Ad firm with a nose for non-profits

What started with just a telephone, a computer, a fax machine and a filing cabinet has blossomed into a chic media marketing boutique - in Port Coquitlam - with clients from Manhattan to the Philippines.

But staying true to Rhino Marketing's roots, founder and "chief rhino" Doug Morneau hasn't strayed far from his company's Oriole Avenue beginnings, keeping the business very much a family affair.

On the eve of Rhino's grand-opening party at its new Broadway Street headquarters, Morneau showed The Tri-City News around the new digs, dodging wet paint and yet-to-be-unpacked boxes of high-tech audio and video gear.

Admittedly, it's a far cry from the humble home office that Morneau says his wife, Heather, kicked him out of some years ago. And despite having since opened offices in Vancouver and Los Angeles, PoCo is still proudly Rhino's home.

Now, Heather works alongside her husband, as does Morneau's uncle, George, and the two are solely dedicated to generating income for local non-profits.

Heather liaises with community groups such as Share Family Services, Crossroads Hospice Society, Hope for Freedom Society and Eagle Ridge Hospital while George, who happens to be the father of Major League Baseball all-star and New Westminster native, Justin Morneau, travels North America collecting sports memorabilia Rhino can donate for auction to local non-profits.

It's part of a business model Rhino has increasingly embraced: Deepening ties with local philanthropists while spreading business ties internationally.

"It's really important to us to work out of PoCo," Morneau said from the sprawling but spartan Broadway Street offices. "We looked at Suter Brook, looked at Coquitlam and refused Burnaby. We all live here and we waited a year to get in."

And while Rhino pays the bills with web-design and online video production contracts with the likes of the Vancouver Canucks, HSBC, Team 1040 Radio, BCAA and Dynasty Mining, Morneau and his team plan to loan out their expertise, their state-of-the-art studios and their business partners' pocketbooks to help non-profits boost their profiles and their bottom lines.

"I'm not shy. I'll just go out and ask people for money," Morneau said, standing in front of his production studio's new green screen. "We tell our suppliers to bring money for our not-for-profits when they come. Like our New York buddies, they'll write a cheque and then show up with it before dealing with us."

tcoyne@tricitynews.com

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