Interview With Donald Ian McCaw
Excerpted from the transcribed recording of an unpublished interview with the Brampton Business Register (March 9, 2011)
I saw your paintings on-line and I have to say – they’re very nice!
Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say. Thank you.
They’re different, eh?
Different from what?
I don’t know…what do you call that – modern art, I guess?
I suppose you could call it that, sure.
Well, I really like modern art and I really like your art. You’re very talented.
Oh no, it’s not me. I don’t paint them. We have a production centre right here in Brampton where our employees do the actual painting.
Yes. It’s my company, and I’m ultimately responsible for everything we produce, but…you know, just like the president of Chrysler doesn’t actually build the cars here in Brampton, I don’t actually paint the paintings.
Not to me it isn’t, but…I suppose it’s just a different way of getting to the end result. Perhaps different than you’re used to.
So I guess you have some talented people working for you.
I sure hope not! Talented people are high maintenance. They cost a lot to keep around and they’re hard to replace when they leave. If you want a highly responsive, scalable business you build it on unskilled labour. You want ‘plug and play’ inputs at every stage in the value chain and people are no different.
‘Plug and play’?
You know – one piece breaks down and you just swap in an identical replacement with minimal disruption. People should be no different. At Mba Fabrications that means every task in the production process is designed to be executable by at least 90% of the population with no prior training.
When I was young I worked for a company whose slogan was “achieving extraordinary results with ordinary people” or something like that. I remember that someone scrawled under the sign in the break room “making lots of money with shitty employees”. I was inspired by that idea. I know you probably can’t use that in your article (laughs) but it kind of gets at where I’m coming from.
So, let me see…why locate your studio in Brampton?
I chose the Brampton location because it was close to my home, which is ironic because I actually spend very little time there. I’m mainly travelling and networking. And by the way – I don’t like the word studio. It has bad connotations for me. We may be making art at the Brampton Production Site but you won’t find any artists on the premises.
Would you describe Brampton as a sophisticated, cosmopolitan business environment?
We have a population of half a million but we don’t have a McCafe yet, so I’d say ‘sophisticated’ might be a stretch at this point. But cosmopolitan – yeah, depending on how you define it, sure.