Employee Spotlight: Mark MacKinnon

The five Core Values at the heart of our culture – teamwork, initiative, determination, professionalism, and passion - are what drive our team members to contribute to Modern Niagara’s success and growth in the industry while fostering their individual success. We reached out to Mark MacKinnon, a Foreman at Modern Niagara Alberta and professional Muay Thai athlete. Mark captured the World Boxing Council Canadian Cruiserweight Championship in Calgary on Saturday, July 3rd. Mark spoke to us about his journey into both the trades and his sport, as well as his work on the Calgary Cancer Centre and what core values and personal growth mean to him. 

Mark first entered the trades in his hometown of Sydney, Nova Scotia when he enrolled in a plumbing course at Nova Scotia Community College’s Marconi Campus in 2006.  

“My Dad helped direct me towards a trades school back home in Sydney,” Mark said. “My Uncle was the guidance counselor at the Marconi Campus, and he suggested that I pick up a trade, so I chose plumbing and that’s how it all started.”  

While working towards his course, Mark was enticed to move to Calgary in 2007 after an Alberta-based contractor was recruiting on his campus. After settling into his new location, Mark eventually made the move to join Modern Niagara. 

“I was working as a General Foreman at a project for a Vancouver-based contractor from 2016 to 2019,” said Mark.  

“After that was done, the move to Modern fell into place because the Calgary Cancer Centre project was just starting, so I reached out to Jason Crosbie (Director of Labour, Modern Niagara) and began working for Modern in January 2019, and the rest is history!”  

Mark MacKinnon

Mark MacKinnon, Foreman at Modern Niagara Alberta

Mark is currently working as a foreman at the Calgary Cancer Centre – the project which started his career with Modern Niagara. When asked about his experience at the company and working on-site, Mark shared his positive reflections on his time with Modern Niagara.  

“I love working for this company, I really do!” Mark affirmed. “I always say that I feel as if I won the lottery because I think Modern Niagara is the best mechanical contractor in the country and that’s something I take a lot of pride in.” 

While also pursuing a career in the trades, Mark has spent many years practicing and competing in martial arts.   

“I was growing up around the time that MMA was making its breakthrough into the mainstream and I had already been doing some martial arts back home when I moved to Calgary, so I just wanted to find an outlet for it,” Mark said.  

“I knew I wanted to compete even before I joined a club out here, but I was fortunate enough to join a good club in Calgary in 2008 that gave me the opportunities to get in the ring.”  

Mark’s desire to compete recently won him the WBC’s Canadian Cruiserweight Muay Thai Championship earlier this month, an opportunity that had been delayed for some years by injuries and, more recently, the pandemic. 

“I was really happy with the result, although to be honest, I had it in my mind that it wasn’t going to go any other way,” Mark commented.   

“I was 100% confident and I didn’t have doubt in my mind, but it definitely was a huge relief, especially since that particular event was three years in the making, with injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic delaying it until recently, so it really makes it all worth it.”  

However, he was quick to mention that his mind is still fixed on his ambitions of achieving a world title somewhere in the near future.  

“Right now, I’m currently the WBC Canadian Champion, but my end goal is definitely to become the WBC World Champion!” Mark said.   

“Before the fight, I was ranked 14th in the world by the WBC, but after winning the Canadian title they have moved me up to 8th.” 

Mark MacKinnon with the WBC Muay Thai Canadian Cruiserweight Championship Belt

Mark after winning the WBC Muay Thai Canadian cruiserweight championship

Along with his recent success, Mark mentioned that an important personal development with martial arts was his adoption of a growth-mindset, which he believes went hand-in-hand with his growth in the trades.  

“Martial arts have given me a growth mindset and developing that mindset through repetition and constantly striving to improve has really been a catalyst for my success in the mechanical industry,” Mark described.  

“That constant growth has built up momentum to become a positive feedback loop and, looking back over the years, I feel like I’ve developed a lot both in and out of the ring.”  

Mark also mentioned how a lot of his own personal core values share similarities with those of Modern Niagara.   

“As I’ve developed that mindset, one of my core values I’d say is to be better than yesterday, that’s how I’m really trying to live my life,” said Mark.  

“I think the number one thing is determination and always striving to become the best version of yourself, which includes recognizing and understanding your mistakes, accepting responsibility, and learning how to grow from them.”  

Mark also stressed his passion for self-learning as an important part of his personal growth in the industry.   

“Always learning, evolving, and striving for professionalism are big parts of my day-to-day,” Mark highlighted.  

“I try and do a lot of self-directed learning, I read a lot and listen to audiobooks on my commutes to and from work, and I feel like that self-mastery and learning is a big part of who I am.”  

Mark believes that anyone who is looking to enter the trades or is new to the industry should also focus on proactive learning, especially from the experience of others around sites.  

“Ask questions, there’s no such thing as bad questions, and seek out a mentor, find someone who you can learn from,” Mark added.   

“Some people get lucky, and a person takes them under their wing, but if that doesn’t happen, I think you need to advocate for yourself and show that you have the interest and want to improve if you do that someone is going to take notice and help you.”  

Mentorship is also a crucial aspect of any sport, including martial arts, where a good coach can have a significant impact on the success of the individual they work with. During his time with Modern Niagara, Mark mentioned that he benefited from similarly impactful mentorship from Jason Crosbie, Director of Labour at Modern Niagara Alberta.  

“Jason Crosbie has been an incredible influence on me, especially in the way he inspires the whole group here at the project,” Mark added.   

“With the interview process that he had in place to bring people into the Calgary Cancer Centre, he really tells the whole Modern Niagara story and I feel like he really spreads that passion for the company and those core values that are so important.”