Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Bill MacKinnon would agree, Bill was an industry legend. As many did, I called him Mr. Mac.
Meeting Bill and Lois in person for the first time was something special, something I will never forget. It was our first Ontario Trucking Association Convention at the Regal Constellation Hotel on Airport Road in Mississauga in the early 90’s, attended by 100’s, all the who’s who of trucking industry. Back then, the OTA Thursday night reception was assigned seating and new members were seated with existing members, I had seen Mr. Mac in the truck mags, everyone knew MacKinnon Transport and everyone knew who Bill MacKinnon was. There we were, my lovely bride Lisa and I heading towards our table and there was Bill and his beautiful wife Lois. The little round man with a Colgate smile, shook my hand introduced himself and his partner. It was then we received our first taste of Mr Mac’s humor.
He turned his attention to Lisa and quickly asked her what she was doing up in her room before she came down? Lisa nor I did not know where he was going with the question. Lisa said she was getting ready to come down and Mr. Mac said “well you must of been having fun because you only have one earring on” followed by the famous belly laugh. Lisa checked both her ears to find both earrings in place. I’m sure Lois had heard this line many times and laughed along telling Lisa “meet my Bill”.
That was start of our friendship, one that has lasted decades. We started doing business with MacKinnon, developed a friendship and have met the entire family along the way. Over the years Bill and I had some really cool experiences together. I was the benefactor of watching him work his sales magic, watching him at the board room table, interacting with his staff, his leadership team, government, and competition. I learned so much from him, like many I always enjoyed being around Bill.
He taught me many things, I’m sure not even knowing at times he was sharing his gift. Bill was consistent, what sticks in my mind he was the same with everyone, he was himself, no changing things up because of who was talking to or what he was doing. From our trip to Salamanca New York to retrieve a truck (and pick up smokes) that has been kidnapped and held hostage to the sales education he gave me with Georgia Pacific management to the many practical jokes he played on me and others.
We should be thankful and feel so lucky and fortunate that he was part of our lives. Bill made you smile and made a difference to so many. Bill MacKinnon was a leader, a mentor, he was a family man, a friend, a competitor, devoted to his craft and his community, he touched many lives in such a positive fashion including mine. Something he told me and I will never forget after watching him in action with an industry leader – Your ability to lead is only as good as your ability to influence.
Bill will be missed but never forgotten, R.I.P. Mr. Mac we will see you on the other side. I look forward to sharing your ashtray.