Editorial: October 2017
As I write this at the end of August, Hurricane Harvey continues to sit over south Texas causing devastating floods that are driving thousands of people from their homes in the Houston area. By the time you read this, the stories will have come out in the American media about the Texan rental stores who have moved heaven and earth to respond to the disaster, bringing in extra equipment and working day and night to get life- and property-saving supplies to the people who need them.
By Patrick Flannery
It’s what our industry does in these situations. There’s even a tie-in to this month’s profile on Alberta Construction Rentals. You see, Warren Carriere, ACR’s president, has expanded into Fort McMurray in part because of the large amount of business available there in the reconstruction efforts following last year’s wildfires. It’s a nice example of business interests meshing with the public good to make everyone’s lives better. With all due respect to our disaster-relief services, I shudder to think what would happen if provision of equipment were left entirely in the hands of public servants. There’s nothing like the energy and expertise of rental professionals who do this for a living.
The rental industry and its suppliers do a lot of good for people in need with charitable donations of equipment and time. You’ll often read about these stories in Canadian Rental Service – but not always. The primary mission of this magazine is to give you information that helps your business. How does hearing about the good deeds of company X help you make money? It really doesn’t, except to the extent that it may give you ideas for similar actions your company can take that might enhance your profile in your local market. That’s worthwhile and that’s why our coverage tends to focus on novel efforts that take a different approach to charitable giving, such as WestJet’s splashy event last year for the residents of Fort McMurray. I posted a video of that event (which involved local event and equipment rental companies) on our digital channels because of the creativity and magnitude of the effort. At one point, WestJet had gifts for the attendees descending on little parachutes out of the night sky. That was pretty cool and I thought it might get your gears turning as to eye-catching things you could do to attract attention to your business.
Contrast that to the notices that fill up my inbox of corporate donations to such causes as cancer research or children’s hospitals. Worthy causes, for sure. Efforts that should be encouraged and rewarded, absolutely. But this magazine is not in the business of trying to guide or influence corporate behaviour. There’s no social mission here, because I have no moral or intellectual authority to tell you how you should act. If I tried to do so, I’d be the same as those actors and musicians who feel they can lecture us on politics just because they are on TV. So while I might approve of a corporate donor’s actions, I’m not going to take my personal approval as a reason why it should be promoted to you. And editorial coverage in this magazine should never be viewed as any kind of reward for services rendered, whether to the community or anywhere else. It exists to serve you, the reader, and for no other reason. Bottom line, if the purpose of the donation was to help the cause, then the donation itself has served that purpose. If the purpose of the donation was to generate publicity for a particular company, then the appropriate channel for its promotion is advertising. Much as I might approve of a company’s good deeds, it’s not within the scope of this magazine to engineer the behaviour of this industry. We are a conduit for information, not an activist organization.