Philanthropy is a virtue Michael and Jane Schwenger are instilling into their family through the creation of a family foundation, and by creating a permanent home for the family’s history through the Community Builders Initiative in the expanded Joseph Brant Museum.
“The museum will have future needs once it is open, so by having our family front and centre in the Burlington Builders Gallery it will be a constant reminder to our kids and future generations about what we have in that facility,” says Michael, who took over his father’s business in 1976, transforming it into a company that supplies concrete polls and decorative light fixtures across North America.
The Stresscrete Group today is run by his son Michael Jr. with facilities in Burlington and the U.S. employing more than 400 people, including 160 at its Burlington plant.
Michael says he was approached about five years by Burlington Museum Foundation Ambassador Dan Lawrie, founder of Dan Lawrie Insurance Brokers. “We had been supporting the museum a little bit, but Dan came by and asked me to step up in a bigger way for the project they are doing now.”
The decision, he said, was simple. “If you can afford to do it, you should do it. That’s what I want to teach my kids. We have been very lucky, we have been blessed. And I believe it’s important that we give back.”
He said he and his wife were excited to become part of a project that will build on the successes of the Burlington waterfront. “With the new hospital and what’s happening at Spencer Smith Park, the expanded museum will be a great addition. It will encourage people to visit, to learn and be educated. You have to respect your history, and it’s important to show our children that too.”
Michael says it’s a great cause for community leaders to support. “We need to support our community whenever we can, and the museum is an important part of that. I am excited to see the finished product I can tell you. They’re going to do a great job with it.”