OOIDA senior member named Owner-Operator of the Year
Sometimes, the fourth time is the charm.
Kevin Kocmich, an OOIDA senior member from Litchfield, Minn., was named the Owner-Operator of the Year during the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual meeting on March 3 in Kissimmee, Fla. It was Kevin’s fourth straight year being nominated for the award and his first time winning.
The honor included a $25,000 cash reward.
“It was an experience and a half,” Kocmich told Land Line. “I don’t think anything will top it.”
Kocmich started his trucking career in 1979 and has been an owner-operator since 2000. During his time as a truck driver, he has accumulated more than 3.7 million safe and violation-free miles. He also participates in the Trucker Buddy program.
Leased on to Wisconsin-based Diamond Transportation System since 2014, Kocmich averages about 115,000 miles per year while hauling mostly oversized and overweight freight.
Jon Coca, president of Diamond Transportation, said Kocmich takes pride in being a mentor to new and potential owner-operators for the company.
“Kevin is always safe and courteous on the road,” Coca said in a news release. “He takes the extra time to secure his loads properly, recheck the points of contact and properly measures and scales his loads. Not only is he both safe and provides the best service, he’s a great representative. We truly wish we could have 100 owner-operators just like Kevin.”
Kocmich said he hauls a variety of freight throughout the continental United States.
“I never know what I’m going to be hauling next,” he said. “And we go to all 48 states. When I hauled grain, we would go back and forth 150 miles. That got old fast for me. Doing this, you get to see the different season changes all around the country. Every load is a challenge. You have to know how to get it loaded and secured properly.”
Kocmich’s operation is a team effort. Kevin’s wife, Joy, has accompanied him on hauls since 2005. The couple spend about two to three months on the road before taking a week or two off at home.
“I do all the driving, but she makes the phone calls and gets the permits and works with the load boards,” he said. “She takes half of the work away from me.”
Even though the Kocmichs just received $25,000, Kevin said they don’t plan on spending it right away.
“It was a tough year last year, and freight is down right now,” he said. “So we don’t want to jump in and overspend. It’s going to sit there in a little reserve for a while. Once we have a good year, we’d like to do some remodeling to the house and take a trip to Alaska.”
The two other finalists for Owner-Operator of the Year were Jesse Dennis, of Springfield, Mo., and Robert and Tracy Roth, of Coldwater, Ontario. The other finalists received $2,500 each.
“These individuals are all intelligent small-business owners, and they also help to keep our roads safe and environment clean,” Amy Boerger, Cummins vice president, said of the finalists. “Our communities are all better due to their time and engagement.” LL