From a young age, Kyle Machan was interested in the world of skateboarding.
“I wanted to be a professional skateboarder,” he said. “It was only about 14 years ago that I really decided on my current career field.”
Throughout school, Machan had a few favourite classes but found his focus to be elsewhere.
“My favourite classes in high school were Web and Graphic Design along with Video Editing,” he said. “I wish I would have taken more opportunities in high school to really learn but I couldn’t see the application to my life at the time.
“I went to one year of Bible college with a friend in Strathmore, Alta., but I didn’t go there for the education as much as the experience.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty square person,” Machan continued. “Academically, I learned very little again. I wasn’t focused on that at the time, but I learned a lot about what I can do to help those around me and that my day to day actions matter.
“Everything you do has an effect on someone.”
While Machan’s career path took a different turn than he originally hoped, he always knew he wanted to help people, and his two businesses and many volunteer endeavours help him in this.
“I just wanted to help others,” he said. “I’ve never looked at it as a business to make money. It was just a way to give back to my community and maybe have some fun for a while until I had to grow up.
“It was a dream job that allowed me to spend time helping people and that’s really what I love doing.
“I really believe in skateboarding,” Machan continued. “I believe in the friendships it creates, the lifelong bonds and memories that can change a person’s life. I just wanted to share that with everyone I could.”
Machan noted that his wife, Ellie, was pivotal in helping him set the course for his life.
“Once I finally got Ellie to agree to marry me, she was really the one that took my business and made it just that,” he said. “It was a business that actually made enough to support a young couple just starting out. Without her, I would have quit a long time ago.
“I was going to be a carpenter because, as much as I love my job, there was no way I saw it supporting a family. I wasn’t really even making enough to support myself.
“Luckily, I have great parents who understand and always made sure I had food to eat,” Machan continued. “And, after a few years, I knew everything was going to be okay and I could breathe.”
Because Machan co-owns both of his businesses, as well as volunteers within the community, he sees the high points and the challenges of these tasks on a daily basis.
“The absolute high points are when I get to help someone out,” noted Machan. “Whether it’s a good deal on some new gear, volunteering for a skateboard camp or putting up Christmas lights, that’s my favourite part of the job.
“But, just like any job, stress is one of the biggest challenges. It may sound like rainbows and unicorns but I don’t really have time anymore like I used to. There are so many people counting on us to do a good job and I don’t like to let anyone down.
“I take everything quite personally, so if someone isn’t happy with my business, I take it as though they are not happy with me, and that can be a stressful thing,” Machan continued. “I’m getting better at it with time, but I’m only human.
“You can’t win them all, but I’ve always been a competitive person and like the challenges that come with these jobs.”
Although he truly loves what he does, Machan noted that he is just like everyone else and doesn’t always want to go to work in the mornings, but he loves being creative and doing fun things, like contests for children.
“For those wanting to pursue their passions, I have to say just don’t be afraid,” he said. “Don’t listen to the people who say you can’t do it. If you believe in what you’re doing, in the end, it will be worth it.”
Through Machan’s dedication and hard work, currently as Chair of the Skateboard Union and Secretary of the Tread the Thunder Bike Club, he has received local recognition.
“I have received more recognition than I really deserve,” he said. “When the Swan Valley District Recreation Commission gave me Volunteer of the Year a few years ago, that was very kind of them.
“I’m not embarrassed easily and am not afraid to stick my neck out for what I believe in, so because I’m more vocal, people give me credit all the time for a team effort.
“I’m a team player and only one part of a larger picture of all the projects or businesses I’m lucky enough to be involved in,” Machan continued. “At the end of the day, there is always a group of people in my corner and they deserve the accolades as much as I do.”
Machan added that the many service clubs that come alongside organizations to make projects like the Swan River Lions Skate Plaza a reality really helps the community as a whole.
“What keeps me motivated to continue the work is the fact that if I can make one person’s life better for even a day, it’s worth it,” he said. “Growing up might seem easy and like a vacation, but it’s not, so I want to make sure that the youth get to have as much fun as I did, and help them understand that there are good people in the world who want to make them happy.
“I think we make a lot of people smile,” Machan continued. “You can be having a bad day and when someone treats you like a fellow human being, and respect you enough to work hard and earn your business or your support, it’s all worth it.”