CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - With more than five decades of business experience on the Island, Summerside’s Rita and Angus MacCormack say you need three things to succeed – know the business, lots of hard work and have the nerve to do it.
The most important is having the nerve to get into business for yourself, said Angus MacCormack.
The MacCormacks were announced on Thursday at a press conference as inductees into the 2018 Junior Achievement P.E.I. Business Hall of Fame. They enter in the category of Entrepreneurs in the P.E.I. Real Estate and Construction Industry.
“To have the nerve and go ahead and jump in with both feet and do it, that takes nerve,” said Angus MacCormack. “Either get better at it or go out.”
“Sink or swim, I guess,” added Rita MacCormack.
The couple, married for 57 years, moved from Ontario to St. Eleanors, P.E.I., in 1965. Angus MacCormack is originally from the Island.
“We started from the ground up. When we came down here and we had the five little children, my mother said, ‘Oh my Lord, Rita, come back home. You’ll starve to death down there. Well, we pretty nearly did, but we made it and it was all fun.”
They farmed, gathered Irish moss and sold door-to-door vegetables and potatoes they grew. The couple also operated MacCormack Fruit and Vegetable Centre in St. Eleanors and then became involved with a potato bag franchise and partnered with a company selling chemicals for potatoes.
They’ve also been involved with beef production with 100 head of cattle.
“We started from the ground up,” explained Rita MacCormack. “When we came down here and we had the five little children, my mother said, ‘Oh my Lord, Rita, come back home. You’ll starve to death down there. Well, we pretty nearly did, but we made it and it was all fun.”
The MacCormacks own and operate MacCormack Builders and Apartments Ltd. and MacCormack Hospitality, which involves two motels, 1,000 apartment units and more than 100 employees. The family, as a whole, works together in real estate development with the children having their own companies.
“You’ve got to love what you’re doing, actually love what you’re doing. If you like what you’re doing, you’ll be fairly successful, pretty successful. But if you love what you’re doing, you’re liable to be very, very successful. And, that’s just the difference,” said Angus MacCormack.
Also inducted at Thursday’s press conference were Jason Aspin and Michael F. Cassidy.
Aspin, who grew up on a farm in Eastern P.E.I., co-founded Aspin Kemp and Associates in 1996. He graduated from the Canadian Coast Guard College in 1987 with a marine engineering degree. Aspin, who was in Norway and could not attend Thursday’s press conference, was inducted in the Entrepreneur in the P.E.I. Technology and Marine Industries category.
Cassidy has taught in the business faculty in accounting and entrepreneurship at UPEI for 25 years. Over his business career, Cassidy has worked for a national oil company, co-owned and operated a mid-sized transportation company and owned consulting companies.
The 21st Hall of Fame induction gala is scheduled for May 23 at the Delta Prince Edward.
In terms of being inducted into the Business Hall of Fame, the MacCormacks agree it’s a great honour.
“You work all your life. You never expect to be selected on anything like this. So, it’s really nice,” said Angus MacCormack.