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The Cooper Difference — More than a value statement

By Lauren Watts Mau

October 5, 2023

When Doug Dougherty joined forces with Darryl Cooper in 2010, Cooper Equipment Rentals, headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, had two locations and 20 employees. Today, Cooper Equipment Rentals spans across Canada with more than 60 locations with plans for even more growth. The path forward? Staying rooted in the values that Dougherty and Cooper have shared since they began in the industry at family businesses. Together, they created The Cooper Difference, which is the driving force forward for the company. Dougherty, whose background includes working at family-run operations and large corporations like United Rentals, is Cooper Equipment Rentals’ chief executive officer. He explains The Cooper Difference.

“The Cooper Difference started with basically a value statement that embodies our values,” he says. “We realized just putting that sort of statement on your website isn’t enough. People have to be able to relate to that and they have to be able to sort of define it in their own terms, what it means to them and what it looks like to them, because from the perspective of a driver or a yard person or a mechanic, it’s different than the perspective of a rental counter coordinator or branch manager or senior level executive.”

Doug Dougherty with Darryl Cooper

Key questions and concepts addressed by The Cooper Difference include working together safely, working together professionally and finding smarter equipment solutions. “We established a pattern of doing meetings all throughout the network and we would bring everybody together and we would run three-hour sessions on The Cooper Difference,” Dougherty says. “Everybody got to put their voice in the room, and everyone got to spend time with Darryl and I and learn the history of the company and what was important to us and put their own stamp on it.” Once employees leave their meeting about The Cooper Difference, they receive the coveted Cooper Equipment Rentals pin.

“Wearing the pin is our way of showing that we understand what we’re asked to do,” he says. “When we go to work every day, we’re going to remember these things and we’re going to treat people with respect. When things do go off the rails, we go back to The Cooper Difference. Let’s start from where we all agreed we were going to.” Dougherty attributes the exponential growth of the company to the people who believe in The Cooper Difference and have helped make this family-owned company still feel that way, even with more than 1,000 employees. Dougherty reflects on his beginning in rental as he discusses the future. In 1977, he was spreading oil in the yard to keep the dust down and now Cooper Equipment Rentals is focusing on its worksite safety product offerings. “We’ve come a long way,” he says.

There is more growth on the horizon, too. Dougherty envisions growth of around 15 percent year over year for Cooper Equipment Rentals and is also optimistic for the future of the industry. “The future looks good for equipment rentals. The economic argument for it from a capital allocation point of view for customers, large contractors, small- or medium sized contractors alike, it just makes sense. We have more and more customers all the time who are telling us, ‘We don’t want to own equipment, we don’t want to own anything.’ This is pointing to even more rental penetration,” he says

Click here to listen to more of Doug’s story where he further elaborates on the importance of The Cooper Difference and the future of equipment rental.

Watch him explain The Cooper Difference here.