For over 40 years, the Koenig family has been pivotal in preserving and sharing Kenworth’s rich history across North America. The late Allen ‘Al’ Koenig and his son Chris are best known for their involvement in transporting Kenworth’s history trailer exhibit for the 75th anniversary in 1998 and partnering with Kenworth to refurbish the same trailer for this year’s 100th anniversary tour. But, the Koenig family connection to Kenworth and loyalty to the brand runs much deeper than its involvement with the anniversary tours.
In fact, Al’s passion for trucks can be traced back to the 1940s, when he was a young boy growing up in Minnesota near Highway 52, a major trucking lane in the state. As he watched trucks pass his home, he became deeply interested. So much so that he was known to walk out by the road to signal and wave to drivers as they went by.
“It got to the point where drivers would recognize him and throw candy wrapped in trucking magazines as they passed,” said Chris Koenig. “Some would even stop and take him for a short ride in the area. My dad also collected toy trucks and wrote letters to truck manufacturers – including Kenworth – and even received letters from Kenworth’s marketing manager at the time. That was something he never forgot.”
As Al got older and his knowledge of the trucking industry grew, he formed an opinion that trucks produced by Kenworth were the best of the best. In 1967, Al founded Midwest Specialized Transportation in Rochester, Minnesota, with two Kenworth K100s that were used to haul various heavy equipment. That company eventually grew into a 135+ truck operation, primarily Kenworths. The Koenigs sold the company in 2007.
“My dad loved Kenworth trucks, believed in the brand, and the image that came with operating high quality, premium trucks. It’s why he built his company with Kenworths,” said Koenig.
Over the years, Al continued to develop relationships with Kenworth employees and often visited Kenworth’s Chillicothe, Ohio and Renton, Washington manufacturing plants to see how the World’s Best trucks were built. When Kenworth approached Al in 1997 about helping with the creation and transportation of a Kenworth history trailer exhibit for a 75th anniversary tour, it was an opportunity he couldn’t refuse.
“Being the truck fanatic and history buff that my dad was, he was elated to help provide input on the exhibit and to provide company drivers to haul the trailer,” said Koenig. “Kenworth supplied us with a 1998 Kenworth 75th Anniversary Limited Edition W900L to haul it, which put on more than 43,000 miles over the course of the tour.”
When the tour ended, the Koenigs purchased the truck and trailer to add to its collection of Kenworth history memorabilia, which includes a Kenworth 1928 gas-powered Kenworth Model VS107. Throughout the years, the Koenigs would take its Limited Edition W900L and Kenworth history trailer to truck shows and other industry events to educate the trucking community about Kenworth’s history.
“My dad once served as president of the American Truck Historical Society, and it was important to him to preserve the history of the American trucking industry,” said Koenig. “He loved going on the road to industry events to show the Kenworth truck and trailer and to educate people about the industry and of his favorite truck OEM, Kenworth.”
While Al passed away in 2016 at the age of 78, his legacy and contributions to Kenworth and the trucking community lives on. Chris continues to attend industry events to show his family’s historical Kenworths. Earlier this year, he attended the Kenworth Truck Parade in Chillicothe, which featured the Kenworth Limited Edition W900L.
“My dad passed down his love for trucks to me, and it’s a shared interest we enjoyed together. Our family’s collection of Kenworth memorabilia serves as a constant memory of him,” said Koenig. “I know that he would’ve been thrilled to know that his trailer was on the road again to celebrate Kenworth’s 100 years.”