Newly elected Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) president Jim Hurst got his feet wet in the industry as a field engineer on the $1 billion Highway 407 project north of Toronto while employed at Armbro Construction Ltd.
For the native of northern Ontario’s Larder Lake and University of Western Ontario educated civil engineer, that experience was memorable, in part because of the sheer magnitude of the toll highway built by the Canadian Highways International Corp. (CHIC) consortium.
“That was the single largest road contract in Canada’s history at that time,” says Hurst, now vice-president of construction/area maintenance contracts at Steed and Evans Ltd. of Heidelberg.
“I think in one month alone, we did $60 million of work.”
The fact that it was a design-build contract made the project noteworthy as well, says Hurst, who joined CHIC partner Armbro in 1994 after a seven-year stint at London’s Matthews Contracting.
“You actually could tweak the design as you went along and make some adjustments to enable ease of construction.”<0x000a>The initial 69-kilometre stretch of the highway opened in June 1997 “slightly ahead of schedule and on budget.
“You don’t hear that said much about mega-projects these days,” says Hurst, who notes that the project was a success both for the provincial government of the day as well as the four partners in CHIC.
Hurst joined Steed and Evans in 2001 and is now one of the company’s owners. Initially responsible for the company’s area maintenance contracts division, Hurst subsequently was named manager of construction and maintenance before assuming his current position.
“I guess you could say the buck stops here,” Hurst says of his added responsibilities as one of the company’s three owners.
Hurst became active in ORBA after joining Steed and Evans, a long-time supporter of the association.
“They suggested that I join the area maintenance contractors council, since I was managing that division.”<0x000a>Hurst became an ORBA director in 2007.
He believes the key to the association’s future success lies in maintaining solid relationships with key partners, among them, the Ministry of Transportation, Infrastructure Ontario, Metrolinx, educational institutions and First Nations communities.
“I’m big on partnerships,” he says, noting that the foundations are communications and trust.
The fourth executive from Steed and Evans to serve as ORBA president, Hurst is an advocate of volunteerism.
“I grew up volunteering in my community, as did my parents,” says Hurst whose father was a mining engineer and whose mother stayed at home to raise Hurst and his two older sisters.
“At ORBA, we’re donating our time to try and improve the roadbullding business for everyone.”