Drumheller heroes: Drumheller man’s dream benefits the valley | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 19 Apr 2024 5pm

Drumheller heroes: Drumheller man’s dream benefits the valley


    There is a man, who many affectionately call “The Bear”, who has been a leader in promoting trade and commerce in the valley. This is of course John Kohut Sr.

    John started Hi-Way 9 Express in 1969. At that time, he was a thirty year-old father of four who was in fierce competition with thirteen other cartage and delivery companies in Drumheller. Being no stranger to hard work, driving, and making a living (after the death of his father, when John was only eleven), he reasoned that the key to success would lie in providing same-day service to and from Calgary.
     He began to put his dream into action with one small used truck, and some laundry from a local hotel. From there the business began to grow.
    However, business was not always rosy in the early days. The Bear had little in the way of financial backing, hours were long and along with this man’s dream came the perpetual problems of icy roads, mechanical problems, making ends meet and soon the growing pains that come with expansion. It was not the easiest path to provide a decent living for a young family.
    With the help of his wife, Irene, dedicated drivers, warehousing and administrative staff, he extended his routes, which meant going into an increasing number of new towns and providing a dependable level of service that these growing communities needed and soon came to expect.
    He needed to adapt his plan of action to accommodate a very, very broad range of freight hauling requirements - from dinky toys to drill pipe, and everything in between.
    His philosophy was to provide a valuable, economically feasible method of delivering freight to his customers promptly and professionally, and in this area of Alberta, nobody had done this yet. John realized that if you stayed committed to delivering freight courteously and expeditiously, people and businesses would continue to use your service, and your customer base would grow.
    In addition, he knew that all the while the importance of giving back to the communities he served and, above all, be attentive to the needs of his young family.
    The balance was always maintained, and he instilled his work ethic and business principles into his three sons, John, Darrell, Dean and his only daughter, Heather, who have all joined the managerial ranks of the ever-expanding company.
    Along with community service in the Drumheller Rotary Club, and continually donating his time and efforts to many functions, John continues to stay involved in the business, but not on a strict day-to-day basis.
    He was pivotal in making the plans, development and construction of the new terminal in Drumheller in 199 5, as well as the terminals in Red Deer, Calgary and then Edmonton. This has provided a “hub and spoke” delivery system, providing same-day service to a large number of communities in Alberta.
    The Bear has also been instrumental in finding and bringing upgraded trucks and trailers into the Hi-Way 9 group of companies. He can often be seen running equipment in the various warehouse yards, making sure that drainage, compaction and appearances are top-notch.
     John Kohut’s vision became a plan, that plan has been put into action, and these actions have borne a legacy...a legacy that Drumheller, and all of the surrounding area, have benefitted from, so often.
     We would all do well to remember, “If you eat it, drink it or use it, a truck probably brought it!”
    Thanks to this man’s dream, the trucks will continue to bring it, for a long time to come.

As a feature during the Centennial year of The Drumheller Mail we are asking for stories from our readers on Drumheller Heroes. These are people from the past or present who  have made a significant impact for the betterment of the community. We look forward to your submissions. e-mail news@drumhellermail.com for more information on how to prepare your Drumheller Hero story, or call 403-823-2580.

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