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John Wilson on Community Involvement for Wilson’s Transportation

When Victorians think of large-scale transport – the kind needed for school trips and sporting events – they usually think of Wilson’s Transportation.  And that’s largely because the Wilson family has, for decades, dedicated itself to community involvement.

Wilson’s was founded in the 1960s by the parents of the current owner, John Wilson, who was kind enough to sit down with HeartPress to talk about giving back.

Wilson’s Transportation Commitment to Giving Back

Originally a trucking company, Wilson’s expanded to bussing in the 80s, around the time John Wilson began working with his father. Today, Wilson’s remains a family venture, with John’s wife, daughter, son and nephew also helping to run the bustling business. No longer exclusive to Victoria, the business has offices in Nanaimo, Campbell River, and Vancouver. But John is a Victorian at the core; he and his team focus much of their giving on local groups and events.

“Sometimes giving back is just the right thing to do, to make both your company and the community feel good.”

You Have to Start Somewhere

In the Wilsons’ case, the natural starting point for community giving was sports, because John and the rest of the family have a vested interest. More than 20 years ago, when giving back took a front seat in the company’s aspirations, Wilson’s began supporting the Peninsula Panthers Junior B hockey team – and they continue to this day.

Supporting the sports community is a clear direction, John explains, because transportation is a huge requirement of any sporting team. In addition to financial donations, Wilson’s offers in-kind assistance to many different teams – including the Panthers, the Victoria Grizzlies, and the Victoria HarbourCats – by bussing players and coaches to and from tournaments.

Without the generous support of Wilson’s and other local businesses, many of these sporting teams wouldn’t be here today. The HarbourCats – of which John is an owner and his son a manager and coach – are Victoria’s longest-running baseball franchise, the only one to last more than five seasons. Their success is evident in John’s favourite event of the year, the HarbourCats Home Opener, which brings in 5,000 eager fans.

Streamlining Your Giving

At the root of it, Wilson’s is a family business, and that’s why John and his marketing and community relations team are focusing on supporting other family-oriented organizations in the coming years. With significant donations to important organizations like the BC Children’s Hospital, the company hopes to continue doing good, with a larger impact.

Since becoming an oft-approached supporter, Wilson’s has also instigated a Donation Request Form, which lets potential recipients clearly explain their needs, and helps John and his team carefully consider whether the request fits into their community support structure. No business can be everything to everyone, but Wilson’s won’t be finished giving back anytime soon.

“It’s not just words,” John says, “it’s actions, too. Being involved and having your ownership, management, and team involved … when people see that, it comes back in spades.”

Relaxing the ROI

As John sees it, Wilson’s wouldn’t be where it is today, the 2nd largest bus company in British Columbia and practically a household name, if it wasn’t for the support of the community, so it only makes sense that they would want to give back, in as many ways as possible, to the people who got them here.

Victoria, specifically, is “a special place, where people really care about people and businesses who care about the community,” John explains. Even though this mindfulness, this “return on investment” of giving back in Victoria, is considerable, John stresses that’s not the only nor the primary reason to strive for community involvement. Sometimes giving back is just the right thing to do, to make both your company and the community feel good. And in the end, there’s always a benefit to the company – Wilson’s success is a prime example of that.

“It’s not just words,” John says, “it’s actions, too. Being involved and having your ownership, management, and team involved … when people see that, it comes back in spades.”

Create your own community investment portfolio for your company.

Contact us to connect with our experts at HeartPress PR to get started on your corporate giving plan.

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