Founded in 1976 by Hugh and Margaret MacGregor, the company was built on the basis of providing the highest quality products and services, while maintaining a strong relationship with all of the company's client base. MacGregor's Custom Machining, the flagship company of MacGregors Industrial Group, started off in a small workspace servicing the local resource industries and manufacturing sector.They now employ 60 people and are now a third generation Pictou County business.
I recently sat down with Andy MacGregor, a second generation family member and co-owner of the company to discuss some of the strengths and challenges of operating a medium sized business in rural Nova Scotia.
Andy was quick to point out that Pictou County has a hardworking, intelligent and dedicated workforce. He is proud of the fact that he has not lost any of his employees to western Canada. The local Community College offers good training by knowledgeable teachers resulting in a strong labour pool from which to draw.
Asked about Pictou County as a location for business he indicated that his marketplace spreads from Newfoundland to Nunavut and all the way south to the Caribbean and that proximity to his clients poses no challenges.
“Good customer service and a respectful attitude towards our employees is the key to our success!”
Asked about the challenges that faced his industry, Andy said that keeping orders on the books was always a priority for them and that his son Nick proactively visits potential clients on a regular basis so his workforce can have steady employment as the orders come in. His biggest concern, however, is the cost of doing business in Nova Scotia. Workers Compensation fees are the second highest in Canada and that combined with the ever-increasing demands of the Nova Scotia Labour Department and high taxes continue to drive up costs making it difficult to be competitive.
His second greatest concern was the lack of integration and consultation between business and government.
“They are enacting legislation that affects business without consulting with businesses beforehand” he says.
Both in the short term and long term this drives up the cost of doing business in Nova Scotia. As an example he cited the recent granting of a provincial holiday in February that has a negative impact on his costs and the company’s profit margins.
Asked what he thought some of the solutions might be for businesses in rural Nova Scotia he cited the need for more small and medium-size businesses. He is also a fan of “economic gardening” where local businesses support each other.
His advice to the business community is “get involved and understand what’s going on.
“This is not a business-friendly province (for example, Bill 102, First Contract Arbitration) “and we need more mentoring between businesses in order to collectively address some of the outstanding issues that affect all businesses in Nova Scotia.”
On the subject of the Ivany report MacGregor indicated that he thought there was a lot of good material and suggestions included but he was skeptical on how many of the recommendations would be acted upon.
“There is no sense going to meetings and just talking about it” he said. “If anything is to materialize it needs to be acted on now and not be just another report gathering dust on the shelf!”
Faus Johnson is a graduate of Dalhousie University and the University of Western Ontario Ivey School of Business> He resides in the Town of Pictou