2015 : Giving Back Is 'Who We Are'

October 2015 Editor's note: This is the latest in the series of ARA Foundation spotlights on the organized philanthropic efforts of rental store businesses and manufacturers/suppliers of rental equipment — volunteer endeavors that are being highlighted throughout October during “ARA Makes a Difference in Your Community Month.”

Michelle and Rick Strand, president and vice president, respectively, at Interstate 80 Forklift in Vacaville, CA, have made giving back to their community a personal as well as a business commitment.

“Giving back is just a part of who we are,” Michelle says. So, when they began their rental business in 2008, they naturally incorporated that philosophy into their business.

“We started out small, just Rick and I. Now we have five full-time employees. We open up all of the charitable activities we are involved in with our employees and their families,” Michelle says.

For instance, a year after they opened, they heard about the Loop Lagoon, a 5K fundraising run that benefits the Vacaville Unified School District. “We’ve been participating in it every year since then. We open it up to everyone here. We pay for their registration fee and then, after the run, we take everyone out for breakfast,” she says.

Last year, they added another event that tested their endurance and teamwork skills. They participated in the St. Jude Warrior Dash to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. 

“St. Jude’s is close to my heart,” Michelle says. “This event was a 3½-mile, 12-obstacle-course race. We invited all of our employees to take part, if they wished. Even one of our vendors joined us. It was a neat and unique opportunity that created a lot of camaraderie and erased that line between employee and business owner. It took us one hour and 20 minutes to finish, but we all finished. When we were done, we were caked in mud from head to toe because in a lot of these obstacles you had to help each other through them. I had my mechanic pulling me out of mud trenches. It was a real team effort. Afterwards, we all took part in the event’s celebration and then had to hose off all of that mud,” she says.  

“We’re thankful that we have the physical ability to participate and have the financial means to give. These events serve both purposes. We have a family atmosphere here, so we offer these events to our employees,” she says, noting that “our contributions are done with a heart of appreciation for our customers and vendors who have believed in us and have supported us, in addition to our employees who show up every day and work really hard. It is because we have been so blessed with all of this that we pay it forward by supporting our community and various charities.”

Participating in these events with employees who wish to partake has been “a real positive” for all involved, Michelle says. It has increased camaraderie, teamwork and a sense of pride among everyone in the organization. It demonstrates that helping your community is good for business.

Source: Rental Pulse.com online article

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