Canadian Rental Service

CRA President’s Message: Winter business and safety

By Tim Ranson CRA president   

Canadian Rental Association

This has always been my favorite time of year, both because of the colours of fall and the anticipation of a clear morning with the first snowfall covering the world. In every corner of this great country, winter is inevitable. In preparation for this season our rental stores have a dedicated plan each fall to prepare our fleets and switch gears for the changing equipment demands.

Our fall preparation typically starts in late winter of the previous year with our fleet needs analysis. Essentially, we look at what equipment is to be added, replaced, sold off and what new features might be added to create opportunities and complement our specific branch business. This return-to-ready review allows the service group to devote time to the equipment we will keep, yet needs work before next fall. Having it in the available lineup well before the expected need is essential to keeping our business plan functional regardless of when the weather changes to winter.  

The other area of winter preparation is customer-based. During a recent discussion with a seasoned rental manager, I asked him if he was confident in his ability to select the right mix of equipment to meet his expected demand in the next year. After some laughter, he indicated that only by knowing his customer and their business plans could he confidently manage the fleet.

He also left me with a few words of wisdom. “Are you spending time or investing time?” His branch manager, field sales rep and inside salespeople stay in tune with the client community, networking with others such as Chamber of Commerce members, municipalities and construction association members all with planned client conversations designed to determine anticipated activity for the upcoming winter. This, he said, was considered “time well-invested”. This kind of client feedback may help define what we do well, providing confirmation of where our client sees us in their supply chain and also providing us the opportunity to explore new or additional products to better project outcomes.

Additionally, client conversations prepare both the client and business partners to anticipate working together into the coming season. By planning and executing this conversation as next-year research, we are forging relationships and cementing the expectation that our company is confident and able to assist with the customer’s future needs.   


Your recipe for success needs your team at the rental location to be properly prepared for the changing seasons, recognizing the variety of ways snow, frost, wind and extremes in temperature will create hazardous conditions for each employee. An example of this within my personal experience includes handling cold steel components for scaffolding with too light a glove, or safety glasses fogging up upon entry into the wash bay or shop. We need to shift workwear to ensure it is appropriately insulating, well fitting and in good working condition. We should use the toolbox discussion time to inspect the PPE provided by the company, replacing old boot liners, providing new insulated gloves and ensuring all employees know they have access to replace damaged or non-functional clothing throughout the workday. In our organization, we provide insulated safety workboots and snow packs for field technicians and drivers who may be exposed to extreme conditions. This communicates to them that they are valued and we know the comfort and safety of the employee will translate to higher quality work at any time of year.  

Tim Ranson is Environment, Health and Safety manager at Finning (Canada) / The Cat Rental Store in Edmonton, Alta. He has worked in the rental industry for more than 20 years. Tim sat on the ARA Trade Show Committee and the ARA Risk Management Committee and helped start its Professional Driver Improvement Program. He was also a speaker/panelist over the past three years at the ARA Rental Show learning sessions.

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