New GCAO president Russell Grass Jr. outlines association priorities at AGM


Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Russell Grass Jr., a partner and senior estimator at Waterdon Construction Ltd., has taken the helm as the General Contractors Association of Ottawa (GCAO)’s 2017 president.

Grass, who in 2017 had responsibility for the GCAO’s most sensitive portfolio – the tendering practices committee – assumes the leadership from Tim Pruner of M. Sullivan & Son Ltd., who continues on the board as past-president.

“As we leave 2017 and enter 2018 we reflect on the previous year and see what if any new trends are evolving in our industry,” Grass said in his introductory speech at the GCAO annual general meeting on Jan. 24.  “Over the past year, we were still battling with owners over post qualifications, we were seeing more buyers downloading their in-house project management teams to project firms, and we have noticed some buyers have been continuing to insert questionable supplementary general conditions (SGC)s into their contracts.

“Our association spends a great deal of time and effort enforcing fair tendering practices,” Grass said. “Over the past year, one of our main focuses was on the continued decrease in change order markups. This includes the inclusion of change order markup caps, the inclusion of change order related general conditions that were once chargeable but are now to be included int he standard change order market, and the lack of owner’s project managers knowledge and ability to implement their own controls.”

“As an association, we must continue to standup for our industry and push back on the owners and buyers to mitigate an industry standard of poor markups and devaluing of our services. Our members work in a riskier industry than most and we must ensure that we are allowing the appropriate fees to ensure that our industry continues to be sustainable.”

In his incoming printed remarks, Grass raises an issue that has challenged the GCAO for several years since the retirement several years ago of Don Chutter as its executive director. The association continues to look for leadership from an individual who understands  industry practices and can provide a “constant voice providing a line of separation from our board members and the buyers/owners who can effectively communicate our association issues and concerns.”

“If you are interested in this important role, please contact myself for further discussions,” Grass writes. (Chutter, while aged in his 90s, is still in good health and attended the AGM.)

“My goal for our 2018 board is to continue to work with buyers regarding tendering practices,” Grass said. “We will work to foster relationships with the large construction buyers so we can demonstrate the benefit of reviewing policy changes and clauses with our association before they release revised tender documents. If we continue to lead and be a positive source of education in industry standards, owners and buyers will be compelled to communicate with the GCAO.”

At the meeting, treasurer Chris Fournier reported the GCAO’s accounts are in good order, with a $10,085 surplus after receiving a HST refund correcting a $5,656.91 filing error. The association has $90,348.21 in equity.

GCAO’s membership of 61 firms has increased by one from 2016.

In addition to Pruner and Grass, other 2018 directors and executive members include:

First vice-president: Chris Fournier, McDonald Bros. Construction – First vice-president

Second vice-president: Yves Beaudoin, Jumec Construction

Directors: Josh Hornung, Ruiter Construction Ltd.; Bruce Norman, PCL Constructors Canada Inc.;  Shawn Berube, R.E. Hein Construction (Ontario); and Troy Gaudet, Ellis-Don Construction.


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