by Dennis Dalman
Joyce Brenny, the founder and chief executive officer of Brenny Transportation in St. Joseph, has been chosen to serve as the grand marshal in the Fourth of July parade in downtown St. Joseph.
The parade will start at 10 a.m.
Brenny was stunned upon hearing of the honor.
“Grand marshal?” she said to herself. “In my hometown? Oh my gosh! Me? Really?”
During an interview with the St. Joseph Newsleader, she recalled how, as a girl, she would attend the St. Joseph parade every July and wave from the sidewalks to the people in the parade, including to its grand marshals. Now it’s Brenny’s turn to wave back.
“It’s humbling to be among that group of so many good people – those grand marshals,” she said.
It just so happens that she will be riding in the parade in the very first truck she and her husband, Todd, purchased for Brenny Transportation – a 1993 Peterbilt. They decided to refurbish the old truck, and it was completed coincidentally almost exactly at the time Joyce heard she’d been named grand marshal.
Todd will drive the Peterbilt in the parade with Joyce next to him. There will be a few more Brenny Transportation vehicles behind the Peterbilt on the parade route. Also riding with will be the Brennys’ daughter Holly, her husband Scott Simon and their two boys – Sutton, 5; and Briggs, 1. Holly, a registered nurse, is the wellness director for Brenny Transportation, and Scott is the company’s shop-maintenance manager.
Throughout the years, Brenny and her company have won scores of prestigious awards — locally, statewide and nationally — for dedication to the trucking industry, for strengthening all aspects of it, for safety programs and for supporting and promoting women in that profession.
The organization known as Women in Trucking named Brenny Transportation the “Top Place for Women to Work.” The business has been honored as a Certified Women Business Enterprise.
In 1981, Brenny began her trucking career as a semi-truck driver, hauling railroad ties. In 1986, she transitioned into sales and management for a large carrier. In 1996, she founded her own logistics and trucking company (Brenny Transportation) in St. Joseph. The business is located at 8505 Ridgewood Rd.
Brenny is recognized far and wide as an innovative leader in trucking. She was the first woman trucker to chair the Minnesota Trucking Association. She is president of the St. Christopher’s Trucker Relief & Development Fund. That nonprofit organization helps drivers and their families when an illness or injury causes them to be out of work.
In 2012, Brenny was named the most influential woman in trucking by the Women in Trucking organization.
She is a member of the Minnesota Trucking Association Board of Directors as well as on the American Trucker Relief & Development Fund and serves on that organizations Safety Policy Committee.
“It is my purpose to improve the trucking industry for those who have dedicated their life to serve in the noble profession of trucking and transportation,” Brenny said.
Through the years, a staggering number of awards keep stacking up for Brenny, her employees and their company. They include multiple awards for every conceivable aspect of trucking, including many awards for individual Brenny drivers.
“The one I’m most proud of is the Minnesota Ethics Award in 2017,” Brenny said.
Brenny Transportation has 125 employs, including 75 drivers who truck goods all over the United States and Canada. The company has a 90-percent driver-retention rate, which is rare for a trucking company.
“We have driver advisory board to help us make decisions that are good for truck drivers — to support them,” she said. “The drivers are the front-line force. We work as a backline force for them.”
Joyce (Sauer) Brenny was born and raised in St. Joseph on a farm, the daughter of Ralph and Carole Sauer. The farm was founded by grandparents Claude and Loretta Dullinger. It was grandfather Claude who loaned Joyce $10,000 to start her trucking business back in 1996.
Brenny said it will be a thrill to be in the St. Joseph Fourth of July parade – not just as a parade member but as its grand marshal, waving to all the well-wishers lining the streets.