Kreilkamp Trucking: Growing Strong for 75 Years

A fourth-generation family business, Kreilkamp Trucking of Allenton, Wis., has seen, endured, and accomplished much in its 75 years. The company, which started out transporting livestock, grew gradually through the years as a dry van hauler exclusively until 1981. That's the year a computer company customer of Kreilkamp started shipping to Denver. Kreilkamp decided to add a refrigeration unit to the trailer to pick up some return loads, officially entering the refrigerated freight business. As irony would have it, Kreilkamp's customer lost their west-bound account just six weeks later. But Kreilkamp never looked back... only forward as they found new customers to utilize the reefer. Today, the company owns 350 tractors - all with Thermo King TriPac™ APUs, and more than 1,000 trailers - 315 of which are refrigerated.

"We are proud of our company, business practices, and reputation," said Mike Kreilkamp, vice president of maintenance and purchasing. "My great grandfather, John H. Kreilkamp, started this company in 1935 with determination and hard work. I'm sure he never dreamed it would be around 75 years later with more than 500 employees, successfully growing through so many generations, which included my grandfather, Walter; my father John R. (who , along with his wife Jeanne, remain as chairmen of the board), and now my brother Tim (president), sister Amanda Kreilkamp-Kirk (vice president driver services), and me. We also rely on CFO Jamie Danner."

Of course, 75 years of success is no accident and involves much more than irony. The company remains focused on running routes east of the Mississippi (both dry van and refrigerated), retaining a solid driver base, maintaining quality equipment, and staying profitable. And they've done all of that despite industry highs and lows through the years.

"A solid, dependable driver base is a key to our success; our drivers are instrumental to on-time delivery and safety on the road," said Kreilkamp, "and we have long understood that. We hire quality drivers, pay them well, are sensitive to family time, and provide well-maintained equipment with the technology and comforts that make life on the road easier."

Kreilkamp Trucking has approximately 350 drivers - 277 of which are over-the-road and regional company drivers, 7 are contracted owner operators and the balance are local/day cab drivers.

Equipment is maintained by Kreilkamp's 20 in-house mechanics. All tractors and trailers returning to base automatically undergo a four-minute drive-through inspection in the company's 80-foot pit. Trailers parked in the yard are checked every four hours to ensure integrity, and every time a reefer is washed a pre-cycle is run to reduce the chances for on-the-road problems. "We believe in proactive maintenance, so that we don't have to be reactive on the road," explained Kreilkamp.

When it comes to the actual equipment chosen, Kreilkamp Trucking believes its long-term vendor relationships with companies like Thermo King, Peterbilt and Freightliner are a key factor to dependability. The company's fleet is nearly exclusive with all three brands. "By partnering together, a better understanding of business practices and needs is gained and a trust is formed. We have 30-year partnerships with our vendors and it's difficult to put a value on that," said Kreilkamp. While the company does its own on-site reefer maintenance, it utilizes Badger Trailer & Equipment, the local Thermo King dealership, for new reefer purchases and weekly parts needs.

"We send a mobile parts vehicle out to Kreilkamp Trucking twice a week to take care of them," said Wayne Perrins, general manager of Badger Trailer & Equipment. "We also signed them up for Thermo King's SVC centralized billing program so if they do need help out on the road, they can go to any Thermo King dealership to receive one guaranteed rate and invoice."

In commemorating its 75th year, Kreilkamp Trucking called on its vendors to help them create a special anniversary trailer with a Thermo King SB-210 reefer. Both are painted Kreilkamp's signature Viper Red and include some flashy features such as extra chrome, lights and a mural depicting Kreilkamp through the years. "In celebrating such a big year, we thought a show trailer would be a great way to display our pride," said Kreilkamp. "While the trailer shows images from our past, it represents the future for us as well. We're excited to see where it leads us."

For more information about Kreilkamp Trucking, visit

Thermo King Corporation, a business unit of diversified industrial firm Ingersoll Rand Company Limited, was founded in 1938 and manufactures transport temperature control systems for a variety of mobile applications, including trailers, truck bodies, buses, shipboard containers and railway cars. The company operates 10 manufacturing facilities and 17 parts distribution centers worldwide. Sales and service is provided by a global dealer network of 865 independently owned companies in 75 countries.

Mike O'Brien, Thermo King Corporation
Mike O'Brien

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