Hall of Fame
Don (Ducky) MacLean
By Lisa Rennie (Don's Daughter)
Dynamic Earth – Sudbury, Ontario
December 2nd, 2016
What’s in a name? My father has many facets to him, and with each side of him, and each time in his life, he in fact, had a different name. You can always tell the point in time someone knew him, by what name they called him.
Son Donny, was the take charge oldest child. Brother Donny, was described by his sister as “somewhat benign but always an observant presence”. Donny’s sisters tell stories of him hoarding all of his candy while they ate all of theirs. He would then pay his younger sister in candy to run around and do errands for him, all the while admonishing her for not saving her candy. A Capitalist and Entrepreneur from the get go.
Donny followed in his father’s footsteps, working underground and becoming the youngest shift boss the mine ever had. Along with his descent down the mine elevator, Donny became Ducky MacLean, after his father Ducky.
Ducky was before my time, but sit around any mine site lunchroom and Ducky stories abound. He was tough and driven but always fair, and wouldn’t expect anything of his shift that he wasn’t willing to do himself. And when the shift was over, there wasn’t a glass of scotch nor pint of beer that was left on the table.
In 1973, his desire to be his own boss came to fruition with the birth of MacLean Engineering and Marketing. He chose Collingwood, because that was where he wanted to live. He was going to work where he wanted to live. I remember those early years of the business, the Telex machine ticking away in the mudroom as a message came through from South Africa or some other far away land I’d never been to. Dinner delays because Dad was on the phone to someone several time zones away. Always working, though he claims to never have worked a day in his life, because work was something you did that you didn’t like.
He’s been known to call his sales team at 5 p.m. on the Friday of a long weekend. Not to check up on them, but to continue a discussion that he had begun at a lunch meeting. The sales team always in awe at his ability to hold topic for an entire meal. This work ethic served him well as he put together a team that would fulfill his entrepreneurial vision.
I have always been aware of the trials and tribulations and of course triumphs as the company grew to become THE leader in innovative designs; taking risks many were not willing to take. Dad has the contagious enthusiasm of an entrepreneur, a sense of being able to achieve what may seemingly be impossible with no fear or mind to failure and no cause or need for blame, only the opportunity to learn and the resolve to move forward.
The first MEMCO prototype was built in 1974 and the company continues to provide an alternative approach to unique solutions. He took his role as employer very seriously. He knows all of his employees by name. A relatively easy task with a work force of 20, but increasingly more admirable as MacLean’s became a global company employing some 500 employees.
Somewhere along the way Ducky became Don.
An orator by nature, his State of the Union style addresses would rival Obama in substance and length. These speeches were complete with market indicators, sales opportunities, perceived constraints, global market info, sales strategies, and orders. No matter the market trend, Dad always prompted to spend with caution because nothing is for certain. Remember the hoarding candy?
In 1996, MacLean Engineering was forging ahead as leaders in secondary breaking when an opportunity in South Africa presented itself. This opportunity was associated with immense risk, at a time when MacLean Engineering could ill afford a failure. Don, always a believer in his employees abilities, and keenly aware of the potential that a technical success would provide for the global position of the company, jumped at the opportunity. To this day, the company is still benefiting from those risky, but market focused decisions.
In the early years of his career, my father led the movement to remove tracked equipment from underground with the introduction of diesel powered load, haul and dump equipment. This movement led to the elimination, or at least limited the existence, of electric powered locomotives. Today, he has come full circle. My father now leads the charge at MacLean Engineering to redefine their equipment in the new era of battery electric drives for all of their mobile equipment product line. Still, in his 80th year, pulling in to the plant with pep in his step and excitement to see what’s next.
Though I didn’t grow up to take a spot at the board table, Don became Dad, and I proudly carry the legacy of the name. In the words of Jim Croce, I got a name, being named the third Dawn (Don) MacLean. I now invite you all to hear from Donny, Ducky, Dad, Don MacLean.