Most of us take a job in high school to earn a little spending money or to contribute to a college fund. As a high school senior, Allan Cole took his first job working at Mackinnon & Bowes as a launching point for a career in funeral services. Now, with more than 40 years in his chosen profession, Cole, President and Owner of MacKinnon Bowes, LTD. in Toronto, has helped shape the funeral services industry in Canada. “I started at MacKinnon and Bowes in 1976 while still a high school student,” says Cole. “I have worked at MacKinnon & Bowes my entire adult life and have enjoyed a career and life experience that has exceeded my wildest expectations.”
After graduating high school, Cole earned his Diploma in Funeral Service Education from Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology and achieved Provincial Licensing in 1978. He has since worked to build his firm’s reputation as the largest and most trusted provider of assistance to the funeral service profession across Canada.
MacKinnon and Bowes supplies personnel, vehicles (including hearses and limousines), specialized services and expertise to funeral homes throughout Canada and the United States. “We provide telephone answering services specifically for funeral homes and cemeteries that serve more than 650 locations in Canada and the U.S.,” says Cole. “We are also the industry experts for government and institutional requirements such as coroners and police agencies, health departments, the Canadian Military and several other sectors.”
All in the Family
Cole describes his chosen career path as a sort of family calling. Cole’s grandfather operated a funeral home in Brantford, Ontario until his retirement in the ‘70s and Cole’s son, Alex, joined his father at MacKinnon Bowes a few years ago after attending Dalhousie University for Business and obtaining his funeral director’s license from Humber College.
Call of Duty
When the Canadian Military realized in the mid ’90s that it had terminated their Mortuary Affairs capability when they adopted a primary role as an International Peace Keeper, MacKinnon and Bowes was called to serve. “It became apparent that the government was ill-prepared to deal with the actual or potential reality of lives lost by Canadian Forces members serving abroad and in harm’s way,” says Cole. The Canadian Forces contacted MacKinnon & Bowes to secure their expertise as it related to international repatriation of deceased Canadian Forces members. “Since the mid-1990s, we have served as the Canadian Government’s go-to resource to address tragedies and loss of life. It has been a real honor to serve in this capacity.”
Setting Standards of Excellence
As a front-line service provider that looks after every aspect of repatriating Canada’s fallen uniformed heroes from every deployment since 1997, MacKinnon & Bowes has received numerous acknowledgements for setting standards of service as it relates to infectious disease and sanitary considerations, transportation and secure handling of remains on commercial airlines, and training and education of personnel in the mortuary profession. “MacKinnon & Bowes is Canada’s primary resource for international requirements associated with sending a deceased person to or from Canada,” says Cole.
The firm has racked up an extensive list of accolades over the years, receiving the 2013 Award of Merit for Outstanding Contributions for the Enhancement of the Canadian Funeral Profession by the Funeral Service Association of Canada. Cole himself was also bestowed an Honorary Degree from the Canadian Forces Staff College, Senior Officers Joint Command and Staff Program, and an Honorary Bachelor of
Applied Studies degree in Health Sciences from Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.
Taking Care of Business
The funeral services industry has grown and transformed since Cole started out, and he notes several challenges in running his business today. “Finding and retaining skilled personnel is always a challenge,” he says. “Navigating the complexity of operating a profitable business while maintaining compliance with all of the required dynamics of 2017 is also considerable.”
Sloan Partners has been helping MacKinnon and Bowes navigate those complexities since 2008. “We came to Sloan Partners for all of our accounting needs when our previous accountant retired,” states Cole. “Sloan Partners are accessible, responsive and well-rounded in identifying our needs and providing guidance. We have been delighted to work with Sloan for the comprehensive approach they bring to all of our accounting needs.”