Some people are all too familiar with the colored ribbons that signify some sort of disease, mental illness, remembrance, and the “C” word we all hate… cancer. Many families have had their lives turned upside-down because of some type of cancer. Life-altering choices need to be considered and preparations involving terminal patients need to be made. There are the fighters, the survivors, the prayer warriors and those that we remember who have been taken too soon.
This is the story of one young man with a zest for life and a passion for the trucking industry, who entered this business as a necessity, and who still lives with cancer today. The different-colored ribbons bring awareness to the disease or illness, but this man brings awareness personally, while out on the road.
January 4, 2011, Erich Olschewski was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his knee. Osteosarcoma (also called as osteogenic sarcoma) is the most common type of cancer that starts in the bones. The cancer cells in these tumors look like early forms of bone cells that normally help make new bone tissue, but the bone tissue is an Osteosarcoma, which is not as strong as that of normal bones. This type of cancer commonly effects children and young adults, where the bone is still growing quickly.
I met Erich back in August at the Great Salt Lake Truck Show in Lehi, Utah. He was jovial, smiling and willing to engage in conversation with anyone. The only sign you can physically see that Erich is living with any type of problem was the brace on his knee. Erich drives the beautiful custom-painted 2008 Kenworth W900L seen here.
The truck is owned and operated by Custom Construction and Design out of Herriman, Utah. The company was founded by Erich’s father in 1988 and focused on general contracting. Today, the outfit is run by Erich and his father. Among other eye-catching things, the head-turning truck bares the company’s unique teal and white color scheme.
When Erich was first diagnosed, he was employed as a laborer for a local asphalt company. At that time, Erich went through the necessary tests and such, and the result was a diagnosis that said his leg would eventually need to be amputated. He knew he couldn’t continue doing manual labor with a prosthetic leg, so he looked into what his next career path could be. He always liked seeing the good-looking trucks rolling up and down the interstate, as well as through town, but he never thought he would end up driving. However, after getting his diagnosis, he realized even with a prosthetic leg he could still earn a good living driving truck.
After his initial treatment, without the amputation, he obtained his CDL in 2011 and started driving a Ford L900 quad-axle dump truck for a local outfit to get his initial driving experience. In 2012, Erich attended his first truck show, the Great Salt Lake Truck Show in Utah, and then in 2013 Erich went to work at his dad’s company. Working together, they started the Custom Construction and Design trucking division.
Under the new trucking division, Erich started out driving a 1989 Peterbilt 379, which would be his daily runner until the purchase of the W900L featured here on these pages. After seeing all the good-looking trucks in the area and the pride these owners/drivers displayed in their rides, Erich knew one day he would buy a truck of his own, do some custom work to it, and make it something that could run with the other good-looking trucks out there.
October 28, 2017 Erich married his wife Baylee and together they now have a 9-month-old son named Malakia. In March 2018, Erich bought what would become that truck he always dreamed about and his daily runner – the 2008 Kenworth W900L. This truck, once the custom work was done to it, went on the road pulling a matching 4-axle 2016 Trail King side dump trailer and was unveiled at the 2018 Great Salt Lake Truck Show, which caught my eye and earned him the 10-4 Magazine Sponsor’s Choice award.
The truck boasts a 600-hp C-15 CAT under the hood with a single turbo conversion kit, an 18-speed Eaton Fuller transmission, 3:36 gear ratio, a 295” wheelbase and 40,000-pound rear ends. The truck also sports 8” exhaust, striking paint by Rob Schmidt Body and Paint, and lots of “Dual Revolution” LED lights from Trux that switch from amber to green and red to green. Even though the teal ribbon on the side of his truck hood doesn’t represent Osteosarcoma, specifically, it still represents all those affected by cancer, including himself.
Along with the photos of the truck, we also took the time to add in a few photos that included Erich and his dad’s pickup trucks – a painted-to-match Chevrolet dually and a painted-to-match Dodge dually. These two pickup trucks were also at the Great Salt Lake Truck Show, parked next to Erich’s matching W900L, and were hard to miss. All these matching vehicles, with their distinct colors, made for a nice scene, both at the truck show and the photo shoot.
Today, 27-year-old Erich has yet to have his leg amputated and continues to work hard. The Custom Construction and Design trucking division currently runs a total of 9 trucks, and they can be found normally hauling construction and road materials in and around Salt Lake City and its suburbs. Special thanks to Erich, his friends and coworkers for their time and hospitality before, during and after this shoot. We utilized a few areas in Lehi, Utah, with the help of Erich and his friends, to get the images we needed – and, thankfully, for once, the weather remained perfect. My only regret is that I didn’t have more time, because that area in Utah (like most of the state) has breathtaking scenery.
Whether someone brings awareness on the road, within their social circle or across social media, keep those dealing with these diseases and illnesses in your thoughts and send them well-wishes, as those of us not affected do not know the struggle and hardship of someone who is. It is said that people who work hard and chase their goals, even with setbacks, are an inspiration to those who have the honor of meeting them and, in this case, I would certainly have to agree. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.