Ian Magill is a Master Electrician and team lead at our Calgary office. In Canada, it is rare to find an electrician with as much solar installation experience. SkyFire was lucky enough to hire Ian in the spring of 2019 and as a Master Electrician, Ian brings a wealth of experience, dedication and hard work to his installation projects. From working at -40 C on the Sundancer Project and installing on Jayman Homes here in Calgary, Ian has been an excellent role model and a humble one at that.
Ian is consistently nominated by his co-workers for living the SkyFire values. It seems to come easily to him and likely the reason he fits in so well here at SkyFire. Each month a staff member wins a gift certificate of their choice for winning the core values award. After finally winning in January Ian chose a gift certificate for tools.(because an electrician can never have enough tools!)
We chatted with Ian to learn more about his work, passion for the renewable energy industry and of course about his dogs, Storm, and Simba.
Tell us about your experience in the solar industry?
I first started in 2008 back in the UK designing commissioning and installing grid-tied String inverter Solar PV Systems. After moving to Canada in 2011 I continued my career in all aspects of Solar PV grid-tied systems but expanded to all types of inverters from string to optimizers to microinverter systems. So almost 12 years experience now installing on most roof types and ground systems!
How did you get into the renewable energy industry and solar in particular?
I had my own electrical contracting business at the time in the UK when a friend and business colleague approached me to become his approved Solar PV specialist and installer. He was a property developer but had seen the direction the UK was taking at that time with the introduction of the UK Feed-In Tariff! I had always tried to show interest in upcoming new technologies and expanding my electrical scope so I jumped at the chance. I soon became fascinated and excited by the technology and how cool it was.
After so many years in the industry what still excites you about renewable energy?
The technology just continues to improve and become more affordable for the average consumer. It’s one of the only ways for consumers to offset rising utility costs and it’s still treated in some aspects as a kind of magic.
I never want to be known as just another electrician, so I took steps to embrace my Solar PV career because it was a cool new exciting technology and it was a step towards helping the climate with a clean green way of producing energy.
The work is hard but rewarding and knowing my efforts make a difference to the planet we live on and all share is a huge thrill!
One thing I always make clear to people is that I don’t think solar and other renewable technologies should replace fossil fuels, rather be embraced to work alongside and help to reduce carbon emissions.
What makes work meaningful for you?
We spend the majority of our lives working, it should be something you enjoy. Like I said earlier, knowing my work and efforts are appreciated and is making a difference! That is second only to the thrill and excitement I see in the faces of customers as their systems are installed and they finally see that solid green light showing they are producing their own energy!
It’s a pity the old meters are mostly gone because seeing the meter spinning backward is still one of the coolest things I’ve seen!
What do you like to do when you aren’t installing solar?
I used to play soccer for the longest time but these days the majority of my time is spent with my wife, Mel, and my dogs. I’m also a huge long-suffering Miami Dolphins fan and my wife and I try to take a vacation every year or so to take in a Dolphins game in Miami. We enjoy socializing with our close friends and supporting our own #MMABarbie, Shannon in her MMA career!
I also still enjoy playing PC computer games when I have a chance, I never really grew up in some ways and have always been a big geek.
Tell us about your dogs.
I’m not sure I have the time to say everything about them, We moved here with our 3 Siberian Huskies from the UK. They are my life and family, the only kids I have. Sadly we lost Maya almost 4 years ago to cancer when she was 8. We still have Simba, 12, Storm 10 yrs old. We devote most of our spare time to making their lives as full of love and enjoyment as they give us every day. No matter how hard or tiring my day has been, seeing their faces when I get home to make my day, the best therapy there is.
You have been nominated each month for living the core values of perseverance, integrity, and accountability. What are your thoughts on living a values-based life?
The nominations are extremely humbling because SkyFire is a company and team of driven, talented people who I’m privileged to be a part of and I can’t thank my co-workers enough. I just do my work to the best of my ability and try to give 100% every day. My parents were hardworking and have tried to install that in me. I hope my efforts install the same values in others.
I think that without values then your life will never be as fulfilling as it could be. Every action, no matter how small can have a profound impact so always be the best you can be!
Ian and other SkyFire staff working on the Sundancer project southwest of Edmonton
Recently you were part of the team that volunteered at the Mustard Seed. What did you take away from that experience?
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t take my job for granted and am privileged to work for Skyfire! Others are not so lucky, some struggle to make ends meet and without the help of volunteers, they would struggle even more. It never hurts to give something back when you have the chance, being at the Mustard Seed the other day was a changeup and being able to have a laugh and build teamwork was a bonus!