Editor's note: Jayden Hensley of Osakis was one of five students from around the country to receive a scholarship from the Missouri-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which awards scholarships to the children, grandchildren or legal dependents of their members. Hensley's father, Darrin Hensley, belongs to the association. An essay is part of the criteria. Below is Jayden’s entry.

By Jayden Hensely, Osakis, MN

From the second I was brought into this world to my senior year of high school, I have been in the trucking industry. It has been in the family for 45 years now, started by my grandfather, Chub Hensley, then passed down to my father, Darrin Hensley. Since growing up with this influence, I have learned to be kind, put in hard work and have flexibility.

When it came to being kind, it came very naturally. My family has always kept our truck drivers, mechanics, and other employees best interest first. They threw Christmas parties to bring everyone together, writing letters to show our gratitude, and bonuses to make sure they know their hard work paid off. Not to bring too much attention to the contentious matter, but during the COVID chaos, we made sure that the employees had access to hand sanitizer, extra masks, and disinfectant wipes at all times to keep everyone healthy wherever they may be.

For hard work, my grandfather fits this position best out of everyone I know. Chub Hensley started his young adult years in the war, putting in hard work overseas to protect our country. Then, as he started settling down to create a family and business, he put in hard work to provide for his loved ones. Chub had one truck and trailer to pull around as his wife Jan found the loads to haul. They worked endless hours and years to help it build before he passed it down to my father. We now have 40 semis, over 100 reefer units, and three buildings to help the process run smoothly. Without the guts and dedication that Chub put in, our business would not look like what it does today.

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Finally, flexibility is key. In our business, there are a large variety of personalities that you have to work alongside with. It will not always be easy, but you work with what you are provided. There may not always be the perfect load, but there may be one that will accommodate the trucker more than the business which could be better in the long run. You never want to put your driver in an uncomfortable situation so you need to find tools to make them more comfortable. Whether that means certain hours with less traffic, parking in a lot over a rest stop, looking for obstacles that may obscure their path, or simply assisting them when they are confused about directions. It does not matter how big or small you may flex, just as long as you show that you are willing to go the extra mile to validate their concerns shows how amazing you are as an owner and you should expect the same from your employees.

As I have stated, I am going for business administration with an emphasis in management. With this degree, I hope to carry on the business with these attributes and many more that I was taught. I feel this is utilized quite well seeing that my parents taught me the importance of being so connected to the business and pushing to get the extra education, I will know how to keep our business on track with all the changing conditions.

Lastly, I hope that the changes are made not necessarily to the industry itself but by the bystanders that see our drivers as a negative idea. I hope that the industry gets the respect and gratitude that they deserve for keeping America moving forward.