Kevin Young has always had a deep passion for trucks, but it took him a while to turn that passion into his profession. Over the years he has washed them, photographed them, collected them, and now, finally living his dream, he actually drives them. Growing up on Long Island (New York), Kevin still has a little bit of his east coast accent, even though he moved away from there years ago. Living in Minnesota now, people are always asking him, “You’re not from around here, are you?”
Kevin’s love for trucks and the trucking business started one day when he was about 23 years old. That day, he went out to help his Uncle Paul Blanda, who owned a mobile truck wash service in Long Island – and that day changed everything. There was no way Kevin could have ever known that the day his uncle called him, to go work with him washing trucks, how much it would change his life. He began by washing a muddy bulldozer (not so fun), but when it came time to wash the trucks, the love started – and now goes on. Kevin learned a lot from his uncle and eventually started his own mobile truck washing company out on Long Island. From there, the love grew even stronger!
Having taken some photography classes in high school, Kevin put what he had learned to good use, and started taking pictures of the trucks he washed, which he would then use as references to get more business. When people could see the kind of work that he did, it was a great selling point. The picture-taking passion grew into taking pictures of more than just the trucks that he was washing – he started taking pictures of all the nice rides he happened to see. Eventually, this passion would take him to truck shows. I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin at the Waupun Truckers Jamboree one year. Let me just say, that was a lot of years ago, but I can still remember how enthusiastic he was about all of the trucks – he even knew all of the drivers’ names, as well as a lot of details about their trucks.
Using his vacation time to go to truck shows, Kevin would take pictures, meet drivers, and just enjoy all the hard work that had gone into making the trucks he loved so beautiful. Making the long drive to Louisville, KY for the annual show held there in March was worth the day or two he could spend there, but the weather wasn’t always the best. Anyone who has gone to the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in March knows that it’s always a crap shoot as to what kind of weather you are going to get – winter or spring – you just never know.
In 1997, Kevin sold his mobile washing business to his cousin and moved to Las Vegas, NV to work as a manager at the Blue Beacon Truck Wash there. You could hear the pride in Kevin’s voice when he told me about how he took that location from being rated 38th out of 42 stores to being #2 in just a short 6-month period. If it hadn’t been for developing asthma because of the chemicals that they were using, he was sure that his store would have been #1 very shortly. Drivers that stopped there regularly would make sure to pull into the bay that Kevin was working in. I know how that goes – I used to do the same thing at the Blue Beacon wash in Fernley, NV where I had a favorite guy that washed our truck. It might be the same place, but that does not always mean you will get the same level of service – it really makes a difference when the lead guy cares – and, obviously, that guy in Las Vegas was Kevin.
One day, while in a hobby store, a new passion (collection) was born. Kevin’s first 1/64th scale die-cast truck was a 379 Peterbilt Pepsi truck. Today, Kevin’s die-cast truck collection features over 700 beautifully-displayed models in his basement. I was so impressed when I saw the pictures. Housed in many neat, organized, wood cabinets with glass shelves and doors, it is apparent that a lot of thought and time (and love) went into the way his trucks are presented and stored. When I think of that many models sitting on shelves, I just think of them as places for dust to collect, but Kevin sees them entirely different, as a hobby, which is really cool. I think his enormous collection is stunning, and one day, many of those little rigs might well become collector’s items!
Kevin moved from Las Vegas, NV to Minnesota in 2005, and began managing a local casino nearby. But, in January of 2008, Kevin’s life really changed – his dream of getting his CDL was finally realized! He can still fondly remember that cold day, driving in the middle of a snow storm, to get his license. Apparently, it was an omen of things to come that winter. Listening to him tell the story about getting his CDL made me think of the day that I got my Chauffeurs License (that’s what they were called before they were CDL’s). It was in April, in Iowa, and I had the nicest man giving me the test. To be quite honest, it took me all three times I was allowed to back up correctly. I thought I was going to have to go back for a second try, but when I finished, I got my license. It’s funny the days that you remember in this business. Driving primarily in the upper Northwest, Kevin got his feet wet real fast! What a way to learn to drive – in Minnesota during the winter!!
Today, Kevin works for US Foods driving local so that he can be home with his son, Alex, and daughter, Angelina. For a while, he was doing overnight runs, but Alex didn’t like that so he changed his schedule so he could be home every day. No matter what truck Kevin is assigned, he takes care of it like it’s his own. It doesn’t matter that it’s a company truck – he is proud of it and it shows. I have always had a lot of respect for the company drivers that take good care of their trucks, even though they aren’t technically “theirs” and they don’t own them. I can remember back in the day when I drove company trucks – I always took care of it as if it were my own. People at a company notice when you take good care of their equipment.
Kevin’s son Alex gets very excited when he gets to go to the yard where his daddy works. He likes looking through all the truck pictures that his dad has taken, too. It’s here where I can picture this little boy sitting on his dad’s lap, flipping through picture albums, and seeing his face light up when he sees his favorites, not to mention his little girl, squealing with delight when daddy gets home from work. It’s really tough to be a trucker and a dad or a mom. I wish more people would appreciate what drivers sacrifice to do the jobs that we do to make sure that people are able to buy the things they need and want on a daily basis. It’s really hard to be on the road with little ones at home. I know that I am preaching to the choir, but “thank you” to all of the men and women out on the road making a living with little ones back at home. I have written about it before, but I’ll say it again – this is the hardest part of trucking.
What started out as just a simple day, washing trucks with his uncle, spurned not only into a passion, but, eventually, a profession. And if you can honestly say that you love what you do, they say that you’ll never “work” a day in your life. If that is true, Kevin Young must be on a permanent vacation, because he loves what he does. Whether it be photographing trucks, collecting toy trucks, or driving the real thing, Kevin is living his dream every day, and his passion for his profession shows.