Growing Up In Northern Canada
Mike was born in the northern provincial border city of Flin Flon, Manitoba. Spending his first years in Creighton, his family moved for a time to the nearby Village of Denare Beach. This was where Mike began school in the one room schoolhouse for kindergarten and grade one students with his mother Gladys as the teacher. The old school building still exists as a landmark of the area and has been relocated to the site of the Northern Gateway Museum in Denare Beach, Saskatchewan.
During first grade, his family moved back into the town of Creighton, to the home where Mike’s parents still reside today. His father, Glen, taught middle school science at Creighton School. Attending school where his father was a teacher could have proved a challenge, but their excellent home and school relationships were kept very separate from each other. Mike credits his father for teaching him how to live with integrity and high ethical standards. Qualities that have served Mike well over the years.
Mike graduated with honors from the high school in Flin Flon with various part-time work experiences including laborer at an automotive body shop, satellite dish installation technician, curling rink ice maintenance, and gas station attendant. Even at this early stage in his life his logical approach became apparent with his chosen high school yearbook quote being, “One pound of learning requires ten pounds of common sense to apply it.” This Persian proverb remains one of his favorites today. After graduation when most of his friends and classmates left the area to pursue further educations, Mike remained. University seemed like a next step to take but was going to be a large financial commitment. Mike opted to work full time instead and acquire some experience and funds before deciding on a post secondary program. An enthusiast for all things mechanical, at the age of 18, he also acquired his private pilot’s license. His first full-time employment as a "Gulf Pump Island Specialist" was a progression from his part-time position as a gas station attendant. The station was owned by B.J. (Jim) Bennett. If the name sounds familiar, it's because Jim was a Canadian World War Two hero, featured in the docudrama “Black Watch Snipers”. Mike has fond memories of his years working for Jim and is enormously proud to have known him and called him a friend. While assisting B.J. with the operation of the station, Mike acquired an interest in small business that shaped the direction for his future.
University and Professional Career
Pursuit of his interest in business led Mike at enroll in the College of Commerce (now the Edwards School of Business) at the University of Saskatchewan. His summers were spent working at the mining operation back home in Flin Flon in order to pay his way through the winter. He was in university for a purpose, to learn as much as possible about running his own business one day. This purpose also created focus and Mike graduated with Great Distinction, being named to the Dean’s Honor List for each of the four years of his degree.
Moving on from university, Mike accepted employment with the Royal Bank of Canada (now RBC). His time with them included branch work in Saskatoon, as well as an Assistant Manager position in Tisdale, Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan District Headquarters recognized initiatives he took in Tisdale and offered him a position at the headquarters in Regina. As a result of accomplishing more with fewer staff in their department, Mike and a co-worker earned the first ever Teamwork Award issued by the Saskatchewan District RBC. This success helped him earn a position in the bank’s Western Canadian Operations department which brought him to Calgary. Here he achieved the Highest Award offered to staff of RBC, the Royal Performance Award. During his tenure with RBC Mike gained experience in project implementation and training as well as procedural and process reviews in order to maximize efficiency.
Despite his headquarters success, Mike felt a desire to serve, and work more directly with customers in a small business setting. An industry change would be required. After careful consideration of his acquired skill set, and in combination with some of his personal interests, he made the switch to the automotive industry, securing a role as a sales consultant at McKay Pontiac Buick GMC on Macleod Trail. Mike was not the stereotypical “pushy car salesman” and felt that he could do well using a different approach. Rather than focusing on selling cars, he concentrated on listening, helping customers fulfill their needs and purchase the vehicle they wanted. The strategy worked. He was salesman of the month in his third month, salesman of the year in his first full year, and promoted to manager shortly thereafter. His theory was correct, people do not want to be sold, they would rather be assisted. During his tenure in the automotive field in Calgary, he helped dealers achieve district and national performance leadership while maintaining the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
Although he enjoyed working at the dealerships, he desired to broaden his experience even further. He combined his previous technical experience with his business knowledge in the automotive field and applied it a position with national supplier of automotive website platforms. While in this position he identified an unfulfilled need of his clients and saw an opportunity with them. These businesses needed to do a more effective job of managing their digital resources but lacked the scale required to employ their own expert. Seizing this opportunity, he launched his own business venture and Maxceleration Dealer Services was born. The focus was helping automotive dealers and other small businesses maximize their exposure and accelerate their sales. The services he offers have grown over the years into the business he still operates today. It was a long and winding road but one that resulted in fulfilling a desire to run his own business that was instilled in him by Jim Bennett way back at his first full-time job after high school.
Mike’s parents were both school teachers and have been retired for some time now. His father Glen once held a position on council for the Town of Creighton and worked with a Northern Development Committee for the Province of Saskatchewan. In their retirement his parents also ran a small business doing custom framing of artwork. They eventually wound it down as it was time to actually retire for good. Mike’s only brother Rob has a successful physiotherapy clinic in Grande Prairie, Alberta and is Assistant Coach for the Sexsmith Vipers hockey team of the NWJHL. Mike’s wife Rachel is living her childhood dream practicing family medicine in Calgary.
In His Spare Time
During the winter months Mike is an avid curler having curled at the Calgary Curling Club since 1996. He is also a champion snowmobile racer. In the warmer parts of the year he enjoys golf and is a classic car enthusiast as well. In fact, he used the first lockdown as an opportunity to complete his own "pandemic project" classic vehicle which you may have seen around the neighborhood.