The Toronto Construction Association (TCA) is 150 years old this year and while the past century-and-a-half has been successful, its president is looking forward to the future and the next 150 years.
"We're excited to have served the industry for 150 years, but what matters the most of course is the next 150 years," said John Mollenhauer, president and CEO of the TCA.
The organization officially kicked off its birthday after the 149th annual general meeting (AGM) and Best of the Best Awards at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto Feb. 9.
TCA chair Craig Lesurf said this year marks a significant milestone.
"There aren't many things in Canada that are 150 years old, so it's quite an accomplishment that the TCA is the oldest mixed-trade organization in North America," said Lesurf. "We're very proud of our heritage and our background with regards to having members from all across the industry spectrum."
The association has planned a big celebration that will take place in September at Steam Whistle Breweries in Toronto.
The highlight of the AGM was the Best of the Best Awards, honouring a dozen of the industry's best people, companies and projects. Bruce Reynolds and Sharon Vogel, the team who conducted Ontario's Construction Lien Act review, took home the Donald P. Giffin Sr. Construction Industry Achievement Award.
"It's a really strong group and this year we have especially worthy award recipients," said Mollenhauer. "In all cases they made a genuine difference and made our industry much stronger.
"This year is the first year during my watch that every one of the winners was unanimous. It speaks volumes about the quality of the winners this year."
Reflecting on the past year, Lesurf noted the TCA promoted a number of health and safety initiatives, advocated for lien act review, completed database integration resulting in efficiencies and improved service to members and introduced new e-learning platforms to help with member training and education.
"I think it was a good year for the TCA. We've looked at things and are making sure we are fiscally responsible and we're expecting to have a good year in 2017," said Lesurf, adding it was a very strong year financially resulting in a positive cash flow of nearly $400,000.
One of his biggest accomplishments as 2016 chair is safety and it remains a priority in 2017.
"The number one thing we've done is safety," said Lesurf. "We're taking it and promoting it to our members and trying to raise the bar in the industry. The big message to membership is we as an industry need to work safe, we want to make sure everyone goes home at the end of the day safe and if we're leaders in the industry then leaders need to lead."
As advocates for the League of Champions, Lesurf and Mollenhauer attended an event at George Brown College in Toronto and spoke to over 400 students about safety in the industry.
"They recognized at the school level — these are folks coming into the industry — how important it is that our workplaces be safe," said Mollenhauer. "I think the fact that George Brown became the first college to join the League of Champions speaks volumes about how perceptive they are about the future."
2017 marks Lesurf's second year as chair and in addition to safety, he will also focus on member engagement.
"We're trying to serve our members with all the needs that they have," said Lesurf. "We have a great staff and support network at the TCA. I think anyone who is a member can derive benefit from being involved with TCA through support, knowledge and networking. We know a lot of things and connect people."
He pointed out the importance of speaking with a united voice.
"We need to find ways to engage members so that they feel they are in an industry and not just a series of companies. We need to have a voice as construction not just as individuals," Lesurf explained. "As an industry I think we have a lot of clout and we have to make sure we do things with that."
The TCA also changed its logo this year which Mollenhauer said points to the need to evolve and keep up with the fast-paced industry.
"The industry is so dynamic and so rapidly changing — what was once very static and predictable, in terms of materials and methodology, didn't change very much from one year to the next," said Mollenhauer.
"These days change is real and rapid."