Owner-Operator of the Year finalist Kevin Kocmich rises to the oversized challenge

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Updated Mar 14, 2018

Kevin Kocmich is one of three finalists for the 2017 Owner-Operator of the Year award, produced by the Truckload Carriers Association and Overdrive. The winner, who will receive a $25,000 cash prize, will be announced in late March at TCA’s annual convention in Orlando, Florida. The other two finalists are Bryan Smith and Phillip Keith.

Kevin KocmichKevin Kocmich

Litchfield, Minnesota-based Kevin Kocmich, 56, leased to Diamond Transportation System, has been hauling oversized/overweight equipment throughout his 28-year driving career. He enjoys the added challenge of being one of the bigger vehicles on the road.

“It comes with a little prestige, I suppose,” he says. “There’s pride in what other drivers are seeing when you’re hauling down the road, especially when it’s military equipment. When I deliver every load, no matter what it is, I know it’s an accomplishment.”

The obstacles are numerous – curfews, weather, other drivers and traffic – but all of that makes it even more rewarding to deliver a load safely, which he’s done for more than 3 million miles.

“Defensive driving is the number-one thing you can do to stay clean,” he says. “Look out for everybody else, because they aren’t looking out for you.”

In recent years, Kocmich has focused on reducing idle time on his 2015 Peterbilt 579.

Given the cost of an auxiliary power unit and the need to avoid extra weight in his heavy-haul niche, Kocmich and his wife, Joy, decided to pass on the unit and get a hotel room if necessary. His wife, Joy, often rides with him since he stays on the road two to three months at a time.

“I got the truck three years ago, and I have 5.5 percent idle time, which is pretty good without an APU,” he says.

Kocmich grew up on a South Dakota farm. After graduating high school in 1979, he got a harvest truck run between Oklahoma and the Canadian border before getting into regional trucking. For a short time, he hauled steel, then began moving into long-haul.

Kocmich participates in the Trucker Buddy program, partnered with a fourth-grade classroom.

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“It shows the younger kids what’s out here on the road,” he says. “They’re pretty amazed by trucks to begin with, but this allows them to see what we haul and where we go. Everyone learns a lot, even the teachers.” He sends the class weekly postcards and writes occasional letters.

Kocmich says he’s been able to remain profitable by managing his business well, making every mile count and keeping up on equipment maintenance.

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