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Monday, January 23, 2017

Two Cowboys: Building a Business on Old-School Values at Canyon Rigging in Calgary, Alberta

Old-School Values

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"Dig your well before you're thirsty."

In today's world, the principles that make commerce successful is obfuscated by unnecessary complexity. It is confused by things people do that masquerade as a business. It is becoming harder and harder to understand what should be done to succeed in any business.

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It is not easy to know anymore what makes a business success or failure. Is it profit, size, social reach, or the preferential ride with taxpayer funded grants and subsidies?

To simplify the conversation, one should note that inherently commerce is a social endeavour. It is the way whereby people co-operate in large groups. It is a fundamental part of any society that let us act and work together for everyone's benefit. When we are better off, we have an increase in resources, health, and safety with luxuries like self-actualization through art, philosophy and music. When commerce is healthy, everyone benefits.

Basic biological instinct and social behaviours may get us by in a small family unit or band, but it falls massively short of helping to construct large cooperative and prosperous societies. Large-scale cooperation is a relatively new phenomenon on the evolutionary scale of our species. And, it is very much needed if we are planning to stick around on this planet for long.

The rules for co-operation remained fluid through the evolution of society. There have been many successes that resulted in prosperity, safety and progress. There have equally been many disasters, which resulted in war, famine and the death of many people. Finding a way to successfully cooperate is an ongoing human endeavour. That is why we should pay attention and learn from our mistakes.

Core and simple principles serve as ground rules for fruitful cooperation, commerce and ultimately for the health of society. These principles also serve as personal values for the people involved in the group. It is the standards by which we behave. It defines what one personally and as a group consider to be important. The same exist in day-to-day business dealings. Strong, constructive and supportive values keep economic cooperation healthy, and everyone should prosper.

What values are needed to succeed in business?

Every successful business person can contribute to a plethora of knowledge about the values that work in their respective organisations and markets. The company profiles you've seen on this site is a minute collection of the successes and wisdom of inspiring entrepreneurs. There are common themes across the stories. One that continues to stand out is the topic of good personal and organisational values. With effective and supportive values a business tends to be more successful overall.

At Canyon Rigging, we've found another inspiring business that puts core and useful values at the heart of everything they do. As a result, they've prospered. They keep on growing even during a massive market downturn in Alberta, Canada. Gregg Hampton, the founder, succeeded in laying a firm principled foundation for the future of the company, its workers, clients and ultimately for their community.

Canyon Rigging is a family business that was started in 1998 in the foothills of Southern Alberta, twelve miles Southwest of Okotoks. They do custom cargo securement and rigging and manufacture some of their products at their factory in Calgary. Gregg, the founder president of the company, has been in the cargo securement and rigging industry since 1978 bringing almost 40 years experience to the enterprise.


The values that stand out from Gregg and his company are not just values for business, but foundational personal principles for success. Living by these will have a profoundly positive impact on any business and its customers. Here are only a few we picked up during our visit:

  • "Advertise what you do, and try and do it well."
  • "Do what you say, and say what you do."
  • "The key is keeping your word and honouring your commitment."
  • "Dig your well before you're thirsty."
  • "You can't make a Dollar and spend two. You're gonna be done."
  • "When you get, give. When you learn, teach."
  • "Good old-fashioned service is the key to success. It shouldn't go out of style."
  • "Employ local people. Employees take pride in what they do because they see who they do it for."
Passing the torch on to the next generation is a challenge for any founder. Gregg is busy imparting his knowledge to Dan, his son in law, the same way he received it when he started his business.

There is no chance for his, or any business to make this transition successfully without passing on the values and principles that made the business successful in the first instance. Technologies change. Industries change. Simple business principles and core values are timeless, for any business, and for every society that wants to keep on prospering. We should work hard at living them every day.

Hendrik van Wyk
Rigging Cowboy

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