MAAC Foundation (Multi Agency Academic Cooperative) and Task Force Tips
After 45 years in the firefighting equipment industry, Stewart McMillan believed his legacy was his family business, Task Force Tips, which was founded by his father, Clyde, in 1971.
“Meeting with an estate planning attorney, I said, ‘I don’t need a Plan B, I work for TFT.’ I didn’t think my legacy was anything else,” McMillan said. “I had expectations on my son that he would take over the family business. At 12, he told me that I have to write the final chapter on the business – that it’s my book and I need to write it and if he was in it that was ok and if he wasn’t that was ok too – it was my book.”
McMillan decided to sell TFT and that helped fund the MAAC Foundation – Multi Agency Academic Cooperative – named to honor his father “Mack,” who died fighting a fire at the age of 52. The training facility launched in 2017 with a focus on firefighters and providing a place to work through real-life scenarios.
“I was only 27 when my father died – that was when I had to grow up fast. … I loved working with the TFT team. I loved every day – being able to work on inventing things and changing an entire Industry,” he said. “My legacy is the training academy. It’s the most important thing that I ever started. I think of my industry now as the training industry, not the fire nozzle industry.”
Today, MAAC Foundation brings together all first responders to a common training ground to perfect their skills together. Firefighters, EMS and law enforcement have the opportunity to see how they can collectively work with each other in simulated real-life emergencies.
“MAAC is making a difference by supporting the first responders in our community,” he said. “They get asked to do more and more with less and less and to be able to give them a home where they can train and know that their contribution is valued, I think is more significant than I ever imagined it would be when I went down this path.”
McMillan has remained active in making an impact on the community, including working with the Valparaiso Park Foundation, Valparaiso Rotary and Purdue Northwest as well as being a governor appointment to the Ivy Tech State Trustees.
“I have been involved in so many different projects. Some as a volunteer, some as a board member and some as a donor,” he said. “Being involved in the community has always been important. I was taught by my parents to be generous and to do it without expectation.
“I try to never give anything with the expectation of a return. One of my most favorite quotes is ‘Expectations are premediated disappointments.’ You have to think about that for a moment, but it is so true. We go on a vacation, we have these great plans, and then something goes wrong and the whole trip becomes lost because so much was put on expectations. Life is a journey that changes by the moment. You just have to take it as it comes and make the best of it.”
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