After 40 years of hauling nuts, feed and more, Ceres’ Starlite Trucking closes abruptly

Starlite Trucking in Ceres, Calif., Saturday, July 13, 2019.
Starlite Trucking in Ceres, Calif., Saturday, July 13, 2019.

After 40 years in business, Ceres-based Timmerman Starlite Trucking, Inc. has closed.

The trucking company specialized in transportation of livestock feed and other agricultural products. Company CEO Colby Bell said his staff of 30 employees were notified Friday and closure took effect immediately.

The company provided hauling services to hundreds of clients in 11 Western states, Bell said, though its primary business was in California. The company has a fleet of 30 trucks plus equipment and trailers. Bell said a skeleton crew will remain on while the company’s remaining assets are sold over the next 30 to 60 days.

Starlite was founded in 1979 in Ceres by the Timmerman family with one truck. It became known for its work with the area’s ag industry, particularly for moving almonds and walnuts. At its peak, Bell said, the company had 75 employees and 52 trucks. They also had hoppers, flatbed trailers and other equipment, plus offered refrigerated services to clients.

But Bell said increased costs for labor and equipment, coupled with flat-lined hauling rates, have cut into their profits too much to continue. He also said state and federal regulations have shrunk their margins and increased costs.

“We tried to provide a healthy work environment for our employees and give them the best wages and benefits we could,” Bell said in a statement about the closure, “but in the end, the rates that were available did not support the cost structure needed to compensate our employees appropriately.”

Shawn Yadon, CEO of the California Trucking Association, issued a statement about the closure and said the company had been a member of its organization for 28 years.

“I am saddened to learn of Starlite’s closure and this is further proof that California must take a very hard look at its business environment,” Yadon said.

Bell said the company is working to help all of its employees find work with other local trucking companies. The Timmerman family still live in the region in Modesto and Oakdale.

“We are sincerely grateful for the wonderful people who have worked with us and the vendors we’ve worked with over the years,” Bell said. “They’ve been very good to us.”

Related stories from Modesto Bee

Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs multiple times a week. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
Support my work with a digital subscription