Jobs of the Future: MacWhirters return to their roots with McDonalds franchise in North Bay and Sturgeon Falls

“We want to show the community that we are here with them. We don’t want to be a faceless, nameless company that just wants its business, we want to be an active part of the community’

“McDonald’s has been a part of my life since the beginning,” says Colin MacWhirter.

“My dad was the store manager until I was eight years old and that’s when I developed a great passion for the industry because I would come to the restaurant and all the managers and the team flattered me. because I’m the store manager as a child plus I had all the toys and so at eight years old it was the best job a parent could have.

MacWhirter is the owner and operator of the McDonald’s group of restaurants with three in North Bay, on McKeown Avenue, Lakeshore Drive and inside WalMart at Northgate Mall, as well as the Sturgeon Falls location.

He took over those stores in December 2019 after spending 20 years in the tech industry as a consultant, working in Canada and the United States.

“I have a friend who owns a McDonald’s franchise in Windsor and I told him I was looking for something different and he showed me what he was doing running his restaurant,” MacWhirter says.

“Something during this tour clicked and I thought ‘this is exactly what I’m supposed to do.

MacWhirter didn’t just have fond memories of visiting McDonald’s as a kid, as his first job was at a McDonald’s restaurant.

“I started when I was 14,” he says.

“I spent seven years there in a store first in Brockville, then in Kingston, where I worked my way up to manager. I truly believed that this experience helped me with my longer term career and what I was able to accomplish.

MacWhirter went to St. Lawrence College in Kingston and earned a degree in business administration and information systems and says he was willing to pursue that because of what he learned working at McDonald’s.

“The skill set, training and work ethic they teach you are critical to success and progress in your life. McDonald’s has a lot of different opportunities and so you always see how you can level up within the restaurant itself and it really comes down to perseverance,” he says.

“If you do the work and are successful, you can take it to the next level.”

MacWhirter’s next goal was to return to the restaurant where it all started after that visit with his acquaintance in Windsor.

“It’s a two-year process between submitting your application, accepting and rediscovering all the training and techniques. I then got a call from head office telling me that North Bay was available,” says MacWhirter.

As part of the planning to take over restaurants in North Bay and Sturgeon Falls, MacWhirter planned to bring his father back into the fold.

Dan MacWhirter started at McDonald’s in his early 20s and “16 years later I was General Manager of five stores with 700 employees,” says the elder MacWhirter who is now the Regional Marketing Specialist for North Bay/Sturgeon Falls .

“My responsibility is primarily to brand and nurture community relationships. I enjoy getting involved in the community and finding ways to help charities and organizations achieve their goals.

This was a high priority for Colin when he initially applied.

“The community engagement aspect was something that was really important to me. Going into a business like this, there are so many factors that you try to absorb at the start. With the role of Dan, it made me made it possible to establish this connection with the community about two years earlier than expected,” says Colin.

“Dan is very passionate about these initiatives.”

“The key is finding the right people and one of the first places I reached out was the folks at the North Bay Regional Health Center Foundation and One Kids Place,” says Dan.

“You have to know who the main people are who are helping to make things happen in your city and I think we found that in North Bay. We also like to partner with the Children’s Aid Society and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Since the MacWirters arrived in North Bay, they have been involved in more than a dozen community initiatives.

Not only did they continue the long-established Christmas toy drive (which collected nearly 1,300 toys last year), but they also set up the “100 Egg McMuffin Mission” where they donated Christmas toys. breakfast to frontline workers at the North Bay Regional Health Center and have since donated over 600 Egg McMuffins and coffees. They partnered with the local police department to provide treats and toys to children celebrating their birthday during the emergency COVID-19 lockdown. Additionally, they donated “You Deserve a Treat Coupons” to the hospital to distribute to children who had to take a COVID test.

Colin says that whenever they can reach out and do something to help the children, they will happily find a way to make it happen.

“It’s near and dear to our hearts and I just feel like kids should be kids and live their lives and have fun. When faced with illnesses or situations kids don’t shouldn’t face, we want to improve those situations for them.

Colin continues: “We want to show the community that we are here with them. We don’t want to be a faceless, nameless company that only wants its business, we want to be an active part of the community. »

Dan says, “It’s more important for a company to get involved in the community now than when I started. You get asked all the time for things like coupons for a minor sports team event or for organizations that are planning events. One of McDonald’s core mandates is to ensure that its franchises are active parts of the community and that its management personnel are involved in service clubs.

It’s not just the community outside the restaurant that the MacWhirters are trying to positively influence, but also the community of workers who steer the ship at all four stores.

“I try to support everyone here and if they have long term ambitions and goals, I want to know what I can do and how I can help them achieve those goals,” says Colin.

“I hope this is something where this employee will stay with me and build a long and successful career with us, but I also understand the logic that nothing is set in stone. So if we can help you with what those longer-term ambitions are, whether it’s school, other careers, personal life, we’ll do whatever we can to make that happen.

Dan adds, “It’s an opportunity to watch kids grow into young adults and succeed in whatever they want to pursue. We ask them “what do they want to do with the rest of their life” and try to find ways to help them develop these skills. »

And Colin says it’s something that has remained constant throughout his father’s tenure and his own career at McDonald’s.

“What hasn’t changed is the close-knit family mentality that people have here,” he says.

“Because it’s a very demanding job, people really have a mutual respect for each other. I find it helps to build relationships and so that’s the thing that has stayed the same, people are really dedicated to helping each other, and our goal is to make sure our people feel recognized and valued, especially after the past two years.”

Colin says that as technology advances, they will always be looking for ways to improve the customer experience.

“I have great faith in what McDonald’s does as a whole. They have partnered with a web development company to produce the app. When you walk into the restaurant, that’s where we want to impress you and give you the best possible experience where we can make you feel special,” he says.

“The next step or evolution with kiosks is to recognize license plates when you’re in the drive-thru. So if you sign up for the service, go through the drive-thru, and base it on the license plate, we would know what your typical order is and prepare it. We’re also looking for better ways to use your phone or app to pay for your purchase. I’ve always been impressed with what McDonald’s has done to try to push the boundaries of technology, and I think there’s a lot of cool stuff we can still work on.

Dan says it’s important to note, “We’re streamlining customer service without cutting jobs through technology upgrades, but I never see McDonald’s or any fast food joint for that matter being fully automated.”

Colin says the past two years have been tough with adjustments to accommodate COVID-19, but he says, “I’m so glad I did this. It’s the difference between finding something you want to do and just having to go to work. I found that the fact that I wanted it so badly is what got me through the last couple of years not wanting it anymore.

He says, “You feel so good about what you do and the community has been so great with us. So, in addition to working with all these great people, we will be able to move the company forward and be able to do even more great things in the future.

If you have a story idea for “Jobs of the Future”, email Matt at [email protected]

Lance B. Holton