The Second Million Was For His Brother
The Second Million Was For His Brother
Transport America driver Rick Kost Reaches 2 Million Miles Safely Driven; Dedicates Milestone to His Brother Ken
When Rick Kost reached his first million miles back in 2002, after driving with Transport America for almost 10 years, he did it for himself.
But he knew, starting with mile 1,000,001 that the next million miles was going to be for someone else. Someone who’s been with him every mile, day and night, from one coast to the other, and everywhere in between, and mostly in spirit. His brother, Ken.
Just before Thanksgiving, Rick Kost was invited to Transport America’s headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota, to be honored for reaching 2 million miles safely driven. And that’s when he dedicated those last 2 million miles to Ken Kost, his driving partner and older brother.
“It’s an awesome feeling to make it to two million miles, and with such as great company,” says Kost. “Transport America has always had my back. But to reach this goal and to dedicate it to my brother, makes it all the more sweeter.”
Beginning His Journey
The path to two million miles almost didn’t happen for Rick.
That’s because for six years, Rick left the world of trucking, unsure of whether he would ever step foot in a truck again.
Back in 1982, Rick was about 21-years-old when he started team driving with his brother Ken. The brothers drove as a team for a company that transported frozen food products. They primarily drove a route going back and forth from Cincinnati and Dayton, OH and Dallas, TX.
It was on one of those trips that Ken, who was slightly older than Rick and a passenger at the time, passed away in their truck.
“Ken was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was in high school,” says Rick. “He controlled it with daily shots of insulin. He died of a seizure.”
“I just couldn’t do it anymore. I just couldn’t get back into an 18-wheeler,” adds Rick. “Every time I did, I would just immediately think about losing my brother.”
Rick’s journey into truck driving began when he was a senior at Bald Eagle-Nittany High School in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania. The father of one of his friends owned a truck company. Rick earned $5 for every truck he washed. He started learning how to drive by driving a Bobcat. And then, he learned how to move a truck around on the yard, where he washed them.
“There was no requirement for truck driving school back then,” Rick says, “I learned on the job.”
After his brother’s death, Rick went to work for a while in the woolen mill at Woolrich, PA., where Rick was raised and continues to call home.
Because of the pay, Rick moved to another company, hauling incinerated ash in 36-foot coal buckets from Niagra Falls, New York, to Long Island, N.Y.
“I had a good friend who also drove the coal trucks,” says Rick. “He made the switch to Transport America. Eventually, he convinced me to give it a try. To get back behind an 18-wheeler after six years wasn’t easy.”
For his first solo load with Transport America, Rick found himself doing six stops in downtown Chicago.
“I figured it out,” he says, “but you see, my brother Ken used to do all of the navigating and all of the paperwork. When we drove together, he would point me in the right direction and I would just drive.”
Little by little, Rick found his way back to feeling confident in driving solo over the road.
What It Takes
So what does it take to drive two million miles safely?
To Rick, the key is complete dedication to the job.
“Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Build time into your schedule so that you have plenty of time to arrive on time,” says Rick. “And always check the weather. If the forecast calls for bad weather, leave a day or even two days early so you can get in and out before it hits.”
A focus on driving safely is one of the reasons that Rick values Transport America.
“They don’t force you to drive like some companies do,” he says. “If you feel it’s unsafe, you park it. It’s that simple. That’s one of the ways that Transport America is changing trucking.”
Another important tip offered by Rick is maintaining a positive attitude.
“I strongly believe that if you get behind the wheel and you have a negative attitude, it’s going to put you at risk,” Rick says. “That’s why I tend to avoid truck stops where you’re bound to hear small groups of drivers publicly complain about the profession, or about their home life.”
To Rick, it all boils down to learning.
“The thing I like about this business the most is that there is always something new to learn,” he says.
But Most of All, It Takes a Team
Rick is clear. He didn’t accomplish this all by himself.
Besides his brother Ken, Rick is quick to point out that his wife, Jean, to whom he’s been married for 18 years (together for 20 years), has been instrumental to his success.
“Jean’s been by my side the entire time,” says Rick. “She’s a very special woman. She gets it. She’s been a real trooper.”
And right behind his wife Jean, Rick counts on the support of his kids, Ricky and Krista, his two grandchildren, P.J. and Julian, and his three sisters.
Rick also points to the support that he’s received from Transport America. He couldn’t have done it without Steve Kohl, Mechanicsburg Support Center Manager, Angie Sholly, Fleet Leader, and Joebob Wilson, Field Safety Specialist.
“Everyone I’ve worked with at Transport America has been just great,” Rick says. “They’ve taken really good care of me.”
Rick is looking forward to a few more years of driving and then eventually retiring with Transport America.