As the Barrie Construction Association (BCA) ushers in a new era, it promises a future of fun and gains. “This is a very exciting time here at the BCA,” says new administrative director Alison Smith. “We have two new staff members and, as of last week, a new board of directors.” Although Smith started with the BCA more than a year ago, she took over the top staff position eight months ago after Barb Rousseau vacated the position. Rousseau, who saw the organization through its start-up and expansion, was the BCA executive director for 17 years. Now settled into her new position, Smith’s mandate is to re-evaluate the varying functions of the association and position it for future growth. Smith says her goal is to run the office professionally and make sure “we fulfill the members’ needs,” says Smith. A primary focus is the plans room. It’s to everyone’s benefit to have the drawings of as many projects as possible available to BCA members, Smith explains. She and her staff seek project plans out from architects, they check relevant websites, and read the Daily Commercial News to find out about upcoming projects. Then they bring the plans in and put then on display. Scanned versions are added to the electric database, which members can have access to. “Architects want us to have the drawings,” says Smith. “Then their clients have more people looking at them and offering more competitive pricing. “We send out an email bulletin every Wednesday detailing what plans we have on display, who the architect is and when the tender’s closing.” Once plans are in the office, another main BCA service provided to members is printing off copies using the high-tech large-format printers on site. This is an ongoing project that has working well. “The first thing I changed (as we were approaching the membership campaign) was to talk to those members who could offer discounts to other members,” she recalls, reporting about a 30 per cent participation rate. “I didn’t want to just send out the invoice. Instead, they were sent an incentive package as well.” Member retention has been identified as a priority, as has new memberships. There are currently 370 BCA members. “The board, the staff and I are eager to implement changes that will streamline the way members do business here every day,” Smith says. “We will be introducing new and innovative networking opportunities and we will continue to focus our concentrated efforts on issues that affect the construction industry as a whole.” Another new initiative she is implementing is taking a look at the event schedule and re-examined each entry based on its past success. “Curling is gone,” Smith says as an example. “Every year it was harder and harder to get full sets of teams.” The Valentine Gala was also cancelled due to poor ticket sales. But the monthly dinner meetings have been re-instated, and the two highly successful annual golf tournaments are back. “We’re also keeping the Christmas gala,” she says of the popular Tangle Creek festivities. “This time we joined in with the home-builders’ association and it was met with overwhelming approval.” And while the Dragon Boat team has been scrapped, the hockey tournament remains popular. A new motorcycle fundraising ride is scheduled for May, as a result of past-president Scott Ward’s suggestion. Smith also garnered sponsorship for this year’s annual members’ appreciation barbeque and, for the first time, the event didn’t hit the bottom line in a significant manner. Doug Calow of Robitaille & Calow Financial generously sponsored the food, she said. The BCA is also a lobby group that works at all levels of government on behalf of its membership. Last year, Scott and then-vice president Anita Stacey worked directly with the City of Barrie to streamline the site-plan process that previously took months to complete. “We met once a week for 12 weeks and mapped out a whole process,” recalls Stacey of the successful collaboration. “Everyone really enjoyed the process.” The lobbying doesn’t just stop at city hall. Courtesy of the BCA’s membership in the Council of Ontario Construction Association (COCA), and the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), local members get a team of experts supporting them at the provincial and national level as well. This is especially important when there are issues in front of legislators that can have a significant impact on the industry. Bill 119, for example, is a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)-inspired legislation that will prove expensive to construction companies if implemented (please see sidebar). “As an association, we really have to talk to the members to see what we can do to help them,” says Stacey. For more information, visit www.barrieca.com.