A Journey of Creative Evolution


Employee Spotlight: Shawn Kavanagh

A Journey of Creative Evolution at North West Rubber



Q1:  How did you begin your journey at North West Rubber and what are some of the unexpected twists that brought you here?

I graduated from digital art school in 1998. I was hoping to land a cool job as a graphic designer or a video game developer, but instead I ended up with a bunch of student loans, so I landed a job as night shift Die Cutter.

After three months of cutting mats, I got promoted to a Mat Maker. I learned a lot from that job and made some lifelong friends along the way.

Q2: What are some standout moments in your career at North West Rubber?

Things got really interesting when North West Rubber decided to buy a USC machine. This machine could cut mats with an ultrasonic blade and create custom designs. And guess who they picked to run it? That’s right, me! The kid with a digital art degree and computer skills. I was excited to finally use my creativity.

I created everything from Interlocks to rubber horseshoes. Some of my favourite jobs to work on were for the Olympics in Vancouver, where I worked with City planners to design the floor for the Robson Square ice rink and the locker room floor for Team Canada. I even hid a lucky Loonie under the puck, I was having a blast for those years!


"I even hid a lucky Loonie under the puck, I was having a blast for those years!"


Shawn Kavanagh, Allan McMordie | Photo credit: North West Rubber (NWR)


Photo credit: North West Rubber (NWR)

Q3: Are there any moments at North West Rubber that facilitated a significant transition in your career?

In 2011, North West Rubber sent me to school for 3D mechanical design where I learned to use SolidWorks software. I teamed up with Roy, my mentor and friend, and we started designing and engineering stuff in 3D.

For a few years, I became the plant supervisor. I learned how to manage a large group of people and push operations to the fullest. It was a challenging but rewarding experience.


Q4: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your career at North West Rubber?

In 2019, we had our biggest challenge yet: designing and building a manufacturing plant in one year. I spent six months flying back and forth between Canada and the US, helping with the construction, installation, testing, and troubleshooting of everything.

Covid hit and everything changed. The world slowed down and so did our big projects. My new supervisor, Kevin S, pushed me to finish my Professional Degree in SolidWorks. It was perfect timing and I’m glad he did as I was able to help the engineering team with design and automation to shape NWR’s future.


Shawn holds an important role within North West Rubber, and we are genuinely inspired by his story, which showcases the power of adaptability and continuous learning.

Follow Shawn's continued adventures at North West Rubber on his Instagram: Shawn Kavanagh (@kavy00). Stay tuned for more Employee Spotlights, where we celebrate the incredible talents within North West Rubber.