MSVU alum builds suite of successful tourism businesses
“I can’t speak highly enough about MSVU”
Now the owner and operator of four tourism businesses in Lunenburg with a team of more than 100 employees in peak season, Adam Bower is a 2003 graduate of MSVU’s Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management program. We recently had a chance to talk with him about how MSVU helped him to build a strong career and a suite of successful businesses in his hometown.
Why did you choose to attend MSVU?
I grew up in Lunenburg, and I’ve only ever worked in the tourism and hospitality management industry. My first job in high school was working at a restaurant and I decided that’s what I wanted to do for a career – be in the tourism and hospitality industry. My guidance counselor in high school told me about the tourism and hospitality management degree program at MSVU. I hadn’t heard of it before, so I set up a site visit on campus and then applied to the school. I wanted to stay in Nova Scotia and this degree program was really attractive to me.
What path has your career followed?
While I was going to MSVU, I worked in Lunenburg. I did a work term at the restaurant that I grew up working in – The Grand Banker. I did one work term in Halifax at Murphy’s on the Water and my last work term I wanted to be back in Lunenburg. I was given an assistant management position at the restaurant and the inn. That experience is what helped open the door for me after graduation. Between my degree and the fact that I already had some management experience, I was able to land a management job with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. I moved out west to work in Jasper, Alberta, at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, and I was there for about four years working in various departments at the resort. I was then able to transfer to the Delta Halifax and Delta Barrington in downtown Halifax, where I spent another four years working in management at the two hotels. After that, I worked at The Halifax Club. Then, more than seven years ago, I got a call from the person who gave me my first job as a teenager when he was selling his business.
And where are you now?
I ended up buying the Grand Banker Bar & Grill in Lunenburg, so I now own the restaurant where I had my first job bussing tables. I also own The Brigantine Inn, Shipwright Brewing Company – which I started a few years ago – and then, last year, I bought The Old Fish Factory restaurant, so I’m now the owner of two restaurants, an inn and a brewery. My wife and I moved here just before we had our first child, so I get to raise my kids in my hometown. Our first daughter, Anna, was born two weeks after we opened the Grand Banker in April 2014. She’s seven years old now, and we have another daughter, Chloe, who’s four years old. My wife is an elementary teacher, and she went to MSVU as well. She’s worked in the industry too, so she knows the hours that that it takes.
Why did you choose this line of work?
I am passionate about this industry. I got involved in it because I worked in restaurants and in Lunenburg you get to talk to everyone coming here. You take where you grew up for granted until you start learning why other people see it as being so special. I developed a passion for tourism and for Lunenburg and hometown pride of where I was from. Being back here and being able to do what I love in my hometown – it couldn’t be a better situation.
How has your MSVU education and experience influenced your life?
I still use the experience I gained at MSVU in everything I do. It’s helped me in every job I’ve had since I graduated. It provided me a solid foundation and an understanding of the many components of the industry and the jobs I would hold in the future. It gave me confidence and a knowledge base to support my success.
Through the co-op education program, I gained actual job experience that opened doors for me right after graduation. I can’t speak highly enough about MSVU. Everything you learn while you’re taking the tourism and hospitality management program you’re going to need eventually.
Do you have any stories that stand out from your time at MSVU?
I always tell everyone what I value the most about my experience at MSVU is the relationships I was able to form. It’s a smaller university and it has a community feel that you especially notice when you live on campus. For me, coming from a small town and moving to Halifax, living on campus there made for a nice transition. It’s kind of like a town within the city.
And there are relationships that I formed while I was there that continue to this day. In particular, my co-op advisor, Mausi Reinbold, was very helpful with my work terms and even after university she stayed in touch with me. She followed my career and it’s actually because of her that I was able to move back to Nova Scotia four years after graduation. She told me about an opening at the Delta Barrington and Delta Halifax and connected me with the general manager there. So, four years after I graduated from university, a relationship from my time at MSVU opened another door for me and allowed me to progress in my career and come back home.
What would you say differentiates MSVU from other post-secondary institutions?
In my field – tourism and hospitality management – it’s that it’s an actual degree program – a business degree that’s focused on the tourism and hospitality field. It is the only one I know of in this part of the country. That was something special for me.
And I’ll go back to the community feel the school has and the relationships you’re able to form because of the size of the classes.
MSVU was also good at using industry professionals. Most every class featured someone who either had worked or was currently working in the field, and that ensured we were staying on top of trends. MSVU was also always up to date with the latest technology and we were very current in the material we were learning. As a student, when your professor has actually worked in the area you’re studying or is currently working in the field, it brings a whole new level of engagement.
What’s next for you?
I’m still always looking to grow and expand my four businesses. Every time I’m able to grow a business – adding on another piece – it allows me to offer more opportunities for everyone who works for me. That’s a big thing for me – I’m someone who is always looking for ways to grow, so I want to be able to provide that for my employees. The brewery is the next step for me – to grow production there – and then, who knows? I’m pretty engaged in everything going on in the town and trying to play a part in any new developments here.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’m teaching part-time at MSVU now. I’ve taught Beverage Management, and it’s right up my alley – having the restaurant and having a brewery. I’m also a sommelier. That’s a course I’m going to apply to keep teaching. I really enjoy it. I have a lot of industry partners I can pull in as guest speakers. I really enjoyed the professors I had who were out in the field and who could give examples of what was actually going on in their day-to-day. I enjoy giving back to the students.