Best in the Country

The Grand Valley Construction Association faces the future with confidence… and lots of preparation

By Paul Knowles
The Grand Valley Construction Association has been in existence since 1974, but in a lot of ways, it seems like a brand new entity, every year. That’s because the GVCA is one of the most future-facing organizations in the business – and it has been honoured for its innovation and vision with a number of awards, including, most recently, taking top honours among all Canadian construction associations.

The GVCA was formed when the Guelph Construction Association and the Kitchener-Waterloo Construction Association merged. Martha George is President of the GVCA. She’s been a part of the organization since the late 1980’s; she broke the glass ceiling by becoming the board chair in 2000, and then the full-time President of the association in 2005, a post she has held to this day. She heads a team of six staff members. And she says, “I love it.”

GVCA Staff recognized with National Award

George told Exchange that the association has to keep re-inventing itself because “everybody’s doing business a little bit differently.” Where not that long ago, a general contractor would bid on a job, and would bring in subcontractors and trades to carry out their assigned tasks, today, the process is much more collaborative, and subcontractors often get involved much earlier in the process, carrying out design assessment and being involved directly in project management from a much earlier stage.

That’s important to the GVCA, because the association’s membership includes professionals from every stage of the construction process. The GVCA has about 700 members, says George, and she adds that “we’re pretty much maxed out at that.” Maintaining a membership of that size – which is as large as the GVCA has ever been – is no small accomplishment, considering the fact that “a lot of associations in Ontario are reporting large declines.”

It’s never business as usual at the GVCA, according to the President. “We are always identifying what our value proposition is.” The key to that, she adds, is “being ahead of what our members need to know… being perceived as being the leader.” It’s not easy, being ahead of the curve. George laughs that, “it keeps me awake at night.”

Vigilance is critical, she believes. The industry is changing, sometimes weekly. Smart buildings, urban core restoration projects, and energy efficiency are all front and centre in today’s building business. And George knows it will not stop there: “We all know there’s an Uber out there that’s going to slap us across the head.”
While George contends that her industry needs to be ready for the next high tech developments, she also points out that high tech – especially in this region – would not be what it is today without her industry. “The builders are the ones that make this high tech area come true. The tech guys say what they want – but we make it happen!”

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ISSN 0824-45
Copyright, 2018.