Inside Track: Trucking group's new leader paid her dues

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 20, 2011 - 10:34 PM
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Joyce Brenny

Joyce Brenny, a St. Cloud entrepreneur who runs 50-truck, 100-employee Brenny Specialized Transportation in St. Cloud, became the first female trucker to chair the Minnesota Trucking Association when she was elected earlier this month.

She's broken through the glass ceiling in several ways.

A farm girl who knew her way around heavy equipment, Brenny signed on as a short-haul driver for a St. Cloud lumber company after graduating from high school in 1980. After several years, she moved into an office job at another local trucking outfit.

"I worked my way up from an administrative job to customer service, dispatcher, sales and into management," she recalled. "I went to college at night and earned a degree from St. Scholastica in organizational behavior and psychology."

Brenny launched her own company in 1996.

"I wanted an environment that was more people friendly," Brenny said. "The trucking industry has been an industry that's been pretty traditional and male-dominated. That's not a problem for me. I had brothers. But the opportunities were limited at other companies. I was able to work my way up but I had a hard time convincing management to move into new opportunities. There was a negative feeling. There was also some harassment of women that was accepted.

"I said, 'Enough of this ... I'm going to give women an opportunity. I have 100 employees and 80 percent of the management team is women, but we probably have more men, counting the drivers."

Brenny, 49, said her year heading the association will focus on improving the lot of drivers, the folks who can spend days and weeks on the road.

"Truckers get paid by the mile and we are looking for more respect for drivers, and to get Minnesota shippers and receivers of freight to help drivers load and unload. The drivers are under pressure. They don't have the time to be an industry voice for themselves,'' she said.

Most of her drivers get home for the weekend, she said. The industry can keep drivers out two or three weeks at a time, she said, but "the drivers are moms and dads and they want to get home. And 80 percent of truck accidents are caused by cars."

Brenny said the MTA sponsors a program about how auto drivers should drive around trucks.

Truck drivers, under federal law, can drive up to 11 hours a day before they must take at least a 10-hour break.

Brenny Specialized Transportation recently was honored with the Gold Fleet safety award from Great West Casualty Insurance for outstanding safety, as measured by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

local or global giving?

University of St. Thomas business school and faculty in recent weeks have promoted business ethics and volunteering, both at the 2011 Rock the Garden and through social media, a promotion that has drawn thousands of responses.

At Peavey Plaza on the Nicollet Mall Thursday, the college displayed those results on large local and world maps, and asked for additional responses, as volunteers scooped ice cream. To date, results show that 80 percent of respondents hope to make a difference in Minnesota while 20 percent would prefer to make a global impact.

The UST Opus College of Business will donate up to $15,000, $1 for each response, to one of three charities: Kiva, First Book and Feed My Starving Children.

SING-ALONG FOR CHARITY

St. Paul-based Bremer Bank is targeting the upcoming Minnesota State Fair for its latest charitable endeavor.

Bremer will be the fair's newest attraction through a Giant Sing Along, which will be highlighted, for better or worse, by a Celebrity Sing-Along for Charity on Friday, Aug. 26, from 1 to 2 p.m.

Bremer is encouraging media mavens, and I presume the bar is low enough to include the Kardashians, to build a team of "media talent."

The local media team that builds the largest ... and most musical ... choir will win a donation of $1,500 from Bremer Bank to the charity of their choice. The selected charity for each team will also receive free admission tickets to the fair.

The Giant Sing Along is an "interactive participatory public art experience," as opposed to a flash mob, designed to build a musical community at the State Fair. Information is at: www.mnstatefair.org/interactive/singalong. Bremer also is encouraging anybody to upload a related video of their act on YouTube.

Bremer CEO Pat Donovan (inset), is said to be a great Irish tenor and Elvis impersonator.

I'll show if Charlie Walters, the pride of the St. Paul Pioneer Press sports pages, is willing to clear his throat for charity and the greater good of Minnesota.

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