was lowered, fitted with Pickett-style oversized hole wheels, a painted drop visor, Pickett’s famous dual square headlights with the blinkers shaved off the ends, and a set of 8-inch Dynaflex stacks with – you guessed it – Pickett elbows.  They also chopped the breather screens and added breather light panels, front and back, installed a 20-inch Valley Chrome bumper with a flip kit, under-glow lights, added a second fuel tank and painted them both, and a painted deck plate with recessed connections.  Other accessories added were smooth step boxes with billet step plates, painted drop panels, seven grill bars, five cab lights, and polished stainless Hogebuilt full fenders with lights bars, front and rear.

Inside the cab, which was built with a full gauge package, Legacy Lo leather seats were ordered in black and grey and bolted down, a billet steering wheel and billet foot pedals were added, four watermelon lights were mounted overhead, the dash panels were painted metallic grey, and a nice sound system was installed, which includes a Pioneer head unit hooked to (2) 12-inch subs, (2) mid-range speakers, and (2) tweeters for the highs.  Jake out of Fresno added all the lime green, purple, and burnt orange lettering and pinstriping by hand to the exterior of the truck, the back of the trailer, all over the dash and steering column, and other various places in the cab and sleeper.

Primarily hooked to the 2018 West-Mark tanker trailer seen here with a polished front and back (soon to be all polished), this unit has been spruced-up a lot, too.  It features polished plumbing, fittings, and valves underneath, 14 lights on each side, lots of under-glow lights, polished stainless steel full fenders, large-hole wheels like on the tractor, painted hose tubes and ladder, and a laser-engraved panel on the back with the Double E Trucking logo cut into it.  Also on the rear of the trailer is a large panel that says “Liquid Mafia” in bright colors.

Because Billy and Double E have always had nice equipment and haul a lot of products for a lot of different companies, people have jokingly accused them of “having connections” like mobsters.  Someone used the term “Liquid Mafia” and the name just stuck.  At one point, Billy even had the name trademarked.  During covid, they sold a bunch of their shirts and hats and donated the money to a local Down’s syndrome charity called “Live Like Dante” to help the cause.  But giving back has always been a part of Billy’s way of living.

Wanting to give back to their community, in 2012 they started a foundation called “Feed The People” and began organizing a free monthly meal for the members of their community (or anyone for that matter).  On the first Sunday of each month, at their shop in Kerman, they cooked a full meal including hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, soda or water, and cookies, and offered it to whoever came.  On a typical Sunday, they fed between 300-400 people!  This was not a meal for the homeless, per se, but they were welcome to join.  This was simply a time and a place for people to sit and break bread together, regardless of their occupation or station in life.  They did this for nine years, until the pandemic forced them to stop.  They hope to restart the program again as soon as possible.

Family is very important to Billy – in fact, it is THE most important thing to him.  Married to his wife MaryAnn since 2006, they have four daughters – Andrea (27) and her husband Joseph, who have two young daughters named Camillia (3) and Catalina (1), Aaliyah (24), Sierra (21), and Billie Ann (16).  The grand babies live just three houses down the road, so they are always at Billy’s place, and he absolutely loves that.  All the girls either work or go to school (or both) and all are very independent.

When it comes to hobbies and such, Billy is pretty busy, so he doesn’t have much time, but he does love going to San Francisco Giants baseball games with his family, and he also loves going to Supercross motorcycle races.  Going to as many races as he can each year, he has also been a longtime supporter of a professional Supercross race team based in Madera, CA called H.E.P. Motorsports.

Although he doesn’t get to drive much anymore, Billy still talks about the long nights, throwing iron in the snow, and all those other things “old timers” talk about.  He joked that he is still a legend in his own mind.  But in all seriousness, he really wanted to thank all his drivers for keeping the trucks rolling and keeping them looking so good.  Thanks to his first driver Uriel, who is now a subhauler in his own truck for Billy, and to Richard “Big Rich” Ceja (the driver of the featured truck), Andrew, Danny, Aaron, and Alex.  Billy also wanted to express gratitude and thanks to 10-4 Magazine for the honor of being featured on the cover.  It is something he always dreamed of!  We would like to thank Aubrey Loftin at Simplot Grower Solutions in Kerman and George Holland Farms for allowing us to take our pictures on their premises.

The drive to be better – to do better – each and every day for his family’s future is Billy’s focus now.  He no longer lives and works for himself, but for his kids and grandkids.  “Treat everyone with respect, don’t take anything too seriously, and enjoy life, because it goes fast,” said Billy.  “Trucking is always changing, and these days, if you intend to stay in trucking, you just need to pivot when needed, roll with it, and embrace the changes,” he added.  Building a legacy for his family one liquid load at a time is what drives Billy Ezernack every day and keeps him moving forward, into the future, no matter what.  Because in the end, he just loves trucking too much to ever give it up.

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