Mark Stairs

Vice President of Engineering - Craig Manufacturing
Class of 1992 - Civil & Structural Engineering Technology

Mark Stairs

Established in 1947, Craig Manufacturing Ltd. develops and manufactures attachments for heavy equipment. Chances are, if you drive by a construction site and see a wheel loader or an excavator, the buckets on those machines likely come from Craig Manufacturing.  In those cold, snowy New Brunswick winters, the plow that clears snow is probably a Craig Manufacturing product. 

Craig Manufacturing has four branches, three in Canada and one based in the United States.  Mark Stairs (Civil Structural Engineering Technology '92) is the Vice President of Engineering with Craig Manufacturing Ltd. 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Woodstock. I would have ridden my bike past the NBCC campus to go swimming at the pool that was behind the NBCC building. 

Why did you choose NBCC?

My story may be a little different. The reason I initially went to NBCC was to get my marks up, so I enrolled in "Pre-Technology" at the Woodstock campus. Before my time at NBCC, I didn't have a strong interest in school, so obtaining better marks was my first task.  At the time, I was working at an Irving Gas Station, changing oil and things like that. I wanted to get out of my parent's house and considered doing mechanics. Then I thought I would try Architectural because NBCC was offering that as a second-year option.  So I started down that road – I took the generic first year as everyone does, and the ultimate goal was to use the pathway of completing two years at NBCC before going on to a University.  Then I learned that some Universities wouldn't accept the architectural credits, so I switched and went into NBCC's Civil and Structural Engineering program at the Moncton Campus

You completed your Civil Structural Engineering Technology Program. What was next?

Upon completing my Structural Engineering program (C.E.T.) I was hired right out of school by a firm called Valron Engineers Inc. in Moncton.  I think it was based more on my personality than my marks – I did well but wasn't top of the class. At Valron Engineers Inc., I worked in the steel detailing of many of the New Brunswick overpasses.

From there, I took a position with Valley Machine Works Ltd. in Nackawic, where I designed lumber mill equipment. After three years, I left Valley Machine Works to pursue a job at Craig Manufacturing Ltd in Hartland. As you can imagine, the position I accepted was in the Engineering Department, but after one year, I took a job in the Sales Department which later led to the promotion of Sales Supervisor. The role of Engineering Supervisor became available, so I took on that position in addition to Sales Supervisor.  Eventually, I chose to make engineering my sole focus and worked my way up from Supervisor to Director and finally to Vice President of Engineering.

As V.P. of Engineering, I have professional engineers work for me, and that's probably not typical; a C.E.T. leading engineer, but I've worked hard to get here.  I guess the lesson is:  work hard and people will notice you

What is your biggest responsibility with Craig Manufacturing? How long have you worked there?

Major projects are my bailiwick.

I tend to get large projects and work with my direct reports to ensure those are moving along smoothly.  I'm not too fond of the term "Project Management," but I guess that is what you would call a lot of what I do.  People like to own the term "Project Management"; I simply call it working with people and developing others. 

I'm in my 25th year with Craig Manufacturing.

Tell us about your time at NBCC. Any memorable stories?

On my first day, one of my instructors tossed a textbook on the table and said, "you have a test in four weeks – get to work."  Many students complained, but a few of us met the task head-on.  It was a tough textbook to get through, but those of us who soldiered through it we were well prepared. 

That experience taught me that with most things in life, especially in Engineering, the answers are somewhere in a book.  You need to get in there and dig it out. You're not going to have someone to teach you the rest of your life, so you need to take the initiative and seek out that information.  That was a very memorable lesson. 

I also remember working 5-6 hours a night, and it was tough. I believe that if you make it through that course, you are very hireable.  Of the NBCC graduates here at Craig Manufacturing, they all have a healthy amount of stick-to-it attitude.

Any other advice? Why did college work for you?

NBCC made me hireable – it put me in a spot where I had to be hard-working, or I wouldn't have made it. That's a testament to the curriculum and how much you learn at NBCC; it provides the tools required to succeed. My advice would be when you're in an interview, don't be afraid to talk about how challenging your education was and how hard you worked to obtain it.  It proved to me that people hiring an NBCC graduate are hiring a quality employee.

I'm very happy with my accomplishments, and my professional journey shows what you can achieve with a two-year NBCC program.