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Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada president says industry did well in 2010

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by Patricia Williams

The volume of business for consulting engineers changed little from 2009 to 2010, which was good considering the overall economy, said John Gamble, president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC).
Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada president says industry did well in 2010

MONTEBELLO, Que.

Despite a “slight dip” in revenues from the previous year, Canada’s consulting engineering industry fared well overall in 2010, says John Gamble, president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC).

He told the association’s annual general meeting that the industry as a whole chalked up $21.4 billion in revenues in 2010, according to data compiled by Statistics Canada.

“Essentially, the volume of business in the sector has remained unchanged from the previous year, which is quite something in the context of the broader economy.”

Gamble, whose organization represents close to 500 independent consulting engineering companies, said consolidation remains a fact of life in the industry, which employs 100,000 Canadians and is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of engineering services.

“We’ve seen a lot of consolidation in the last 10 years,” he said, noting that the number of ACEC member firms has dropped 21 per cent since 2001 but that the number of employees represented by those firms has climbed 89 per cent in that same period.

Gamble, whose association also represents 12 provincial and territorial organizations, said 2010 was a “strong” year for ACEC, as it continued to implement its strategic plan.

Priorities include building the profile of consulting engineers as trusted advisers, advocating for a better business and regulatory climate, being the recognized authority for national industry issues and business practices and enhancing communications with member firms and member organizations.

“We have really stepped up our advocacy efforts,” Gamble told consulting engineers from across the country attending the association’s 2011 summit and national convention.

Last year’s Parliament Hill day was a “resounding” success, he said, noting that the event provided an opportunity for participants to meet face-to-face with federal politicians.

Promotion of qualifications-based selection of consultants remains a focus, Gamble said. The association is working with Defence Construction Canada, a major government client, to develop a fee guideline that will assist the agency as it rolls out a pilot project using QBS.

ACEC also made the case to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) that e-learning tools developed through its municipal infrastructure solutions program encourage municipalities to use QBS for selecting consulting engineers.

As a result, CSA has developed QBS-Pro, an online training tool to introduce QBS and demonstrate how it is implemented.

Also last year, ACEC released Understanding Public Private Partnerships in Canada. Gamble said the report has garnered “rave reviews” from public and private sector organizations across Canada.

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