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Ottawa contractors’ association honours Ron Barrie with ethics award

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by Korky Koroluk

Ron Barrie has a somewhat different take on ethical conduct.

General Contractors Association of Ottawa


Ron Barrie has a somewhat different take on ethical conduct.

“Ethical conduct, integrity in all aspects of business, is not something I think of as an objective,” he said last week in receiving the Ethics and Integrity Award from the General Contractors Association of Ottawa.

“I believe it is simply the result of behaving in a proper manner.”

Barrie logged a lot of good behaviour during a career that spanned 47 years. He worked as an estimator, a project engineer, chief engineer and construction manager. He retired last year from the Ottawa branch of PCL Constructors Canada Inc., where he had been a senior construction manager.

He accepted the reward at a reception attended by members of the association, and many of his peers from across the construction industry.

In an interview afterwards, he said the award was especially meaningful since it came from “people who know the industry, who understand the struggles one goes through from time to time.”

“I’m honored — humbled — by the award.”

He said although there are still “rogues” in the industry, “I don’t know how they stay in business. There are just too many good people and companies to deal with, so the rogues tend to find themselves isolated.”

They exist, though, because sometimes regulations covering government work make it difficult to weed them out during the prequalification process..

During his time with PCL in Ottawa, Barrie worked on a number of landmark projects, including the World Exchange Plaza in the downtown core, the Nortel Palladium projects, the new passenger terminal building at Ottawa international airport, and the Queens Centre at Queens University in Kingston.

Paul Benoit, president and chief executive officer of the airport authority was one of the people who supported Barrie’s nomination for the award.

During the several years Barrie was associated with the authority, he wrote, “we have benefited from Ron’s ability to consistently provide leadership, guidance, advice and support, not only to his own PCL team, but the entire project team, which included the client and consultant team.”

As he presented the award, GCAO president Gary Kozak, praised Barrie for a “life-long commitment to the very values the General Contractors Association seeks to promote.”

Barrie said the team approach, treating people with respect, and valuing their contribution is “infectious,” and soon spreads to the whole team.

“A lot of people want to work that way,” he said, “so a lot of energy is created, which leads to positive results.”

“People become so enthusiastic, I often wondered whether I was leading or running as hard as I could to catch up.”

He said he loves to read, and wants to do a lot of that in retirement. History is an important interest, and he said he is considering enrolling in some university courses on the subject.

And he is still interested in two things he worked at over the years: helping women get into the construction business, and talking about construction careers to young people, encouraging them to pursue careers in the industry.

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