Bob Ridley returns as GOHBA president

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Association a well-oiled machine ready to provide vitality to industry and members

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Returning Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) president Bob Ridley has experienced his share of challenges through decades of industry leadership.  As he commences his new two year term at the organization’s helm, he sees good things ahead, despite the current relatively flat economy, where some builders, trades and suppliers are feeling the pinch.

Ridley last served as president in 2007 to 2009 as the international financial crisis set the industry on edge.  Today, as he works as first vice-president at RJW-GEM Campbell Stonemasons Inc. on a contract to renovate Parliament Hill’s West Block, he says GOHBA is in good shape to advance the interests of current and prospective members.

“The association is really well positioned,” he said. “There is a great board of directors. There’s been progress over years in communications program and our relationships with the city.  I see my term as evolutionary, not revolutionary.”

“I believe the association is a well-oiled machine that is working well now.”

While Ridley is spending much of his time these days on a “House” (Parliament Hill) that doesn’t provide immediate shelter for individuals and families, he says he still retains close ties with the homebuilding industry, as a management consultant and through another residential development business, where he is a partner.

And government initiatives, whether they are at the federal, provincial and especially local levels, continue to have great significance for the industry.

“We’re going to continue to improve our relationships with the city, through our communications program,” he said.

Ridley says one priority is encouraging the new Ottawa high-rise condominium builders to join the GOHBA.  “It is a matter of establishing relationships with them and getting them involved,” he said.  “Often, especially, in dealing with national companies or out-of-town people, they are members of another local home building association.  Sometimes they don’t think they should belong to more than one association.”

“That’s one of our exercises – (determining) what can we do for them, and what are they looking for?” he said.

This ties in with creating membership value, “the $64,000 question,” Ridley said. He said the best value may come from encouraging members to practice the “Be a member . . . do business with a member” motto, and this may include working with builder members to encourage their trades and suppliers to join the GOHBA.

As well, he says the association’s directors are exploring other ideas to give more exposure and marketing opportunities to newer members such as dinner meeting speaking opportunities or perhaps a min-trade show, so they truly can benefit from the motto and – as they acquire new business – see first-hand how it pays them to join and participate in the association.

He says the GOHBA’s committees including the Builder Developer Council, the Builder Trade Council and the Renovators’ Council, have become the “backbone of activities over the past few years.”  He said there may also be advantages in reviewing the association’s strategic plan.

“The whole idea of the association is that we’re the voice of the industry,” Ridley said. “People come to us and seek our thoughts and input on topical issues and the more members we have, the more effective we’ll be at doing that.”

He says the association’s board of directors is exploring as well some fun and other initiatives to engage members and enhance the industry’s image.

In his presentation on accepting the presidency at the association’s annual general meeting in april, Ridley said his priorities will be:

  • “A focus on the development of new members, especially the urban infill and high rise builders and developers, so that we truly are the ‘Voice of the homebuilding industry’ in this region;
  • “Continued efforts to ensure that we offer excellent value to all of our members, particularly in promoting our collective interests, but also through a balanced program of social, networking and development opportunities;
  • “Support to our sub-committees, including the Builder/Developer Council, Builder Trade Council and Renovations Council;
  • “Renewal of the association’s strategic plan, development of a business plan and other measures to improve organizational effectiveness;
  • “Continuation of our excellent communications program and further collaboration with others who share our interests; and
  • “Enhancement of our relationship with the City of Ottawa.”

Ridley also said he would like to engage in another high-profile initiative comparable to last year’s Blitz Build, which raised money through an intensive construction project for Habitat for Humanity NCR.

“If I was to wrap it up in one word, I’d use ‘vitality’,” he said. “The vitality of the association and the our industry –  That’s my objective, to do whatever we can to improve the vitality of the industry in our region.”

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