The second in Dynamic US Inc.’s “Transformers” series focuses on John Sicinski of The Maid of the Mist – the wonderful boat experience at Niagara Falls. The Maid of the Mist boats are the first passenger vessels in North America to go fully net zero carbon emissions. If you’ve never been on a Maid of the Mist boat ride, do yourself a favor and check it out, it is an incredible experience of natural wonder and power.
Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, and how did you get to your current position?
I’m originally from Joliet, IL. I was interested in traveling the world, so I found my way to the United States Merchant Marine Academy. This led to career stops involving sailing aboard ships around the globe and performing vessel inspections with the American Bureau of Shipping living in the U.S., Singapore, and South Korea. My interest in green energy led me to leading an effort at Illinois Marine towing to propose a “Fleet of the Future” for the aging tow boat fleet. The proposal involved utilizing battery power for dwell times that harbor tugs often see. When I realized that the industry wasn’t quite ready for this step, I was invited to an opportunity with ABB to lead the engineering team with these types of propulsion designs. I’ve now found my final career stop with Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and it’s been a great place to land.
What excites you, your company and your current position?
Maid of the Mist is truly a treasure of a find for me and my family. This is a small family business with 177+ years of longevity. It has a small company, entrepreneurial feel and also has a global reach with customers traveling from around the world to visit the falls and enjoy a ride on our vessels. The innovation that the owners chose to implement puts Maid of the Mist on the map as the first passenger vessels in North America to go fully zero emission and all battery powered. Being in the lead of this electrification movement in the maritime movement at this point in history is really exciting and keeps things interesting.
What goals do you have for yourself as well as for the company in that time?
Coming out of the pandemic, we’re excited to see leisure travel returning to pre-pandemic numbers and return to tourism normal. My goal for myself is to ensure that my management team has the tools they need to excel in what they are so good at. We want to learn every day to continuously improve in all the little things that add up to big successes.
In what ways do you believe the work you do impacts the community around you? What is that community?
One cool way we are contributing to the state of is by assisting New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation commitment to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. Maid of the Mist has been able to achieve this objective 15 years early with two all new battery powered e-boats, the E/V Nikola Tesla, and the E/V James V. Glynn. Not only is this helping the state move forward in emissions reductions, it’s also greatly improving the tourism experience for our patrons traveling in from around the globe.
What are some of the biggest takeaways you’ve learned on the job?
Gather the right team with the right direction and mountains can, in fact, be moved. On our team, we have the right recipe of long-term dedication, industry expertise as well as love for the natural feature itself. Having this common thread of interest and motivation has allowed this organization to take huge strides forward both in technology as well as elevating what it means to take care of each other in a high functioning team.
What advice would you give someone who wants to get to where you are? What piece of advice do you yourself live by?
Keep it as simple as possible.
Always put family first.
Learn one new thing each day.
Inspire one person each day.
Be kind to and show respect to everyone always.
Be an excellent listener.
Ask, “How can I help?”
If you could have a mantra for your professional world, what would it be?
It’s not what you know or who you know … It’s what you want and how badly you want it.
What is one achievement you’re most proud of?
I feel it’s fair to say I have a loving, fun, and respectful home that my wife and I have developed with the help of our two boys. This is absolutely the achievement I’m most proud of.
What would you tell your younger self with regards to work and life, and ultimately balancing the two?
Keep your head down, work hard and be patient. Good things will come.
What is something you learned from trying and failing?
Most of the times I’ve made mistakes, it’s because I’ve moved too fast. When in doubt, take a breath, sleep on it, and then make the decision. Most of the time you’ll have the time to ensure the direction you’re going in is the right one.
When/How have you broken out of your own comfort zone?
In 2011, we moved the family from our hometown in Illinois to Singapore (three years) and then South Korea (1 ½ years) for an opportunity with ABS. My wife left her job as a high school teacher, and we took our two and four year old boys to Asia on an Expat assignment for 4 ½ years. It was terrifying, scary, thrilling, adventurous, and super fun all at the same time. It has given our family perspective, taught us that we can always rely on each other, and shown us that we can get through any transition as long as we’re in it together.
Who or what in your life has provided you with the most inspiration?
My mom has always been at the root of my daily inspiration. Sometimes little messages can resound through life that were received at an early age. I’ll never forget sweeping the kitchen floor at around 12 years old. I was not doing my best work. My mother looked over and very softly said, “Take pride in your work.” I think about that every day.
Where does the inspiration for your work come from?
For the role I’m in right now, I’m inspired by knowing that the work we do is contributing to the Niagara Falls and Western New York communities as well as preserving a natural Wonder of the World. Doing it in a way that is less polluting than before and being a pioneer for new technology makes what we do really fun and relevant in this point in history.