Welcome to the Squad Spotlight Series, where we interview some of Variant’s top Ambassadors and find out more about how they have made Variant work for them. Today, we are taking a peek into the life of Jonathan Hanneken and learning how he went from a near-death experience to being one of the most successful Ambassadors at Variant.
Hanneken has a truly inspirational story about how his time at Variant helped him overcome a tough time in his life. It began in 2016, when Jonathan was seriously hurt in a forklift accident, resulting in a crushed spine and bladder, among other catastrophic injuries.
“It was a bad ordeal,” Hanneken said. “I lost my cars. My kids were eating ramen every day, ramen and hot dogs. My wife and I were going without eating for three, four days at a time. It was bad.”
Things finally turned around for Hanneken after finding a job and working his way out of debt. “We were $78,000 in debt and collections on my credit. Variant’s got me down to $3,000...and without it I don’t know where I would be.”
Since then, Variant has continued to play a role in Hanneken’s ongoing success. Hanneken heard about the Ambassador Program, one of Variant’s truck driver mentor programs, at a time when he was feeling motivated to increase his income. When he learned about the opportunities in the Ambassador Program, which allows existing drivers to earn money by recruiting new drivers, he decided to stick around. Ends up, it was the right choice. It wasn’t long before Hanneken could see the payoff – more money in his pocket and more opportunities to grow.
Hanneken finds most of his recruits on Facebook and begins to foster the relationship from there. But he knows it can be tough and reminds others that, “You will get 100 ‘no’s’ before you get a ‘yes,’” but to keep at it.” Hanneken recalls a month where he got seven recruits through orientation. His advice? Be persistent. “Once you find your groove, you’ll take off.”
Hanneken has become a mentor and a leader to his squad, his own trucking community. Through it, he’s seen benefits for him and those in his squad.
“Nathan Douglas, one of my recruits, he is the reason I really got into it. I have seen what type of good I did for him and his life and his family,” Hanneken said.“ [It] opened my eyes about how and what I can do for others, and how much it means for people like me to help people like him.”
While new drivers get to become a part of a squad, gaining a community of trucker buddies, there are benefits for everyone. Hanneken has been pushed outside his comfort zone and has grown personally through the Ambassador Program. He says, “I am not a people person, like at all, I like to be by myself … and [the Ambassador Program] really forced me to communicate.”
Hanneken finds that he is both a resource and mentor to his squad recruits. As a driver with 14 years of experience, he says, “It’s cool watching [newer drivers] grow … watching them really, really need you, to never calling ‘cause they got it.”
Variant’s Ambassador Program is a unique opportunity for our drivers to invest in the company and earn money even when they are not driving.