I have always said that trucking is a service-based industry. Service is all we have to set us apart from the rest, and Brenny Transportation is a company that embraces this ideal. I heard Joyce Brenny speak at the Women In Trucking’s “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel” conference in 2012, after she was chosen WIT’s “Most Influential Woman in Trucking” that year. I remember how positive she was, and I really felt that she deserved that award, having made so many contributions to our industry. With that in mind, I decided it was time to do a feature on her – and her awesome company, Brenny Transportation.
After the WIT conference, Joyce and I became friends on Facebook. Later, after seeing a post about how Brenny Transportation had won a business ethics award, I wanted to find out more about her company and their operation. Talking with Joyce, we are on the same page about many trucking issues, and I applaud her for the way they do business and the success they have had by simply treating people the way they would want to be treated! I think this quote sums up a lot – “Treat someone like a winning thoroughbred and they will act like a winning thoroughbred. Treat them like a jackass, and they will act like a jackass!” And I couldn’t agree more. Brenny has built their business on the principle of treating everyone – drivers included – like a thoroughbred.
Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Brenny Specialized Inc. has 60 trucks, 15 owner operators, and 120 trailers. 75% of these trailers are specialized step-decks, double-drops, RGNs and flatbeds, with the remaining 25% being vans. Brenny Logistics is the brokerage side of the operation and Brenny Global Logistics is the warehouse division. Their motto – “Spoiling customers with Grand Champion Customer Service since 1996” – is more than just a slogan – it is the way they run their business – and it shows, in both their long list of satisfied customers and their loyal, happy drivers. Everyone at Brenny is playing on the same team, and the proof is the list of drivers that have been there for so many years (even the ones who have passed away are still remembered). I was also impressed by the team members who are recognized for their military service – it speaks volumes about the company.
Chatting with Joyce was such a pleasure, as we started our driving careers just a couple years apart. We share many of the same experiences from that time, and we both have a lot of the same opinions about how things should be in our industry. She got into trucking because there weren’t any other good jobs in 1980. Growing up on a farm with brothers, Joyce has never been a “girly” girl, so trucking was just a good fit – and it still is today.
Todd and Joyce Brenny met while working at the same company – Todd was a driver and Joyce was a general manager. They didn’t start dating until both had moved on from that company. While both worked in the transportation industry, it was rarely under positive circumstances. One day, in 1995, Joyce told Todd that she had to make a change, and was actually thinking about going back to school and switching careers. In reality, she didn’t want to get out of the transportation business, but she could not remain in the industry the way it was. But, instead of leaving, she decided to start her own transportation company and do things her way – the right way!
Treating people the way that she and Todd wanted to be treated would be the cornerstone of their business. Todd was very supportive of Joyce in this endeavor. So, in 1996, Joyce and Todd humbly brought Brenny Transportation Inc. into the trucking world in a small rented office in Waite Park, MN. Back then, there were only three employees and the power of a great idea. They wanted to show the trucking world that you could be successful by providing “Grand Champion Customer Service” in an honest and ethical manner. And this philosophy has paid off – big time!
Brenny doesn’t have drivers and dispatchers, they have team members. Everyone is part of the team, and all are treated like family. No one there is just a number – they are part of the family. Joyce told me that some of the other company heads she works with at the Minnesota Transportation Association can’t believe that her employees are also her friends, and that they share in each other’s joys and sorrows, as life happens. Celebrating when the occasion calls for it, and helping when times are tough, such as losing loved ones or fighting an illness, is the kind of camaraderie you’ll find at Brenny. We all have bad days, but knowing that you work with people who truly care about you, can really make a difference.
When Joyce was asked to be part of the MTA (Minnesota Transportation Association) she told them right out that she wouldn’t waste her time or theirs if she would not be allowed to speak up for the drivers! They agreed, and she has been involved with the association ever since. Todd and Joyce both enjoy the occasional times they get out and hit the road. Joyce told me a story about a customer that several drivers were having problems with. To get a better perspective, Joyce and Todd got in a truck and went to that dock. The people there had no idea who they were. And guess what – the drivers were right, and this customer found themselves looking for another carrier. I’m sure there are not many companies that would go to this extreme to stand behind their drivers, but they did. Way to go, Brenny!
Getting back in a truck and hauling loads occasionally keeps Joyce and Todd in touch with what it’s like to be a driver. Many times, when drivers get in the office, they begin to forget what it’s like to be out there. Things change, and to keep up, I really believe getting in a truck and going down the road with a load is the only real way to keep up.
In 2017, Brenny Transportation Inc. became the first trucking company to ever win the Minnesota Business Ethics Award! Congratulations to both Brenny Transportation and the state of Minnesota for getting it right. On their website (brennytransportation.com), the list of awards that the company, and Joyce personally, have received is long, and they are all well-deserved. Also, on the website, I was impressed to see the pictures of the people who work there, standing in front of the American flag and their trucks, with huge, genuine smiles on their faces.
But, above everything else, what impressed me the most was their ability to keep drivers – for a long time (driver retention says a lot). On the website, you can find a list of every driver and owner operator in their fleet, along with their years of service and, in some cases, the number of miles they have driven for Brenny. If they are a military veteran, that is noted, as well. There are three “Highway Angels” (drivers who have passed away) listed on the site – Bruce Fredrickson went home in 2015; Samuel Vazquez went home in 2014; and Eddie Supan went home in 2012.
With several of their drivers being around for many years, a few have been recognized in the “High Mile Club” for their dedication. Seven drivers – Randy, Gary, Brad, John, Duane, Tim and Don have 500,000 miles with Brenny; seven other drivers – Bill, Fred, Gary, Russell, Robert, John and Dan have run 1 million miles; and three drivers – Jeff, Troy and Joe have logged 1.5 million miles with Brenny! But, whether you are Jeff, who has been an owner operator with Brenny since October 1998, or Kari, who just became a new company driver this month, you will be treated with the same kindness and respect at Brenny.
Following the Golden Rule and treating others as you would like to be treated yourself, has earned Brenny not only a good reputation, but also awards and recognition, financial success, driver retention unlike any company I have ever seen, and, best of all, happy team members that feel more like a family than co-workers. In trucking, if service is king, Brenny Transportation wears the crown! Congratulations!!