James MacDonald

James MacDonald of Revelstoke, B.C., is one of the community’s most effective fundraisers

Close-up of a young, bald man in front of an A&W root beer sign.

James MacDonald is the manager of A&W Restaurant in Revelstoke, B.C. — Photo courtesy James MacDonald

During the past five years, James MacDonald has fallen in love with Revelstoke, B.C., where he manages the A&W restaurant. It seems he’s loved right back. MacDonald's name came up as a clear choice for our 17th annual list of Top 10 Kootenay Business People.

Leveraging his ability to give

MacDonald has spent time in other, more traditional corporate jobs, but he prefers work that allows him plenty of personal contact and community involvement. He enjoys his staff and customers and he’s excited by A&W’s policy of dedicating one per cent of its gross sales to community initiatives.

“This allows me to give back to my community in a much bigger way than I could do as an individual,” said MacDonald. “I’m a cancer survivor, and I realize the value of being part of something and caring about what’s important.”

Summer is the busy season for Revelstoke’s A&W, and MacDonald finds the dramatic winter slowdown in business to be a big challenge, especially in terms of giving the full-time staff enough hours to ensure a decent paycheque.

This winter, the A&W in Vernon, B.C., is paying part of MacDonald's salary because he’s helping to cover for a maternity leave there, freeing up some of the payroll budget in Revelstoke. Though it means at least one weekly round trip to Vernon, MacDonald is happy to capitalize on the temporary situation.

Giving comes full circle

Outside of work, MacDonald loves mountain biking, hiking and camping. He is also a dedicated volunteer firefighter.

“The training that I got with the volunteer firefighters has been mind-blowing,” he said, “and the sense of brotherhood among the guys is so strong. I thought I’d be giving back to my community by volunteering here, but I feel I’ve received more than I’ve given.”

MacDonald also enjoys reading. Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things that Matter, by Hal Urban, is a book that he recommends. He said he believes in reading books and articles written by local people, too—material about his own part of the world that suggests where he can make a difference and become more a part of his community.

A passion for helping others

Because of staffing issues a few years back, MacDonald has a new venture planned for 2014. In the course of hiring temporary foreign workers, he discovered he has a passion for helping these immigrants to Canada. He has had some training and will take exams in February to become an immigration consultant.

“I plan to do that as a business along with keeping my position at A&W,” he said. “That way I can still be involved in the community and continue to serve its needs.”

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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