Publisher’s viewpoint: Going the distance

One day cycling fundraiser for patient care and research at The Ottawa Hospital 2018

Publisher, Ottawa Construction News

I’m writing this note a couple of days after completing a 340 km return bicycle trip between Ottawa and Kingston. The idea of taking such a long journey fuelled by snacks and sandwiches may seem a bit crazy, but the Ottawa Bicycle Club has been doing it for 50 years. The organizers had to reschedule the tour originally scheduled for early June because of the Quebec forest fire smoke.

I certainly didn’t break speed records, but (especially on the first day), managed to keep pace. Even with an overnight rest at Queen’s University and much better weather for the second day, the return proved to be more challenging. But, with a day’s rest, I’m ready to resume more normal riding (about 30 to 60 km each day when the weather is half-decent.)

This cycling story may not have much to do with construction, but my engagement with the activity is entirely related to the industry, since Robert Merkley of Merkley Supply Ltd. encouraged me about 12 years ago me to participate in an 110 km fund-raising cycling event for research at The Ottawa Hospital. The annual Ride ended a couple of years ago, but my progression as a cyclist – from an ancient 10-speed I had purchased used when I arrived in Ottawa in 1982, to a $10,000 carbon fibre endurance bicycle – has been ongoing.

There is research that cyclists live longer than non-cyclists; though I don’t know whether this variation simply occurs because you have to be healthy enough in the first place to take on serious cycling challenges. However, the exercise certainly has value for cardiovascular health and it has probably kept diabetes at bay.

As the fall approaches, I may be arriving at the final year of full-time employment before beginning a transition to active retirement. The vision is for me to sell the business to the company’s competent employees; while remaining engaged as a consultant (and for several years) as the continuing owner of the enterprise’s affiliated US business.

Succession planning and business continuity require plenty of thought, planning, co-ordination and professional advice. The company’s lawyers and accountants are working with me to make the whole thing happen. The employee ownership model has many advantages; it should provide a tax-advantaged retirement income to me, while giving the employees the autonomy and authority to take the business forward – and enjoy similar retirement income/tax advantages when it is time for them to transfer the business to the next generation.

Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies, which publishes Ottawa Construction News. He can be reached at


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