Owner-Operator of the Year award goes to OOIDA member

March 9, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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OOIDA senior member Kevin Kocmich accepts the Owner-Operator of the Year award during the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual meeting on March 3.
OOIDA senior member Kevin Kocmich accepts the Owner-Operator of the Year award during the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual meeting on March 3. (Photo courtesy Truckload Carriers Association)

For OOIDA senior member Kevin Kocmich, the fourth time was the charm.

Kocmich, of 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.”

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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. He 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.”

Team effort

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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.

Other heros

OOIDA members Ed and Tracy Zimmerman were named TCA’s Highway Angels of the Year for stopping to help a man who was trapped in his vehicle. The team drivers from Nebraska helped remove the driver from his vehicle moments before it exploded.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.