40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Scott MacKenzie

Scott MacKenzie

Age 33: President and Owner, MacKenzie Vault Inc.

As sure as we are born, we all have to go sometime. That somber fact explains the livelihood of Scott MacKenzie’s business. He owns and operates MacKenzie Vault, an East Longmeadow-based family business that makes cremation urns — and wasn’t exactly his first choice for a career.

Indeed, as a young man, MacKenzie wasn’t sure whether he wanted to get boxed into the family business. After graduating from high school, he was itching to get out of Western Mass. He envisioned lights, cameras, and himself on stage, so he headed to California to take acting classes.

Eventually he returned to the Bay State, not to push urns, but to go to college. He earned a Communications degree at Boston University and took a job as an account supervisor with the public relations outfit Schwartz Communications in Boston.

He was content in that role, but when his father began looking for an exit strategy in 2001, MacKenzie realized he couldn’t sit back and watch the business expire. Plus, after four years of working for others, he was ready to be his own boss. He moved back to Western Mass., spent a year thinking about it, then got onboard.

As it turned out, MacKenzie found the family urn business to be a tremendous outlet for his creative energies. In a relatively short period of time, he tripled sales, increased the employee headcount from seven to 18, expanded the company footprint from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet, and updated the brand.

“I essentially put a new twist on an old classic,” he said. He also added services, such as custom laser etching and engraving.

In his spare time, MacKenzie also volunteers for the Make-a-Wish foundation, Ronald McDonald House, and DARE.

As far as that theater career goes, “that’s dead,” joked MacKenzie. “I found out I enjoyed working behind the scenes more than being in front of the camera.”

—Amy Castor