Community Leadership in Minnesota
Rock On Trucks gives back to the community, one truck at a time
A six-alarm fire brought down Rock On Trucks’ original repair shop in 2017. The destruction of this aggregate trucking company’s repair shop, located in Waite Park, Minnesota, was caused by “human error,” says Lady Jayne Fontaine, the Public Relations and Marketing Representative for the company. Krystal Vierkant, the Owner of the company, and her husband, Kevin, found out about the blaze on social media. The Vierkants, along with a cadre of employees who were celebrating their 10th anniversary with the company, had just left on a Caribbean vacation. It was very difficult for the employees left behind to break the news that the shop—part of their business that they had spent 15 years growing—was now a total loss due to the fire.
Krystal and Kevin returned on the earliest flight to be there for their employees. Many companies wouldn’t be able to survive when a disaster of this magnitude happens. “But Krystal and Kevin aren’t most people,” Lady Jayne says. “Krystal is not like other business owners. She’s an optimistic business leader.
“It was a bad time,” Lady Jayne continues. “Our world turned upside down; but the community rallied around us.” Their new repair facility opened in January 2020.
The Beginning of Rock On Trucks
Rock On Trucks is part of the Rock On Companies family of businesses, which also includes Rock On Enterprises, Inc.; Rock On Repair; Minnesota Tarp and Liner; and Rock On Properties LLC. The story began when Kevin and Krystal met at a trucking company, where Kevin ran the repair shop and Krystal was a member of the finance department. “It was not love at first sight,” Lady Jayne says. “They did not get along at first.”
But after developing a respectful working relationship, Krystal and Kevin purchased their first truck and trailer. So, in 2001, at 25 years old, Krystal with an accounting and banking background, and Kevin with driving and maintenance experience started Rock On. “I started my company two weeks before 9/11 with no work scheduled,” Krystal says. “Kevin made some phone calls and got us some work, and we were trucking.”
But the challenges didn’t end there.
Lady Jayne says that Krystal truly challenged the traditionally held male industry. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry made work difficult. “People didn’t take me seriously and tried to go to my driver to get information,” Krystal says. “Men would come into my office and ask to talk to the owner. When I told them they were, they would say they wanted to speak to the man in charge. Customers told me that the only reason I was working was to help the company fulfill their DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) goals. Some even said that I wouldn’t be around in five years. It was rough.”
And yet, the company persisted and Krystal stayed optimistic about the future. Even the company’s name was born out of an optimistic worldview. “When people would ask Kevin what he was hauling, he would say ‘I got Rock On,’ “ says Lady Jayne. “So, the company name was born—Rock On.
“Krystal never intended to be more than a one-truck operation,” Lady Jayne says. “But by the end of the first year, Kevin had convinced seven other owner-operators to join the business. Kevin is a genius when it comes to bringing other guys in,” she says. “He would find the work and the people to do it.”
Meanwhile, Krystal and Kevin planned for a future together. They were married in 2007 and have five children between the two of them.
Operation Respect USA
In 2016, Krystal and Kevin decided to start Operation Respect USA. “Kevin’s brother was a Vietnam veteran who died of cancer that was caused by Agent Orange,” says Lady Jayne. “Our veterans are near and dear to us, and we wanted to honor our current servicemen and women by bringing attention to those who serve us. We decided the best way to do that was to dedicate our trucks to them.”
Currently, they have several tribute trucks, including the Veterans Memorial Tribute Float Truck with a trailer with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on it; the Firefighters Tribute Truck and trailer with all the names of fallen Minnesotan firefighters on the trailer; and the Law Enforcement Tribute Truck and trailer featuring the names of fallen officers from throughout the state of Minnesota. In addition, they also have trucks dedicated to cancer, autism and diabetes awareness.
“We use those trucks in parades and other events to draw attention to those who are keeping our communities safe,” Lady Jayne says. “Bringing attention to the people who are serving us is the right thing to do.”
The Rock On Trucks team is also dedicated to other charitable causes. “My company and I value the freedoms that have been given through the sacrifice our servicemen, women and their families,” Krystal says. “My husband and I were active in helping the WWII vets get to Washington to see the World War II Memorial.” They did this in coordination with the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit whose mission is to transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials that honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends. She also notes, “We believe in giving back to the community. Some of the ways we do that are by volunteering with multiple nonprofit organizations, helping lead benefits for those in need and by doing a food and toy drive at our company Christmas party each year to donate back to the community.”
Today, Rock On Trucks has over 55 trucks, 75 trailers and a team of 65 employees and independent contractors. “Our services range from aluminum end dumps capable of delivering payloads up to 26 tons, side dumps capable of hauling rubble (also known as rip rap) or any other abrasive commodities,” Lady Jayne says. “We also have belly dumps and dump trucks for hot mix or roadway aggregates. Our flatbeds, dry vans, reefers and step deck trailers are also available for local or over-the-road movements. Our fleet of trucks is made up of dedicated owner-operators and company drivers with many years of experience in the field.”
The owners embrace traditional values that they hold dear. Krystal says, “I believe in honesty, integrity, service, loyalty and strong work ethics. I require the same of the people I bring on at Rock On Companies. I am a hands-on leader and I have an open-door policy. I have developed programs to help my independent owner-operators be successful, such as a fuel program, budget planning and business and maintenance management. I give my all to be the best in this business, and I expect everyone working with Rock On Companies to understand that the way they do business is a reflection of how I do business.”
Krystal continues, “My business was built on hard work, sacrifice and long sleepless nights. The same values that built this great country over 200 years ago are still working today. We must take a look at what the problems are that face this current generation and get back to the basics of doing what it takes to make American business work. The Rock On family of companies is looking to the future with the same values as the past. We say what we do and do what we say while giving the best service at the fairest prices possible. Hard work pays off.”