A Legacy Built And A Legacy Continued
Growing up, I was your typical kid who idolized his father. My father was my hero, I looked up to him and wanted to be just like him when I grew up. “
The thing that attracted me the most to my father was the cool equipment he operated. There were tractors, gators, pipe pullers, trenchers, and even excavators. However, my favorite machine of all was his Ditch Witch 5020. Whenever my family visited him at a golf course, I couldn’t get to that 5020 fast enough. I would pull on my ear muffs and then climb up on the backhoe seat while my father pulled the pipe in from the driver’s seat. I loved it. I had hours of training on this machine before the age of 8. When the equipment was parked, I would spend hours playing on it, practicing, understanding the controls and ensuring that when the time came for me to operate the machines, I would be ready.
The very first installation I ever did with my father was at our home in Strathroy. I was only 3 years old. My grandfather had purchased a small gardening shovel that was just my size for me to help the two of them. From this moment on I would always look to accompany my father or grandfather to weekend calls. That little shovel found a home in my grandfather’s work van as he knew I would be joining him every Saturday.
When I was 8 years old, my father signed a golf course installation in Durham at Homewood Golf Resort. The greatest thing about this job was they had lake cottages where he could stay which allowed our family to come up and be with him. I am sure my father hadn’t expected me to be glued to his side for the duration of the installation. I wanted a job, I wanted to help, and most of all I wanted to do whatever I could to work with him. Finally, he gave me the job of feeding the wire into the machine. I was in my glory walking behind the machine pulling wire off the reels and feeding it into the machine. I spent the summer feeding wire, driving around on the gator, and towing the pipe lengths to start our next pull by day. Then I went fishing with my father, mother, and brother at night. It was a fantastic summer.
The summer I turned 12, my father signed two 9 hole golf installation to complete. Once again I was right there begging to join him. Finally, I convinced him to take me along. In July we installed a golf course in Bancroft. I resumed my position of feeding wire into the machine but slowly was able to jump in and take over the second man position. This involved prying and pushing the pipe into the fittings at the hole as my father was gluing. When the time came to complete the second Golf Course in August, my father left his second man at home. It was just the two of us the entire month installing Owenbrook Golf Course. This was the best summer from my childhood. My father and I would spend the day working on the installation. Afterward, my brother and I would go golfing, followed by fishing at the cottage after dinner. My father had high expectations of me. He hadn’t brought any extra help. This meant I had to keep up with him all day. However, I can proudly say I did it. It may have been hard physically but I learned so much from my father. Not just the practical learning, he taught me how to be passionate for this business. From that summer, I was hooked, Blue Jay was going to be my future career path.
Every summer afterwards, until I could drive, my father scheduled me with my grandfather on his service van. He did this knowing my grandfather would be the best teacher for me. This is where I learned the technical side of our business but more importantly, I gained a strong work ethic. Some of the coolest experiences I had at Blue Jay were the times my father, grandfather and I would climb into a van and solve some difficult problem or installation together. There aren’t many people who can say they have worked alongside their father and grandfather. I am truly blessed to be one of those people.
Over the last six years, my father and I have progressed from just a father and son relationship to being partners,to finally becoming best friends. my father has given me the opportunity to pursue my passion at Blue Jay through partnership. The process of me taking on more leadership and ownership in the business transformed our relationship into an amazing friendship. He continued to use the experience he gained through building Blue Jay to coach and mentor me.
When my father first started out in 1982 as Blue Jay Lawn Care, I do not believe he would have ever dreamed where Blue Jay would be today.
In 1984 he went to a landscape Ontario show. There in the back corner was a small Toro booth advertising irrigation. He thought irrigation was a neat idea so he decided to try installing a system at his parent’s house. Later that month my grandmother came home, opened the garage door to find a wall of pipe. She instantly knew Bruce had gotten himself into something new.
In 1986 my father incorporated as Blue Jay Sprinkler Systems Inc. He dropped the landscape and lawn care and became strictly an irrigation company. My father was never one to back down from a challenge. I loved hearing the stories of his first golf install in the early 90’s. This involved him and his salesmen Joe Carter walking the parking lot of the golf course through skids upon skids of pipe stacked sky high. Joe looked at him and said, “I sure hope you know what you are doing”! I also enjoyed hearing how he took his tractor with the snow blower on it to a golf job. He proceeded to blow a foot of snow off the fairway just so he could continue to install the system.
My father had many challenges over the years including the golf downturn and the 2008 recession. My father worked his way through those challenges and grew Blue Jay to be an industry-leading business. Blue Jay was built on the core values of Customers First, Humbly Confident, Integrity, Reputation and Persistence.
My father continued to love golf installations and would take on a new course from time to time. Over the last couple years including this past summer, we enjoyed using these installations as a way to get out and enjoy some manual labour together. It provided us an opportunity to reminisce about the past where we had completed full installs together but also proved to be the tipping point where our roles reversed. I was beginning to assume his role and he began to take on mine. This Fall I was able to complete his golf course run for winterizing’s. It was a trip down memory lane, getting to see all the courses I had installed with my father again.
Blue Jay was built on customer service. My father cared about his customers and wanted to make sure they always received world class service. He understood that he needed to have a team of people who shared similar values and cared about the customer experience just as much as he did.
My father spent the last 36 years building Blue Jay’s reputation on great customer service. As Blue Jay moves forward, I promise to continue this commitment to our Customers. We have an amazing team here at Blue Jay who shared Bruce’s vision and we will continue to carry on his Legacy.
We had planned for this eventual transition, however, it has come earlier than we expected. Bruce has passed on his passion, knowledge, and love for his customers onto us. It is now our time to carry Blue Jay forward.
Thank you to our customers for making Blue Jay what it is. You have had just as much impact on this company as my dad has.
Blue Jay Irrigation
Always In Our Thoughts
If you pass one of our trucks, you may notice we have added a logo. We wanted to honour Bruce and his legacy by having a logo that reminded us of him every day. Bruce had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, he believed in what John 3:16 says, and as a family we believe he is in Heaven. This Logo encompasses everything Bruce was, and we hope it encourages you as much as it does us.