Canadian Rental Service

CRA President’s Message: The vision thing

By Mike Maltby CRA president   

Canadian Rental Association business

Most of us have an idea where we want to get to. Some even have a generic mission statement that reads something like “XYZ Rentals strives to become the best rental company in our market.” But how many of us have taken the time to think through appropriate measures that will allow us to measure where we are, and how far we have come? Vision statements were all the rage in every business a while back.

I guess someone told owners about Microsoft’s (“A computer on every desk”) so they dutifully assembled the team in the boardroom, wrote one-liners on a whiteboard then chose one and made a plaque to hang in the office on the off-chance that this would turn them into Microsoft. For most companies, I think that is where it ended. There the poor vision statement has hung ever since, gathering dust. For the most part, this is because the vision statement was too vague in the first place and the company didn’t really understand why they were making one.

I was recently at a CRA members’ meeting held at Higgins Event Rentals, a rapidly expanding party and special event member in the crowded Toronto marketplace. The Higgins brothers have a very clear and well-defined vision for their company’s desired growth over the next five years. In fact, they’ve designed a “vision board” with measurable milestones and hung it on the wall of their warehouse for all to see. More to the point, each of their team members understands where the company is headed and, because of the included milestones, will know how their progress measures up to the goal.

In his welcome message to the group, John Higgins credited much of Higgins’ success to becoming “committed to saying yes” – a sentiment shared among many top players in our industry. When you commit to saying yes to your customers, you become an indispensable resource to them. When you don’t have something in your inventory but commit to finding it for your customer, you take the burden off their back. It reinforces why they call you first. If you continue to say yes enough times, you will become that customer’s only call. Higgins’ commitment to saying yes to customers will surely help them along their journey to achieving their vision.  

Our vision at the Canadian Rental Association reads, “CRA envisions the time when consumers choose rental first as the solution to their needs.” So how do we get there? We get there when businesses like Higgins, and like all of our members, make a commitment to saying yes. We get there when it’s easier for customers to get their job, event or project done with our help. We get there when we can help customers handle regulatory compliance, training and demonstrating how our products work in a safe and effective fashion. These are what add value to our customers.  


If you have ideas for how our association can achieve its vision, I’d love to hear them. The staff at head office, the executive team and the provincial directors are always available to hear from you.

Show season will be about half-way through as you read this. I hope you had the chance to attend your local CRA show, or are planning to if yours hasn’t happened yet. The Canadian Hospitality Night will be, as usual, the highlight of ARA’s The Rental Show in New Orleans and registrations for it are at an all-time high. But while you are at the show, don’t forget to exercise your right as a CRA member to attend our Annual General Meeting, taking place Feb. 19. It’s a chance to thank the old board, meet the new board and have your say on association business.

It’s also a time to gather new perspectives and new learning by getting out of the store for a while. Who knows? You may hear something that changes your company’s vision.

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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