Family Holmes: Sherry, Mike and Michael
By Kerry Turner
For fans of home renovation shows the Holmes brand is one of, if not the most well-known in Canada. To achieve that level of success one would assume there was a master plan; how else does a contractor make the leap to stardom? That assumption would be wrong – at least at the outset of Mike Holmes’s career. Becoming a television celebrity wasn’t something he planned. Like many things in life, his start in television with Holmes on Homes in 2003 was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
“You know, it’s funny. I was doing a job for a television executive, griping about all the things those home renovation shows do wrong and what I’d do if I was in their position,” recounts Mike. “He liked what I was saying, and told me to put together a show for him. That was my start in television.”
Two of his children, Sherry and Michael, would later join him; once again without a grand plan. “I never intended on joining my dad’s business as a teenager,” says Michael. When he was 14, his dad asked him to work for him during the summer. “He said, “I will pay you good money and you will work very hard,”” recalls Michael.
“I always say that one of those things was true, anyone who has worked for a family company knows which one! That summer, I fell in love with working physically and working with my hands.”
Sherry also recounts how a career in construction wasn’t in the cards. “I always just assumed that construction wasn’t a viable career option for me, but boy was I wrong!” says Sherry. A common thread for the three Holmes is the drive to help people and raise the bar for renovators and trades people; as their well- known brand Making It Right reflects.
“I am so lucky to be able to help people the way we do. It is such a rewarding feeling to see lives truly changed and to see the looks on peoples’ faces when we can give them what they wanted or needed. It’s so incredibly humbling,” says Sherry.
Taking it to the community
The recent four-episode series, Holmes Family Effect, was a shift for the team. Organizations that have a positive impact on their communities, rather than families or individuals, are featured. “I have to say all of our shows been really amazing experiences, but our latest show, Holmes Family Effect really takes the cake The organizations we assisted do incredible work for their communities,” says Mike. “If they’re given the right support, I don’t think you could ever measure the impact they have on the community at large. For us to be a small part of that really makes me feel good.”
In the first show, Judith Nyman Secondary School in Brampton, ON gets a facelift. Nominator Riley set out to save her school’s skilled trades program. The 18-year-old sold the trio on transforming three rundown classrooms. She, together with fellow students, worked alongside the Holmes team.
A Pet Project
It is rare to hear people mention radon testing when they are purchasing a home. And it is even more rare to hear homeowners talk about testing as general good practice. This is something the Holmes are committed to changing.
“I think we haven’t reached that point where it’s really in the public’s consciousness. My team and I are working to change that because radon is a very serious issue. We should all be testing our homes for radon every two years at a minimum to ensure the levels in our homes haven’t spiked to dangerous heights,” says Mike.
Michael and Sherry, together with their pets Caicos and Loki respectively, are in video clips on the Bark Side of Radon, a campaign developed by Simon Fraser University students and now under Radon Environmental’s umbrella.
Mike is looking for bolder action on the part of regulators. “My hope is that it becomes part of the building code to have a radon mitigation system built into any new home build so that people can continue to feel safe in their houses,” says Mike
Promoting the trades
Mike and Michael both have an affinity for the Skills programs. “Skills programs really treat these kids like the rock stars they are. I love being able to attend Skills events all over the world and meet the up-and-coming tradespeople of the future,” says Mike.
Michael is equally enthusiastic. “The Skills Canada and World Skills competitions are like the Olympics for the skilled trades. Explaining it doesn’t do it justice but watching all of the young adults that compete at a level of an expert in their fields is something I think more people need to see,” contends Michael. “The more people that see the amount of talent, passion, creativity and skill that go into this field, the more people will want to try getting into it.”
Michael believes the greatest barrier for young people getting into the skilled trades is the stigma that surrounds it. “We need more support in the skilled trades industry, starting at home and at school. There needs to be more opportunities within schools for students to work with their hands to even see if this is something that interests them.
“The skilled trades are full of and need more educated professionals who are going to continue to make a difference, push boundaries and advocate for more sustainability, quality and equality,” says Michael.