This month’s cool creation was built for the Koss Construction Company of Topeka, Kansas. But this story is more about the company than their trucks. Having recently celebrated their 100th anniversary, this outfit has been building bridges, airports, roads and all sorts of stuff for a century. Not many companies can say that!
Koss Construction was founded by George W. Koss in 1912 and incorporated in 1914. The Corporate headquarters was located in Des Moines, Iowa until 1998. At that time, the home office was relocated to the current location in Topeka, Kansas to put management closer to the construction projects and the maintenance shop in Pauline, Kansas. The company started from rather meager beginnings, building bridges, culverts, dams, sewers, retaining and flood walls, railroads, substations, power plants, ice houses, trolley lines, stables, office buildings, and even a house or two. Today, Koss Construction is a leading general contractor specializing in highway and airfield construction.
In the beginning, the company was quite heavy into the structure field. During the first three decades, large structures were Koss’ main area of expertise, with major river crossings constructed in eleven Midwestern states. The largest of these was the Fort Snelling-Mendota Bridge south of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota that was built between 1924 and 1926. This bridge had 13 reinforced concrete open spandrel ribbed arches that were each 304 feet long. The total length of the bridge was over 4,100 feet and it was 200 feet high, with a 120-foot distance down to the river.
Koss started in the concrete paving field in 1921 paving on US Highway 30 in Clinton County, Iowa that year. In the 1940’s, the company geared up to deliver concrete pavement as the new market of airfield construction emerged. During this decade, the company paved twenty one airports in the states of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska and New Mexico. Since then, Koss has built, reconstructed or extended an additional twenty two airports.
Since the beginning of paving operations, Koss has paved more than 72,000,000 square yards of concrete pavement. This would be equal to a 24-foot wide road that went from San Francisco, CA to New York City, then down to El Paso, Texas! Later on, the company added even more paving products to its capacity, including hot-mixed asphalt in the 1930’s, cold-in-place recycled asphalt in the 1980’s, and roller-compacted concrete in the last decade.
While the company’s fleet of equipment is impressive, it is often the smallest of things that leaves the largest impression. On the shirt sleeves of many of the company employees who refer to themselves as “Hard Roaders” are small red stars. It is with great pride that these men and women wear these stars on their sleeves, each representing five years of tenure with the company. Such pride and dedication reflects a group of workers who are confident in their company, and it reflects the commitment that Koss has to its Hard Roaders to provide them with the equipment and training needed to foster a safe and good work environment.
Trucks, of course, are part of the Koss Construction fleet, and two of them have been ordered at Kansas City Peterbilt. The latest one, seen here, is a 2013 Peterbilt 388 extended hood daycab ordered with a Cummins ISX 600 with extra torque (2,050), an 18-speed trans, a 20K-lb. steer axle, 46K-lb. AirTrac rears with a 2-speed rear axle, dual breathers and pipes, and a 20K-lb. steerable lift axle. When the white truck showed up, Clint’s team took it to Dale at Vidas Mechanical and had a hydraulic wet kit for a lowboy installed, and then Rob in the paint shop applied the red Koss stripe, along with the flat black hood top to help with glare. They also installed a headache rack, an Air-Weigh scale system on the truck and new matching trailer, stainless steel “bicycle-style” fenders over the drives and lift axle, and a stainless cover on the urea tank. After that, the truck went to work.
A few months later, with only 11,000 miles on the odometer, the truck was vandalized and stripped while it sat in a hotel parking lot during a snowstorm in Wakeeney, Kansas. While the driver slept inside his room, the thieves made off with the truck’s doors, mirrors, headlights, and a bunch of the interior pieces. After trailering it back to the dealership, everything was put back together and the truck went back to work.
Koss Construction has a strong reputation of being a leader in their industry, and they are very proud of that reputation. We urge you to visit their website (www.kossconstruction.com) and to watch the video they produced for their 100th anniversary celebration. Looking back, decade by decade, it is a neat presentation of photos which clearly depicts what this company is all about. We are proud to feature these “Hard Roaders” in 10-4 Magazine, and would like to wish them another 100 years of success!