In 1961, after several years in the logging industry, four Visscher brothers got together and founded a retail lumber yard in Chilliwack. By the late 1970s, the operation had evolved into a remanufacturing facility and today, the Visscher Family of Companies not only operates two wood processing plants, they also have a metal and forming factory and warehouses.
Mike Visscher was born into this reality and the drive, determination and commitment to quality that has made this second generation company so successful, has had a positive influence on this young man’s life.
Mike has essentially lived in Chilliwack his entire life and the Visscher family is firmly entrenched in the fabric of this community.
At 23, he’s the eldest of four children and admits that he was raised in a strict household but credits his mother and father with keeping him on the straight and narrow. They also taught their son the meaning of hard work. “I had to work for what I got. By the time that I was ten, I was helping my grandfather on the farm,” he said. By the age of 13, Mike was working on the green chain and he quickly figured out that he didn’t want to do that for the rest of his life.
For the first four years of grade school, Mike attended Timothy Christian School but was homeschooled from grades five through nine. “I went back to Timothy Christian for Grade 10, but went to Career Technical Centre for grades 11 through 12 and the first year of my apprenticeship,” he explained. He admits that he isn’t one bit scholastically inclined. Rather, he’s very much a hands-on kind of guy. “I never wanted to be involved in the forest industry; it’s too volatile. For Grade 10 work experience, I tried out a career as an electrician. I enjoyed it but wasn’t sure. My dad encouraged me to pursue it and told me that it’d be something that I’d have under my belt. I could always change my mind at a later time,” he said.
So, it was resolved. Mike Visscher would become an electrician and he began his apprenticeship with Norich Electric. “I’ve been with them for five years now and I love the work. I really enjoy the variety and I’m always learning something new.” While he enjoys his work as an electrician, he also still enjoys working on the farm. “My great-grandpa, Pete Visscher, was a cattle herder here in Chilliwack. My granddad went into lumber but he still had a farm. Then he got diabetes and had to have both of his legs amputated and the worse he got, the more I had to take over,” he said. Mike began taking care of the farm and working as an electrician, something that he continues to do until this day. “At one point we had 30 head of Black Angus cattle. I still have four cows on the farm for my own use but I auctioned off the rest of the herd.”
Although Mike was homeschooled from grades five through nine, this was briefly interrupted in Grade 6 when he did half a year at MEI (Mennonite Educational Institute). It was here that he met a beautiful girl named Brittany that would one day become his wife. “I always thought that she was way out of my league,” he laughed. It wasn’t until many years later that they would reunite and subsequently marry. “We have a 16-month-old daughter named Shayla and we have another child on the way. I’m not an overly emotional kind of guy but they do get to you. That child breaks my heart,” he said, smiling.
Mike has a can-do attitude and has an immense work ethic. “I’m certainly a cup-is-half-full kind of guy. I can’t handle negativity. There’s no use crying about things; let’s just get it done,” he said, rather emphatically. He recalled one instance, while he was working at the mill, when a piece of lumber hit him in the face and two of his teeth went right through the skin. “I went to the bathroom and stuffed some paper towel in my mouth to stop the bleeding and went right back to work. You just do what you have to do. For every 10 minutes of work stoppage, thousands of dollars are lost, so you gotta keep going. I work hard and I’m happy with my life. I couldn’t ask for a better life. I could always use more money,” he suggested. I quickly added that the more you have, the more you spend. “Exactly,” he laughed, as he headed back to work.