Canadian Rental Service

CRA President’s Message: Disaster mitigated

By Mike Maltby   

Canadian Rental Association business

On July 19 the Canadian Rental Association executive committee was in Moline, Ill., at the American Rental Association office meeting with the ARA board of directors and staff in order to provide a Canadian perspective into the development of the latest iteration of the ARA strategic plan.

While we were meeting a Category F3 tornado made a direct hit on the Vermeer manufacturing facility in Pella, Iowa. Having a facility struck by a tornado is horrific enough, but Vermeer was in the middle of its 2018 customer conference and had more than 400 customers and dealers on site at the time.

According to Jason Andringa, CEO of Vermeer, once they were alerted of severe weather the company quickly activated its emergency response system. Alarms were sounded in all buildings. Customers, dealers and employees were directed to tornado shelters inside each of the company’s facilities on the Vermeer campus. Despite the extensive damage that Vermeer’s property and buildings received, the people escaped mostly unscathed. Of the hundreds of employees, dealers, and customers on site when the tornado struck, seven received what were described as minor injuries and all were released the same day.

Despite your best efforts to avoid them, disasters and other types of emergencies can and do occur. Your best strategy for avoiding or reducing disaster-related losses and liabilities is to develop a thorough emergency plan that addresses both emergency preparation and disaster-response activities that protects your assets and limits your risk. Because Vermeer had taken the time to develop a plan for dealing with a disaster they were able to quickly put their planning into action when it was needed. Within minutes they were able to usher their customers, dealers and employees to safety and prevent a disaster from turning into a tragedy.

According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a disaster and of those that do only 29 percent were still operating after two years. One week after the tornado struck, Vermeer was rebuilding and more than 70 percent of its workforce was back on the job. Is your business prepared for an emergency or disaster?


Did you know that your association has an emergency/disaster preparedness guide to help you begin planning for an event like a tornado or other disaster? Remember that disasters are not always weather-related.

  • What would happen if you lost all your business data?
  • What if most of your staff was sick at the same time?
  • What if your access road is closed?
  • What if your telecommunication network failed?
  • What if your natural gas or water stops flowing?
  • What if you are taken hostage?

Emergency planning can be as broad or as detailed as you see fit. How differently would July 19 have turned out for Vermeer if its leadership hadn’t taken the time and devoted the resources to not only planning but practicing its emergency response.

Mike Maltby is vice-president of Ingersoll Rent-All in Ingersoll, Ont. Mike has been a fixture at CRA Ontario events since beginning his time with the association in 2006, and looks forward to connecting with CRA members nationally in the coming years.

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