STAFF WRITER – The Ottawa Construction News Special Feature
Eric Cameron joined Ottawa based Mar Gard in 2012 with a strong background in consulting engineering and a desire to own and manage a construction company. Today, he is the 26-year-old construction management company’s chief executive officer.
Cameron says when he initially met with Tony Mariani, founder and former president of Mar Gard, the two struck a deal in which Cameron would become a shareholder and spend time learning the business, leaning heavily on Mariani’s extensive experience. Three years later the two decided Cameron had a strong enough base and they switched positions.
“Today Tony is still very much involved but he is now able to focus on what he likes to do – build buildings, and I am able to use my experience to grow, develop and broaden the business.”
Cameron’s experience includes more than 25 years with several consulting engineering firms of various sizes. He was also co-owner of a large mechanical contracting company in Bermuda. His work includes projects in the civil, mechanical and electrical disciplines throughout Ontario and the Caribbean.
He says the biggest difference between consulting engineering and construction is the change in focus from design, which is fairly conceptual, to being responsible for every physical detail of a project from beginning to end. “In the design world there is limited risk exposure but in construction, you are responsible for everything,” added Cameron. This, he says, is what he has learned the most from Mariani and the Mar Gard staff.
“Mar Gard has a core of key staff members who have been here a long time, including a site superintendent with more than 25 years’ experience with Mar Gard. So the company has been able to evolve and broaden its base using the skills and experience of these long-term staff members.”
Cameron says, in addition to its construction management core competency, Mar Gard has recently completed a number of designbuild interior fit-outs where staff carry out the design, obtain municipal approvals, and then execute the fit-out leading to occupancy. He says these smaller projects have been successful because Mar Gard controls all phases, thereby significantly reducing project risk. He says Mar Gard will continue to invest in this space.
What will also be new, he says, is a foray into public sector work more aligned with Cameron’s consulting experience. “Hard bid public sector work is very different than fee based construction management work but we’ll take our time learning and acquiring what we need and hope to expand our presence, perhaps adding more people slowly and as needed.”
Cameron says Mar Gard has a long history working with pre-engineered buildings, and although they will continue to take on these opportunities when they arise, he says he and Mariani are aware this space has largely become commoditized in recent years. “You can buy pre-engineered steel buildings on the Internet. So while we are happy to continue to serve this market, we’re actively expanding our capabilities to include fit-outs, larger warehouses and especially structural wood ICI buildings.”
The company’s largest timber structure to date is the Alltrapro Development building on Denzil Doyle Court in Kanata. Some of the company’s other current projects include a Kids’ Kingdom facility on Trim Road, a pool based physiotherapy fit-out, Barrhaven Honda, as well as several other projects with repeat clients.
Internationally, Mar Gard constructed much of Cuba’s airport buildings in the nineties under Mariani’s leadership. The company continues to do selective design work on projects in Bermuda under Cameron’s direction.
Cameron comes to Mar Gard with experience in systems and IT, in sales and business development, and with a team oriented leadership style. He is past chair of the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences in Cornwall and prior to acquiring Mar Gard, vice president of the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra.
He says he is excited by the quality, experience and commitment that comes with the Mar Gard brand, by the advantages the combined management team has enabled, and by what the future holds.
For more information about Mar Gard, visit margard.ca.