Matt Zacher: Choose Kindness

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By Olive Gallagher, Contributing Writer

A common quality found in unsung heroes is a desire to give, rather than take. That impulse seems to be propelled by the desire to fill a need in the community or care for others. In Matt Zacher’s case, it was both.  

Raised in Canby, Matt is highly aware of how fortunate he was, as an only child, to have loving parents who provided a safe, stable home. Canby Rental & Equipment, a firm that today rents, sells and services outdoor power equipment to homeowners, landscapers, and tree services, was founded in 1979 by his grandfather.While Matt initially wasn’t driven to someday be the boss and take over the company. Matt grew up among family members who worked together – not always an easy feat among family-owned businesses – where boundaries are easily blurred, and personal relationships are strained.

Matt was an honor student and wanted to play football, but his small frame ruled out that possibility. While earning a BS in Business Administration at the University of Oregon, he discovered he much preferred marketing to accounting. After graduating in 1999, Matt joined CRE, working in various jobs in the company but not particularly expected or needed to take over.

One day in 2005, after moving into his first home in Molalla, he drove by the fire department and noticed a sign recruiting volunteers. Propelled by a strong post-9/11 desire to give back to his community, he signed on to this blended band of professional staff and volunteers. Looking back, he realizes how much that decision directed everything that came next in his life. That choice made him realize that because his family had a background in the armed services, he was pulled to become “civically responsible” and support his community in some essential way. Over the course of the eight years he was with the department, he worked to fill needs within the ranks, becoming both a certified Oregon EMT and a Lieutenant. When asked where the courage comes from to run into a fire, he replied, “Good mentors, good training, good equipment.” As he matured within the department, he realized how lucky he was to be alive and doing what he was doing.

“Crawling on your hands and feet into a structure fire, holding onto your fire brothers and sisters, you also learn over time to deal with the trauma and not panic, knowing someone’s got your back. It’s life safety first on the line…after that you just mitigate the circumstances the best you can. If you can portray calm in the middle of a storm, that’s invaluable.”

In 2008, after taking over the company, he realized the patience and perspective he had acquired in the department now served him well. He also realized his father had been silently grooming him to shoulder the responsibilities he now happily carries. Asked what one quality he values most in dealing with others, Matt’s answer was simple: “Choose kindness.”

To contact Canby Rental & Equipment, go to or call (503) 266-7811