Cabot Leadership Feature: John Hector Smith

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Meet the man who built Cabot’s original tee blocks, John Hector Smith. 
While his passion for tinkering only began at the age of 16, John Hector has certainly made up for lost time. One of the very first employees at Cabot Links, having officially joined Cabot in 2010, he has become an integral member of the Cabot Family. A true team player and hard worker, if something needs fixing, John Hector is your guy. Read on to learn more about John Hector’s Cabot experience:

1. What is your background and when did you start working at Cabot?

My background was mostly working with vehicles and in hotels, and most of my job history was focused on maintenance. Before Cabot, I had never worked with mowers or the type of machinery we used in the turf shop. I had kind of been working on the site here before it was even clear that it was going to become a golf course.

Around 2008/2009, I was working with another business and was contracted to do some bush hogging of potential green sites so that Ben Cowan-Dewar could get a feel for the land. In February of 2010, Cabot approached me with a job offer and I started on March 1st that year. I started as mechanic in the turf department. I worked there for six years and then was presented with a new opportunity last winter, to lead the maintenance team as the maintenance manager. 

2. Was maintenance always something you were passionate about as a kid?

When I was 15, I probably couldn’t tell you what a spark plug looked like, and that’s no lie. My interest started at 16, when I got my first car.

I just said to myself that if I am going to drive I must be able to fix it. I got a vehicle and I just put my head down and started figuring things out. My passion just kind of exploded from there. There is nothing that I won’t tear apart these days just to put it all back together and see how it works. I could take anything and spread it all across this table and put it all back together and turn it over. I’m all self-taught.

3. What was it like working for Cabot in those early days?

When I started, I basically walked into an empty shop. Our maintenance/turf shop had no equipment at the time. But the way people were talking, it sounded like we were going to get a lot of gear and it was going to be a great challenge.

4. Were you happy to have the opportunity to work in Inverness.

Yes. I was very, very fortunate to have the opportunity come along. I am from Inverness, and this is my home. It was a one-in-a-million opportunity. No one knew what Cabot would become back then. We all had our own opinions about it. Some people said, “There’s no way it will ever be a golf course.” Look at it today!

5. Comparing what it was like in the beginning to today, has it lived up to the somewhat lofty expectations? 

It far surpassed anything that anybody imagined. We all wanted to see this be the best, but I think it’s gone beyond that. 

Working here has been excellent. It’s brought on many new challenges. It’s all hands-on, and I get faced with new challenges every day.

6. What is your favorite aspect of Cabot?

This place is like home to me. It’s my second home now. I think that’s the way it needs to be treated. It’s just the overall Cabot experience. You get to see everybody, talk to everybody…it’s about family.

As a maintenance team, we get to work with everyone. The people who work here – they’re everything. It’s what it’s all about. We all work as a team.

7. What is your favorite aspect of living in Inverness?

I guess for me it’s the quietness of the community. I've been to Toronto and out west. I’ve seen what that life is like. You do what you have to do, but home is here.

 8. You mentioned that the work at Cabot has often been challenging, do you think that’s for the better? 

Yes, it pushed me. It pushed me forward. It pushed me to be better. “How can I make this quicker?” “How can I make this easier?” It’s all challenges. 

The challenges are getting a little less now because I’ve been here for so many years. I get a call now and I already know the problem and how to fix it. It just comes with the experience, I guess. 

The first season was particularly challenging working in the turf department because it was different than a lot of the work I had been doing at the time. After the first season, though, I kind of felt like I had it all in my back pocket. Then the Cliffs came along which brought about some new challenges—everything was doubled. But again, after another season, I had it in my back pocket once again.

9. What advice would you have for someone who is thinking about working at Cabot?

Come in with a clear head and have a family mindset. Cabot is a great place to work. It’s very demanding, but it’s a good demanding.

It doesn’t matter who calls for help, I think everyone has to work together. It’s not always department-specific. If you can help, I think you have to help. It’s all one big puzzle and I think everybody needs to put their hand on it. That’s kind of the base for working here. Everybody helps everybody.

 10. Do you have any highlights from your time working at Cabot that you’d like to share? 

Being a part of the team that opened both golf courses. I actually made the tee boxes that we opened Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs with. I made them from some of the old boardwalk fence that used to be at the beach. They survived a long time and they are still stored in the Turf building today. It’s kind of my own personal thing, the tee blocks. I can say that the tee blocks I built opened two world-famous courses. How many people have the opportunity to say that?

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