A long, long time ago in a land far, far away, there lived a boy named Jared. Ok, so it really wasn’t that long ago. And it was Canada. But there did in fact live a boy named Jared. He spent his winters haunting the runs of Whistler honing his skills on a board and, when the snow melted off, he spent his time riding a different kind of board down the street to his dad’s shop. This young skater kid was Jared MacKenzie, the boy who would become the man behind the curtain of mackenzie EXHIBIT.
Jared’s story has as many twists and turns as his runs down the slopes of his hometown mountain, and all of them are just as exciting. The directions that his wandering feet (and snowboard) took him in might make you surprised that he’s now the man running a successful international company, but in many ways, it was those unexpected detours that enabled him to find such success.
And So It Begins . . .
Jared’s father, Rick, started mackenzie EXHIBIT when Jared was a young boy. Back then, it was known as Pacific West Exhibit, or PWE for short. Starting around the time he was 12 years old, Jared would leave school, ride his board down to the skate park, and then head off to his dad’s exhibit design shop to work until around 11:00 pm each night. The shop was located in Yaletown, Vancouver — an area that is a complete hipster’s delight now, but back then it was anything but. At the end of the day as midnight approached, Jared would wrap up whatever he was doing at the shop and hitch a ride back home courtesy of one of the PWE guys and start it all again the next day. Little did he know it at the time, but Jared was building the blocks on which his entrepreneurial, hard-working spirit would one day sit.
Like many start-ups, PWE and the MacKenzie family faced more than their fair share of tribulations on the way to success. It took about five years for the company to really start to see the light, during which time the housing market went haywire, mortgage interest rates skyrocketed, and the MacKenzies had to make the difficult choice between their home and saving their company. Looking back, choosing the company was a wise decision, but they couldn’t know that for sure at the time.
One Ticket to Breckenridge, Please
Fast-forward to 16-year-old Jared. He had graduated from high school (a year early, no big deal). Snowboarding was life, the world was his delicious shucked Pacific oyster, and his fearless desire to pursue that uncharted fresh pow was driving him onward. He and a couple buddies had heard that Breckenridge, Colorado was the place to be for the snowboarding crowd, so at 17 Jared hopped on a Greyhound bus with two friends, seven snowboards, a stereo, and three fake IDs (don’t tell Rick). Jared had saved up $3,000 from working in a fly fishing shop over the summer, and with that money he and his buddies were able to snag a tiny studio apartment that the three of them would call home for the season. The guys rode every single day for the next six months, aside from the first few days after they arrived when altitude sickness set in. This was before cell phones, email, and certainly before we had Find My Phone for stalking where your family members were. The MacKenzies back in Canada had to rely on their snow-obsessed teenage son to phone home from a payphone or write them a letter, which we’re sure he did all the time and we’re sure they never worried about him at all.
The boys were known affectionately around town as “the Canadians” and spent every evening living off of 50 cent happy hour beer. After the dishwasher at their local haunt got arrested for stealing a tourist’s video camera, Jared stepped up to fill the role and used the money to keep him and his buddies running on beer and bar food. The proprietor of the establishment quickly became like family to the boys, and on the morning of Canadian Thanksgiving (yep, it’s different from American Thanksgiving), he showed up at the boys’ doorstep with bags full of groceries and took all three of them back to his home to celebrate the holiday. He made such an impression on Jared that, 20 years later, he tracked this Saint of Breckenridge down in Frisco, Colorado just to see how his was doing.
Eventually, the snow of Breckenridge started to melt and the boys missed the mountains of home. After six months, they headed back to Vancouver to enjoy their home slopes. Jared was pretty darn good — good enough to gain a few sponsors and ride the competitive circuit — but then a career-ending injury to his talus bone in his ankle would take him away from the sport he so loved. While this was disastrous for his snowboarding career, it helped to push Jared toward spending more time focused on mackenzie EXHIBIT.
The busy season for mackenzie EXHIBIT was usually during shoulder season (the awkward times between fall and winter and then between spring and summer when ski resorts twiddle their thumbs), so Jared would call upon his snow-happy friends who suddenly found themselves with some free time to help him with shows. Many of these friends earned their livings in the service industry, so they brought a very customer-centered focus to their time with mackenzie EXHIBIT, which helped to establish the exhibit company’s reputation as one of the best and most dedicated in the industry. With this, the “customer first” pillar of mackenzie EXHIBIT was born.
We’re Moving to . . . Ogden?
Then came the move to a small town with a weird name in a different country: Ogden, Utah. Let us help you connect those dots to how their now-hub came into existence. Ever since he was 16 years old, Jared would spend a month each year in Salt Lake City, Utah for Outdoor Retailer, the largest outdoor sports expo and conference. mackenzie EXHIBIT already had Suunto as a client at this point, and then they were asked to design the showroom for Salomon, Atomic, and Suunto. The parent company (Amer Sports) was so impressed that they decided to offer mackenzie EXHIBIT all of their trade show business for those three brands . . . if they opened up a location in Ogden, where Amer’s US headquarters were located.
Jared spent about 0.27 seconds considering this offer and said “deal.” Three months later, Jared, his wife Mimi, and their three-year-old daughter Ginger were living in Utah. It takes a special kind of relationship and a special kind of crazy to agree to your husband’s life-changing decision to sell your apartment and move your young family and all of your worldly belongings (packed into two exhibit shipment crates, of course) to a new city sight-unseen, but that’s exactly what Mimi did. They say that behind every great man is a great woman, and in this case I think we’d stretch Mimi’s “great” to extraordinary.
It was in this way that mackenzie EXHIBIT set up shop in Ogden with three employees (including Jared) and a huge international client to keep happy — no pressure. Even though his name was on the company letterhead, Jared pulled duty as designer, shipper, janitor — you name it, Jared did it in order to keep the ship sailing along smoothly. This complete and total understanding of the operations of mackenzie EXHIBIT makes Jared a one-of-a-kind leader who can put himself in the shoes of his employees because he’s been there, too. This gives him an appreciation for the work that everyone at his company does, which shows through in the commitment mackenzie EXHIBIT makes to each one of its personnel.
All Grown Up
In 2017, mackenzie EXHIBIT celebrated its 30th anniversary overall and its 10th anniversary in Ogden. They are now up to around 50 employees and have clients all over the world that keep them busy with trade shows throughout the year (with 60 shows in January alone). If you can’t find Jared at the office, chances are he’s driving his Porche 911 (an upgrade from his skateboard) through the gorgeous canyons that surround Ogden, hitting the links at the local golf course, or spending time with his beautiful family (which has grown by one since they first came to Utah, a son named Jack).
While Jared has found great success through mackenzie EXHIBIT, that doesn’t mean he’s resting on his laurels. What keeps him moving forward and excited to start each day is the opportunity to always strive to be better — a sentiment that sets true entrepreneurs apart from the herd. Take a stroll through the mackenzie EXHIBIT warehouse and you’ll see a forest of orange-colored exhibit shipper crates with the names of some of the most well-known and well-loved brands in the world.
Something tells us Jared and the team at mackenzie EXHIBIT are doing things right.
There’s always cool stuff going on here at mackenzie EXHIBIT, so stay tuned to the blog for more to come!