Aside from being the engineering manager at HSI Sensing, the Chickasha-based company that manufactures custom-made sensors and components for the medical, oil/gas, and aerospace industries, Zack McGill relies on his God-given talents and leadership skills to improve the community around him.
“I’m just doing what I can to help the community grow and find ways to improve,” the Konawa native said.
Moving to Chickasha about nine years ago, McGill has been involved in the community ever since, working with Chickasha Public Schools, Canadian Valley Technology Center and the Chickasha Area YMCA.
After some “upheaval” in Chickasha’s school board was made public a few years ago, McGill saw the need to become more involved with the district.
“There was a real rift in the community – a lot of mistrust between the district and the community and different people within the district...it just seemed like a mess. I was called and recruited and thought, ‘I honestly think I can help.’
“If things would have been healthy and there was a solid relationship between the board, the superintendent, the school district and the community, and things didn’t need a lot of improvement, I probably wouldn’t have run.”
Winning by an 875-73 landslide against the incumbent in Feb. 2018, McGill took the seat. He is now the senior-most board member and is currently serving as the board president.
“Culturally, it’s a lot better now. The feel of the district’s a lot better. We’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s definitely better than it was.”
In addition to his years of mentoring service for the high school robotics team, McGill serves on the board for the Canadian Valley Technology Center Foundation to raise funds for testing fees, special fees for students to participate in ambassadors clubs and competitions.
With the realization that “a lot of students’ families are unable to pay” for extracurriculars, McGill has also committed to helping raise funds for CVTC students.
“That next generation’s important. That is one of the best things we can invest in,” he stated.
McGill has also been on the board for the Chickasha Area YMCA for about seven years. He has served as the board’s chair and led fundraising campaigns. Although he is no longer on the board, he is still active in the organization’s fundraising.
“YMCA is more than a gym,” he said. “They do a lot for the community. For families to be able to participate in some of the sports programs and afterschool programs, without scholarships they wouldn’t be able.
McGill currently serves on the Chickasha Economic Development Council and observes the demographic of the organization is changing.
“We’ve got several in my age group added on the EDC in the last four or five years. Some of these people are from our family businesses and have gone to college, lived somewhere else and are now moving back. It balances out with the wisdom that is at the table with the people who have been doing it for 40 years already and have had businesses for a long time.
To help entrepreneurs open businesses in Chickasha, the EDC has launched a program designed earmarking most of the funds for the downtown district. The EDC also developed a committee to work on projects to make the community more inviting.
“Under the EDC we had a Chickasha Community Committee just to tackle projects that weren’t Chamber only or EDC only or City only, but they’re things that a small group of people could organize and get done. That’s how we got the strings of lights across Chickasha Avenue, were able to have the snowball fight at the end of the Christmas parade, put the big tree up that’s lit at the Rock Island Depot, and a few smaller things that we felt needed to be done.”
McGill enjoys serving the community, he encourages more people to volunteer for boards and committees, saying that the group of people doing the extracurriculars can get small.
“You can get overcommitted really, really fast,” he said. “There are so many roles to fill, so it’s on us to start recruiting that next level of leadership so they’re ready and plugged in.”
McGill and his wife, Anna, are raising their three children Cora, Kenna and Eliam in Chickasha.
“Without Anna doing all that she does for our family, I wouldn’t be able to serve the community in the capacities that I have so far,” he said blissfully.
In the office, McGill leads the product development team, interacts with HSI Vice President Travis Posey and the sales team to create or modify components to the customers’ specifications. The company designs and manufactures specialized components for the medical field, oil and gas, as well as special sensing for fighter pilot masks, fuel control systems on jets and airplanes. Aerospace products make up about 15% of HSI’s business, said McGill.
Education is a strong piece of Oklahoma’s future, said McGill. “For our communities to grow, we’ve got to be well-rounded,” said McGill.
“We need to encourage our kids to get plugged in and we need to give them something they can be passionate about. We need to talk about what works well and just focus on [what]we have. If we do that, we’ll have better chances of recruiting businesses that will pay good wages.”