Since being incorporated in 1932, the Regina Construction Association has played a strong role in the local construction industry, supporting its members by providing technology, education and industry-related services. It was founded to satisfy a “need to have a common voice,” says Executive Director Brenda Braaten.
The association is an effective service provider that is highly used as a source of industry information and expertise for construction in the city and area. Its mission is to support its 400 members in the ICI sector (Institutional, Commercial and Industrial) by creating and fostering a prosperous, safe and professional working environment.
Braaten has been with the association for 26 years. She started out serving as an executive assistant, before eventually working her way up to the Executive Director position when it become available.
One of the functions of the RCA is to lobby municipal governments and industry stakeholders at all levels. Braaten says it is to their benefit that the organization has a great working relationship with the City of Regina, and that there are many instances of the association and the city coming together to create industry solutions. “One significant issue was the front end of their general conditions, which was fairly onerous,” Braaten recalls. “And because it was so onerous, it was very difficult for bidders to get their bids in without having an error at some place in that submission process.”
“Through discussions with the city and their willingness to form a task force, we were able to get the front end reformed,” Braaten continues. “It resulted in a very significant decrease in the number of rejected tenders due to small, negligible errors.”
As part of this same collaboration, the RCA worked alongside the local government and representatives from the design profession to streamline tender documents, because the group saw right away where improvements could be made. “The initial meetings were intended to address one particular area, but by the time the three-way discussions took place, the group, thorough and engaged and collaborative process, was able to work together to get the general conditions down to far less onerous format.”
From an environmental and sustainability perspective, the RCA partners with the Canadian Construction Association and the Canadian Green Building Council to offer numerous educational courses and classes. “We’ve have established a curriculum to deliver a two-day LEED certified course called Contractor’s Toolbox. This course is well received by the industry as it is based on material relevant from the contractor and supplier perspective,” Braaten says.
The RCA is well aware that skilled labour shortages are a challenge in the industry right now – it is a priority in the RCA Board of Directors 2012 strategic plan review that was recently completed. As part of that plan, the RCA is seeking to address this challenge. “How I look at it from an association perspective is that it is an exact fit for what we can do for the industry in Regina and in Saskatchewan,” she says. “One of our main objectives as far as our Education Information Centre mandate is to help owners to position themselves to become more attractive to new people to come into the industry. This takes place through evolution and growth toward a mentoring culture and improved operations and HR policies.”
As for what looms on the horizon for the RCA, the organization sees this as a time of evolution for its members and the industry as a whole. The economy, for example, has given them a reason to be energized, Braaten noted. “The dynamics of an industry like construction is that we are already in an environment where we react to situations quickly and adapt,” she says. “The future is looking really good for this area. We just continue to see more and more people arriving in the province because we’re the ‘it’ place. It is a very business friendly climate we’re in right now.”
The organization is also looking to engage purchasers of construction services to procurement opportunities through its association’s online plan rooms. This “gateway” for owners to post their construction procurement opportunities with the association provides an online portal to consolidate construction bidding opportunities for the 1200 member companies in Saskatchewan.
There is also a national online portal called Link2Build that consolidates plan room data from Canada’s local construction association. That portal allows for access to data on more than 20,000 projects nationally. To sum up, Braaten says, “The association offers a host of construction information services that benefit all stakeholders. These include pre-bid reports, current tender opportunities, national tender opportunities and post tender low and award reports. It is all about adding value for our member companies.”
Looking ahead long-term, the RCA would like to see continued growth in the industry – both within the development of hosting private project tender opportunities, as well as growing its external partnerships. “In an economy that’s growing and looking optimistic, I think that’s what will come as we grow – more private development and more entrepreneurs that will sustain our industry into the future.”