Interstate 80 Forklift keeps finding new ways to give back
By Connie Lannan
When Michelle and Rick Strand founded Interstate 80 Forklift in Vacaville, Calif., in 2008, they made it their mission to not only serve their customers, but also give back to their community. Eight years later, that commitment is stronger than ever, with the company participating in more large charitable events each year.
Interstate 80 Forklift has participated in five large charitable events this year. One occurred in September when the Strands and their employees took part in Run to Remember.
“This was a 5K fundraising run/walk that honored 9/11 victims and heroes. We had an eight-member team called USA Proud. We had special T-shirts made for all of us to wear, complete with an eagle and an American flag on the front and our logo on the back. The race started at 9:11 a.m. It was a very special event for everyone at our company. Many of our employees signed up to participate,” Michelle says.
After the race, the Interstate 80 Forklift USA Proud team took part in another company tradition: having the Strands take everyone out for breakfast, which bonds the team and helps all of its members celebrate their achievement.
Most of the charitable events Interstate 80 Forklift participates in are those the Strands are passionate about — events they open to all employees who want to participate.
However, the Convoy of Hope, a humanitarian outreach to help those less fortunate, “was an event that one of our customers asked us to take part in,” Michelle says. “We donated equipment and volunteered our time the day of the event. We, along with
40 other volunteers, bagged more than 5,000 bags of nonperishable groceries for those who came to this event. We were truly blessed to be able to be part of such a worthy event that touched thousands of lives that day.”
Another big event was Loop the Lagoon, a 5K fundraising run that benefits the Vacaville Unified School District. “We’ve been participating in it every year since we opened. 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.
Giving back in all of these ways is just “who we are,” Michelle says. She also believes this community outreach builds pride among her employees.
“I think our employees are more appreciative of who we are at Interstate 80 Forklift and what we are about. By being involved, we are showing that we put our community, just like our customers, first. Giving back is so natural for us. It comes from the heart and we do it without hesitation. Our employees see that as our business grows, the more we give back. That is important because I want our name to be associated with doing good things,” she says.
Having a strong community presence also has made an impact with customers and other businesses. “People associate our company with giving back. We hear from people who say, ‘Aren’t you the company that sponsored this or were you involved with that event?’ Through these efforts, we’ve connected with other like-minded small businesses and have met some really wonderful people — decision-makers who we would have never met otherwise. That has been a nice benefit, too,” Michelle says.
For the Strands, giving back is the only way to do business. It’s a role they cherish and one they hope to model to their children, employees and their entire community.
This article is the latest in a 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.”
If you have a story about how those in your business are working together as a group to give their time and talent to help others, please send an email to Connie Lannan, American Rental Association (ARA) marketing manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include details about how your company’s group efforts give back to your community. Photos also are welcome.