With a forecasted high of 27˚C (80.6˚F), Saturday, September 9th, 2017, dawned brilliantly on MacDon’s Family Day in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Arriving early at 7 AM at the Tinkertown Outdoor Amusement Park, MacDon President and CEO Gary Giesbrecht was surprised to find three cars filled with excited children already waiting in the parking lot. By the time the park’s gates opened at 8:30 the number of people waiting at the entrance would swell to 600 or 700, just a fraction of the more than 4,500 people who would pass through it by the day’s end.
“A lot of families showed up early, as they must have figured that it was better to have the kids waiting there than at home to control their excitement” said Giesbrecht. “I had one employee tell me that his kids couldn’t sleep the night before at all. From when they put them to bed at seven or eight o’clock they never slept a wink, they were that excited.”
Always eagerly anticipated, MacDon Family Days have occurred every three or four years since they first began back in the early 1980s. They are usually scheduled around important company milestones such as an anniversary, a plant expansion or a new product launch, but their primary purpose is always to bring MacDon families together for a fun-filled day that gives everyone a chance to meet and socialize.
“Family Day gives employees from across the company a chance to meet each other’s spouses and children and learn a little more about each other” said Giesbrecht. “The day is about honoring MacDon’s past, present and future, and the role we all play in MacDon’s success. It really helps to strengthen the fact that we are all in this together.”
MacDon’s Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing Gene Fraser sees Family Day as a continuation of the culture established by company founders Joe and Anne MacDonald back in the 70s.
“Meeting the people behind the employee was very important to Joe and Anne,” said Fraser. “They considered an employee’s spouse and children part of MacDon’s extended family. I think that the family culture that they created has helped MacDon enjoy a higher level of employee loyalty than other companies might. Family Days reinforce that culture, and the idea that a job at MacDon is about more than just money, more than just benefits.”
“Family Day provides us the opportunity to appreciate the number of lives our Company touches,”
The 2017 edition of Family Day was held to celebrate the launch of MacDon’s next generation of equipment including the all new M1 Series Windrowers and FD1 and D1XL headers; with all products present to give employees the chance to show their work to their families.
“For the day I wanted our past product to be lined up side by side with our new products so that the employees could see our progress as a manufacturer and the positive future of MacDon,” said Giesbrecht. “We had picnic tables out in front of the machines where I had a chance to sit and watch employees explaining the equipment to their families and their roles in making it. Justifiably, they showed immense pride in their work, as their contribution is not only important for the success of MacDon but also for the success of farmers around the world.”
In addition to the opportunity to enjoy Tinkertown’s many amusement rides, the day also gave guests the chance to get a little closer to farm life through a special display set up by Agriculture In The Classroom.
“We had Ag In The Classroom educating the children, even some of our newer employees, about some of the aspects of agriculture they might not know,” said Fraser. “For example there was one station explaining how canola seed is pressed and turned into oil for food, or how wheat is turned into flour. Information like that helped bring the whole farm story home to many of these families so that they could better understand the connection between their parents work and the food on their tables.”
Other popular exhibits included the Fit Kids Healthy Kids Motion Zone, supplied by Sport Manitoba, as well as a petting farm provided by The 10 Acre Woods Petting Farm filled with farm animals. One of the day’s biggest highlights was supplied by the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre which released two rehabilitated hawks to the wild.
“For many of the families these exhibits were a chance to see some of these animals, especially the farm animals, up close for the first time,” said Giesbrecht. “The rehabilitation center even brought about 10 or 12 chinchillas that they were trying to find homes for, and every one of them went home with a MacDon family. Things like that really help bring agriculture closer to the heart of the kids.”
Giesbrecht says that of the many memories that were formed on the day, perhaps the most lasting impression is just how many people are part of the MacDon story.
“Family Day provides us the opportunity to appreciate the number of lives our Company touches,” said Giesbrecht. “Every employee requires the support and understanding of their family to do their jobs well, and Family Day gives those families a chance to understand a little more about the world of MacDon.”