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September 2016

Posted By John Hausladen, Thursday, September 1, 2016
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2017

If we are truly blessed in life, a few rare individuals cross our path who become our mentors and friends. Al Koenig, who passed away on August 16, was such a person to me.

If there ever was an elder statesmen of the Minnesota trucking industry, Al was it.

When I started this job 20 years ago, I didn’t know a soul in this industry. After meeting Al, I knew I had at least one person in my corner. His friendly smile, gentlemanly demeanor and words of encouragement set me at ease and along the path to success.

Of course, that was Al’s way. Engaging people. Inviting people. Including people. At ATA meetings he made sure I had a seat and was introduced to the right people; the “real stem winders” he called them. Since his passing, numerous members have recounted similar stories to me. The cool thing was, he did it not for his own benefit, but for the betterment of that person and the broader trucking industry.

He fell in love with trucks as a kid and a youthful joy about them never left him. He loved BIG trucks, which parlayed into building Midwest Specialized Transportation. He loved LITTLE trucks, which turned into perhaps the state’s largest private collection of die-cast trucks and trucking memorabilia. He loved trucking HISTORY and knew more about the companies, people and evolving regulations than anyone I ever met. Period.

Al was so proud to be a trucker. While safety always came first, the image of the trucks and drivers were a close second. He believed acting professional and looking professional were totally in our control. His iconic blue and white trucks were clean, shiny and well-maintained, with quality drivers to match.

I always knew I could call or visit Al if I had a question or needed some perspective. When I reached out, he listened, encouraged and gave his best advice. If you were off base or he disagreed, he would tell it to you straight.

He was a passionate advocate for the trucking industry. He believed we have no one to blame if we don’t stand up for ourselves. Al put his time and money where his mouth was. He gave regularly to the ATA and MTA Political Action Committees. He went to DC to tell the trucking story and frequently had legislators to his facility in Rochester. He was a huge believer in ‘The Power of the Truck Ride’ to turn on the light bulb with legislators. He just never stopped promoting the essentiality of this industry.

My last conversations with Al took place at our Annual Conference just a week before he died. He was there at age 78 still learning, contributing, leading and thoroughly enjoying himself. Most fitting, his last act of service to the MTA was to present the Scholarship Committee report, a program he helped create.

If I had to sum it up, Al was a giver, not a taker. He certainly gave his heart and soul to the Minnesota Trucking Association and because of those efforts, we can ALL say we have been blessed by Al Koenig.

Thank you for standing in my corner since day one, and in the process becoming a mentor and friend. We are going to miss you Al.

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