Editorial: Good folks, good business
This issue we pass along the sad news that Wally Carruthers passed away in November at the age of 89. Wally was a fixture at rental events across the country while he was selling for Kango and running his own rental operation in Barrie, Ont.
By Patrick Flannery
I met him many times at Ontario CRA events, especially the golf tournaments which he continued to show up to even after he wasn’t able to get around the course any more. He was a real character and his love of this industry and his many friends in it was obvious. When I visited him to prepare his listing as one of our 10 industry influencers in 2011 it was hard to get him to talk about himself because he was so busy trying to direct my attention to other people, such as Danny Cameron of Atlantic Rentals, who he felt were more deserving of coverage. His gregarious interest in people is something I’ve encountered again and again in this business. I suppose it’s a necessary part of your personality when you spend all day serving the public. Regardless, it sure makes it a pleasure when you attend industry events and interact with rental people as much as I do.
So I think Wally displayed a certain spirit that is more common in the rental industry than in some other sectors I’ve worked in. Rental store owners are far more open with each other about their businesses, even with competitors, than business owners in other industries. And it’s common to see stores and individuals helping each other. This becomes very clear when a store falls victim to some disaster like a death or a fire and its supposed competitors rush in with replacement inventory and staff. But it also happens every day in smaller ways, where stores that are out of something or in need of an extra truck can call across town and get help. Association meetings often feature an opportunity for attendees to tour a nearby store and find out what they have and how they do what they do. Good luck getting that off the ground with, say, automotive parts manufacturers.
Some of that spirit is responsible for our profile story this month. When I was preparing our retrospective “Where are they now?” look at past profile subjects for our October 40th anniversary issue I called A-Z Rentals in Cambridge, Ont., to track down Gerry Heimpel, formerly of The Concrete Store just up the road in Waterloo. Gerry hadn’t been in the industry for many years, but was still dropping in to A-Z to visit his old friends, rent equipment to repair his tractors and chew the fat. A-Z owner Peter Lavigne was able to reach into his Rolodex and retrieve Gerry’s home phone number in less than a minute. I thought that was a strong testament to the bonds and connections rental people share, and it suggested to me that A-Z was a worthy member of our community to be included in the magazine.
One great way to meet some of the good folks in the rental industry is to attend your local show this spring. You can find a preview of this season’s shows on page 30.
Spring is almost upon us and a young rental store owner’s fancy turns to new trucks and lawn care equipment. We have you covered with Howard Elmer’s review of the latest super-duty pickup models and our annual showcase of the latest and greatest in mowers, sod cutters, aerators and everything else your landscaper clients will need. Hope you enjoy.