Joan Stollenwerk was a purchasing agent for a chemical company when she met trucker Ray Kasicki in 1983 at an autocross race. They were married four years later and when she could, Joan began taking occasional road trips with Ray.
Ray turned these trips into classroom time and taught Joan to drive a truck. In 1988, Ray and Joan went into business for themselves as owner-operators. Joan found that her degree in business management was a definite asset when it came to succeeding as a small business owner-operator.
"Of course, you must have exceptional safe driving skills in order to make it in this business," says Joan. "But if you're not organized, watching every penny, and planning for the future you can find yourself out of business in a hurry."
In 1993, Joan quit her day job to share the road full-time with Ray. "I love the freedom of the road, being your own boss," said Joan. "Like any other profession, there are drawbacks, but the plusses far outweigh the minuses."
Joan and Ray first became active in the search for solutions to the many problems plaguing truckers through involvement with the Northern Ohio Steel Haulers in 1990. They realized that a strong national organization was the best way to address the problems facing truckers and joined OOIDA in 1992. Both husband and wife immediately became very active members, writing letters and volunteering to attend meetings and rallies. As residents of Cleveland, Ohio, the Kasickis were often called upon to concentrate their efforts toward issues affecting truckers in that state.
Ray's election to the OOIDA Board of Directors in 1996 did not mean that Joan was going to sit back while Ray did all the work. Joan volunteered herself and her resources to address issues of concern to truckers in Ohio. "Joan is one of the most determined people I've ever known," Ray says. "It would never even occur to her to wait for someone else to tackle a problem. And she's just as comfortable talking to legislators as she is talking to truckers over a cup of coffee."
In November, 1996, Joan became the OOIDA lobbyist for Ohio, and has actively promoted truckers' interests in the continuing battle to abolish split speed limits.
"I've worn out several pairs of shoes traveling the halls of the state capitol," Joan tells Land Line. "The speed limit issue is on the back burner, for now, but we'll be turning up the heat again in January."
Joan is also fighting recently announced rest area closures on Ohio's secondary roads and lobbying to increase available rest area parking for truckers.
"Joan's experience in trucking and her aggressive, activist personality make her uniquely qualified to get in there and kick ass on behalf of professional truckers," says OOIDA president Jim Johnston.
In addition to her lobbying activities in Columbus, Joan was recently named to the advisory board of the Ohio Turnpike Commission where she is challenging unfair weight classifications, toll increases and split speed limits on behalf of truckers. She is also working with representatives of several Ohio communities to educate the public about the realities of trucking and the needs of truckers in order to head off unfair restrictions for trucks in those jurisdictions.
When she can find time, Joan enjoys boating, fishing and bicycling as well as helping Ray restore old Volkswagens. "I still go trucking when I can," says Joan. "But working on trucker issues has become a higher priority. We'll never make any progress if we're not in there fighting. We can't allow lawmakers to forget who we are at OOIDA and what we stand for. LL