The Family Business

Kathryn laying sod with Murray.

After adopting Kathryn in 1985 and having Ashleigh in 1990, Murray and Alison continued to focus on the growth of their business and included their girls in the business from a young age. Many of Kathryn and Ashleigh’s childhood memories are related to Kiwi. The brown house where they grew up was attached to the workshop, where all the landscapers would start their morning before heading to site. The girls saw some of the Kiwi staff as members of the family, specifically their mechanic Pete; they were close with him and his wife Lydia whom they loved spending time with and going to Swiss Chalet with.

Most of Kathryn’s Kiwi memories involve working with her dad onsite, operating machinery and getting dirty, which she still describes as her “favourite thing in the whole wide world”. There are countless memories of her onsite from a young age working with Murray as a member of the Kiwi crew laying sod and planting trees. Kathryn always loved working with him and has a deep respect for his work ethic. She has always appreciated his approach to work and his ability to get things done. When she was 16 and had just got her license, she was on a jobsite in Edmonton with Murray when he told her there were too many vehicles onsite and she would need to drive one back home. The truck that she had to drive home was a standard and had a fully loaded trailer with a Skid Steer. Murray told her “you’ll figure it out” and trusted her to make it home and learn a new skill along the way. Kathryn recalls stalling out at least 4 times, and arriving home quite upset, but after that she could drive standard and haul a trailer; two skills which would serve her well in the coming years.

10 years later, Ashleigh is helping Murray lay sod.

Although Ashleigh also has memories of operating equipment and helping Murray on sites, many of Ashleigh’s childhood memories point to her continued entrepreneurial spirit and focus on business growth and development. She was always looking for a new way to bring in some extra cash, starting with Murray paying her one penny per weed pulled and lining up her coloring sheets to sell to the landscapers for 25 cents each. By the time she was in junior high, Ashleigh was making interest on money lent to students out of her locker, renting out pens and pencils to students who had lost theirs, and making and selling “cheat sheets” for tests that allowed them. Some fond memories of before she started school are of going with her mum to site inspections, doing estimates, making deposits at the bank (Ashleigh loved standing in the business line and completing the deposit herself even when she couldn’t see over the counter) and picking up supplies from Gregg’s Distributors where she loved getting a free donut. Once Ashleigh reached an age where she could start working on the sites with Murray, she was busy with ringette and did not have the same love of getting dirty and operating equipment that Kathryn did, viewing it as “family chores” and opting to get an outside job at A&W at age 16.

Although Kathryn and Ashleigh’s childhood may not have been typical amongst their friends, they both loved living out on their 40 acres and enjoying the trails and lakes Murray had made. Both girls loved having so many unique animals to bring to show and tell in their early school years, and enjoyed hosting friends and taking family trips in the winter.


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