Holmes is where the heart is…

Big Story- Holmes is where the heart is
Rebecca Steckham

The set of hit television show, Holmes Inspection, can be a chaotic place. The home is full of drilling, hammering and discussions of building plans. But amongst the construction there is a father who smiles watching his children grow as his family and as his employees.
Mike Holmes, 49, has successfully founded a business phenomenon in the construction industry over the past decade. While the company was growing, his three children: Michael, 22, Sherry, 24, and Amanda, 26, were offered the opportunity to work one summer and the family business was born.
“I believe in having a business that the whole business is our family…that everyone gets treated like we’re related,” Mike Holmes said. “Having my kids here is just an extra added bonus.”
Mike Holmes Jr. learned that he shares his father’s passion for helping people when he started working construction at 15.
“We do change peoples lives,” Mike Holmes Jr. said. “(My dad) isn’t just saying it, he believes it…that’s why the company is a success. And that’s why I do it too.”
“We’re all very dedicated in what we do,” his sister, Amanda Holmes, said.
Mike Holmes has expectations of his children, not only as their father, but as their boss. He expects a good performance and attitude of his employees, and for his family to be respectful and make good decisions. The children also feel the weight of being “the boss’s kid”.
“There’s the stigma of being the boss’s child, it’s just something you can’t shake,” Amanda Holmes said. “You have to work harder to be respected.”
“A lot is expected of me because I’m Mike’s kid,” Mike Holmes Jr. said. “When people see me they expect me to know a lot as well and fill his shoes a bit…and I’m doing the best I can at that. It’s pretty nerve-racking sometimes.”
Mike Holmes says that one of the hardest issues is maintaining a balanced system within the company between co-workers and his children, but he believes he has accomplished that.
Mike Holmes says mistakes are allowed on set, but the rule is that no mistake is made twice, and his children do not receive any preferential treatment. On a past roofing job in L.A., Mike Holmes asked his crew to not touch the structure until he returned to lead the construction. At the time, the crew lacked experience with pitching frames for roofs, which is why Mike Holmes felt that he needed to be present. Without his consent, the crew finished the frames improperly, and what was a planned surprise ended up being a costly mistake.
“They’re all employees and I’m not going to treat anyone different and I think that’s why my kids respect me,” Mike Holmes said.
“We’re all treated as a team,” Mike Holmes Jr. said, “When I was younger I established that I didn’t want to be treated different than anyone else otherwise I wouldn’t be able to gain anyone’s respect. (It’s) frustrating sometimes but it’s good.”
Carl Pavlovic, 38, is another member of Mike Holmes’s contracting crew and has been working alongside Mike Holmes and his children since 2005.
“I find myself being with people that actually care about me,” Pavlovic said. “We’re learning together…their whole family always encourages me (and) always accepted me. I don’t ever feel out of place here.”
Mike Holmes has the rare joy of feeling pride in his children as a father and as their boss. Mike Holmes Jr., recalls a moment when he said he entered his father’s office to kindly ask for a raise.
“I basically told him…I’m not here to get a raise because I’m your son, I’m here to get a raise because I deserve one,” Mike Holmes Jr. said.
His father’s reaction was positive.
“I had a frog in my throat and that’s when I realized my son was becoming an adult and that he loves doing it,” Mike Holmes said. “It showed me that I have a smart son, I have a good son and I have a son that is proud of his dad and is working hard. Where’s a negative there?”
Mike Holmes and his three children both say, there are moments when they bump heads like any family, but the importance lies in their dedication to the business and their love for one another. It is these elements that have created an incredible and infamous business that Mike Holmes says he hopes his children will one day take over.
“They are going to have to stick together and follow their father’s dreams and add to their father’s dreams of this corporation,” Pavlovic said. “I want to see them grow in the company.”
Regardless of future plans, mistakes, arguments and expectations, Mike Holmes says there is one thing that will always remain true for the family business he created.
“No matter what I’m dad and there’s no changing that,” Mike Holmes said.
–the end–

By: Rebecca Steckham
Published: The Toronto Observer online edition
Centennial College Journalism 2013


Jobs Issue


Currently working on a few articles for the Courier – my College’s school newspaper. Later this month they are releasing a “Jobs Issue” and I’ve been asked to write a few pieces!

One article on prepping for job interviews and the differences for different fields with a sidebar interview with the organizer of Eco Depot.

The second article on joining the military and what that really means.

…should be posted in early December.

Tony Lee – X-rated Hypnotist

Hypnotist says it’s all about leading participants
He can lead people to believe that they are driving a Ferrari down an open highway when there is no car in sight and guide a grown man to kiss another man’s butt cheek in front of hundreds of strangers. He has been performing at Centennial College since 1993. He has been trained as a MMA professional athlete and his one and only win included a one minute and 15 second technical knockout. 2 He is Tony Lee, a hypnotist, best known for his incredibly memorable and X-rated comedic performances.

After over 6,000 performances, Lee is undoubtedly one of the most talked about hypnotists in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. In Canada alone, he has been awarded 32 official Canadian Campus Awards and nominations for his shows at campuses like Centennial’s. But even with all this success behind him, hypnosis was not exactly a planned career path.

“One night I sat down with my girlfriend and I said to her ‘Let me try to hypnotize you’…and I went ‘You’re getting sleepy,’” Lee said. “And a couple minutes later she fell over…so I started experimenting.”

Shortly after that moment, Lee started putting on his own shows and even joined a therapeutic hypnosis society after discovering there was a lack of material available. From there, he continued experimenting with relaxation techniques until he made the decision to tour.

“I want to go out and tour Canada and see the rest of Canada before I get a real job,” Lee says. “I had no idea that it would snowball into something unprecedented…to date, we have sold out more shows than any Canadian artist has in history.”

Off stage, Lee found use for his talent while training as a MMA fighter as it would help him with the mental aspect of fighting. He utilized his power of self-hypnosis for himself, which, he says, is all hypnosis really is.

“All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotist is just the guide. People have this misconception that the hypnotist hypnotizes the people,” Lee explains. “He’s basically the conductor that leads you down the path, puts up the proper barriers to make it happen.”

Lee can relate to any non-believers as he used to be one. To explain further, he uses the example of being in a room when someone starts to yawn and you can’t help but to yawn.

“Think if the same principle, and think of replacing the yawning suggestion with a verbal suggestion in a relaxed state of mind that association becomes very strong,” Lee said “They are aware…but it’s a daydream state.”

And if you’re still a non-believer, his infamous hypnotist show will be taking place on Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. at Progress Campus and any students can see for themselves.

By: Rebecca Steckham
Published: The Centennial College Courier Thursday November 24, 2011/Vol.17, No. 6
Centennial College Journalism 2013

Remember the Fallen

Commanding officer appreciates a job well done
Veteran, George McKiel believes perfection is important. It’s in the perfect command. It’s in the perfectly executed manoeuvre. He watches closely as the rifles are raised and the heads are bowed during the ceremony. But nothing is sweeter than the sound of perfection.
“If they do it properly, all you hear is ‘click’… and that will be all four (sets) of feet … hitting the ground at the same time,” McKiel said.
For the past 19 years, George McKiel, 82, has served as a commanding officer of the colour guard for the Todmorden Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. This year, as every other, he demands perfection from his personnel during the annual East York Remembrance Day service. He’ll watch and listen closely for perfection as his four flag-bearers march up to the cenotaph during the service.
“Oh, it does sound good…Yes it does,” he said.
McKiel expects between 1,000 and 2,000 people to attend the East York observance. He said everyone appreciates a job well done, whether it’s the perfect command or the perfect execution of that command, even if it’s just a rehearsal.
“Last night (during the colour guard practice), I gave them a little blast,” McKiel said. “When they put on the colours … I heard ‘click, click, click’… (not in unison). I didn’t like that at all.”
McKiel strives for perfection because, he said, after 16 years in the service, there’s a grave responsibility that comes with authority in war; there’s no room for mistakes.
“You’ve got all these people doing what you want them to do in a split second, which is what you would have if you were on a firing line,” McKiel said. “You wouldn’t want to be history would you?”
The East York Remembrance Day service takes place on Nov. 11 at the Civic Centre.

By: Rebecca Steckham
Published: Nov. 11, 2011 – The Toronto Observer: East York
JO-211 News Reporting
Centennial College: Journalism 2012

Art Exhibit at Centennial College

Grad returns to CCC with show
At the Centre for Creative Communications (CCC), THe Corridor Gallery is currently featuring a Centennial graduate’s art collection titled, The Movement Meets You Halfway.
Graduating from the Fine Arts Studio program in 2010, Sara Shields, 21, is the first graduate to have a solo exhibit at the college. Her path leading up to this proud moment, while not always easy has definitely been a rewarding one. She remembers a moment in figure drawing class when she realized her creative success would be found outside the box.
“I always thought it had to be realistic,” Shields said. “A couple months before my last semester I was like, ‘Screw this, I’m going to draw how I want to draw.'”
Her professor’s reaction to her independent approach was encouraging and it sparked something in Shields that pushed her to establish her own artistic style that she now knows is integral to an artist’s success.
“Always think outside the box, because you should never compare your stuff to other people…everyone is so different,” Shields said. “I definitely regret waiting until a couple months before graduation to express my own style…I think everyone should be doing that.”

No history class could teach this…

Most history classes back in school I spent with my mouth gaping open catching flies…having a bunch of names, dates and places thrown at you is like throwing uncooked pasta at the wall – it just doesn’t stick. Sorry Mr. Coates.

A week or so ago my news reporting prof assigned us a story that we had to complete for Remembrance Day. He left it pretty open-ended – we could do a story on a veteran, on a memorial service…anything really. My reaction to this assignment in retrospect was pretty poor…probably an eye roll, maybe even a scoff…probably a similar reaction to when I had to do a story on the provincial election. scoff. Politics, history, technology and business…four massive areas of journalism that I’d like to stay away from like the way I stay away from peanut butter. FAR.

So after procrastinating until Nov. 3 (with the due date on the near horizon) I decided it was probably time to move forward with the project. It was suggested to go down to the local Canadian Legion near our college…so I did. My first reaction, again, was fairly poor. The smell reminded me of a hospital blended with a nursing home – two places that I’ve learnt to avoid after having to spend extensive amounts of time there (my mom’s a cardiologist and my grandpa lived in a nursing home). Regardless, we (myself and my classmate Jacko) entered the main hall in search of some veterans and to our dismay found the place fairly empty.

I greeted the first woman I saw and kindly asked where we could find some veterans willing to talk to some students about Remembrance Day. She smiled and cocked her head to the right and said “There’s one right there.”

His name is George McKiel (never to be spelt McKeel…his father hated that). He was sitting there with a poppy drive box in front of him, dressed in a fire-engine red jacket which I later learnt was a Colour Guard coat. He is undoubtedly one of the most incredible people that I have ever met in my life to date.

The first day we only spent an hour there (had to rush back for class) – but even in just that time frame I could tell he was an amazing story-teller…it’s like every sentence he formed was so eloquent – I could have quoted every phrase. He invited us to come back the next day and politely asked if Jacko and I “take a drink”. I smiled at his gentleman charm and I nodded my head yes.

The next day I went back to the Legion and I couldn’t believe how excited I felt to go sit and talk with McKiel again. After watching my grandparents deteriorate in front of my eyes as a child I guess I tried to push people that were elderly away from me so that it wouldn’t hurt so much when they were gone. But this one man changed my perspective entirely..and unfortunately it’s their generation that people my generation feel that they can take advantage of without even bothering to acknowledge what they may have done or gone through in their lifetime. Like for all the kids that have been stealing poppy drive boxes from the veterans on the street – how dare you? It takes a sick and very sad person to steal from a veteran – someone who in some way has probably impacted your life in a positive way whether you like it or not. And as I type I can feel my face begin to burn but I relish the fact that “what goes around comes around” and they will certainly get theirs. Karma always serves its purpose. ANYWAY I’ve always felt that veterans should be respected and honoured for what they did for our country and what they fought for. I’ve always worn a poppy every November month and as long as I’ve been at school I’ve taken those infamous two minutes of silence. But no matter what there isn’t a place even in our imagination that could understand what the veterans (or any servicemen/women went through…but talking with McKiel these past few days I know is as close as I’ll ever get.

After finishing up his second game of cribbage I turned on my recorder eager to learn more about him. (And I swear, no matter how many times he explained that game to me I still couldn’t understand it…but all I know is that he’s very good at it). He shared stories from the war (Royal Canadian Engineers), about his travels (BC, Germany, Egypt) and about his wife (that had just passed) and his children (whom he was extremely proud of). I couldn’t help but be so mesmerized by him. He was fearless…and at 82 years old he had not skipped a beat even after spending 16 years in the service and earning 15 service medals. He had been with the Legion since 1975, and he was a life member at Branch #10, like his wife, Claire. I can only imagine how wonderful she was from the way he described her. He would tell me again and again that he was happy with his life, that he has everything…and the only thing missing in his life was his wife. And every time he said it, and every time I type it I tear up over and over thinking it must have been one of those kinds of loves they talk about only in fairytales – a “great love.”

It was so evident from the people surrounding him at the Legion that he was beyond well-loved…I was talking to a person that was so appreciated and supported, everyone wanted me to know it. He supports his community through his work at the Legion: selling poppies, running bingo nights, driving his neighbours around that were unable, and of course being a Colour Guard. A responsibility that he not only took seriously but one that he was so proud of. Even though McKiel no longer marches in the parade he takes great pride in instructing his 2CI (second in command) orders to relay to the personnel. He wanted it just perfect – comparing a perfect command in parade to one back in the war – it had to be done right…there were no other options.

I lost track of time talking to him – a feat that I don’t think I’ve experienced in quite some time – and over three hours had passed. With more than enough to write for my story (that will be published in the East York Observer) I took some of his photos and he walked me to my car. Chivalry…there’s nothing like it. He thanked me and I thanked him back – knowing that just saying the words would never explain to him how much he touched my life. But part of me can only hope that maybe talking to me for so long touched his life in some way too. And with a kiss on the cheek and a handshake that was it…and hours later I know that even though this assignment will soon be sent to print and I technically never need to see George McKiel again – I know that I want to.