Regional Business News
regarding the 2010 Olympics
in British Columbia, Canada
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especially in Vancouver / Whistler and throughout B.C. We also
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Originally published July 1, 2004
John Furlong - CEO Cheerleader
Furlong, CEO VANOC gave a rousing keynote address at an all day conference
hosted by law firm Singleton
Urquhart at the Sutton Place Hotel on April 2, 2004. He spoke of how
important it would be for the construction industry to start on time and
stay on schedule.
Other panelists included Jim Mitchell Vice President of Capital Projects
Inc. (check out the splash page of their website), David Thom, Managing
Director, IBI Group,
Richard Fyfe, Director, Partnerships
BC, Alan Hartley, Director and Principal, Stantec,
Maria D'Archangelo, LLB, Ministry
of the Attorney General, Derek Holloway, Senior VP, Encon
Group, George Haddow, Manager, BC
Hydro and a host of Singleton lawyers led by John Singleton, QC, Partner,
The conference referred often to issues of Risk Management. Many of the
lawyers and insurance companies spoke in detail about the importance of
negotiating and executing Olympic construction proposals that were accurate
and realistic. The overriding theme throughout the day was to treat Olympic
construction contracts with special consideration.
John Singleton drove the point home succinctly when he cautioned the room
that they would have billions of people around the world watching as we
built the Olympics and that reputations could be irreparably harmed if
schedules and cost overages spiraled out of control.
Furlong played heavily on our sense of pride when he told the room full
of engineers, architects and developers that if the sport facilities were
in operation a couple of years before 2010, it would give Canadian athletes
an opportunity to train in the facilities, which could in turn produce
more gold medals for Canada. Hometown advantage counts!
In one respect it was great to hear Furlong support Canadian athletes.
He spoke like a loyal, dedicated sports leader and coach, but as a business
person I would have also liked to hear him say that having the facilities
open early would give the region an opportunity to lease time to foreign
athletes. Revenue generated could counter potential overage costs that
in other Olympic regions have ultimately been born by taxpayers. Salt
Lake City taxpayers footed overages of $400 million. There's a legacy.
Revenue generated from renting facilities in the GVRD to foreign athletes
could be sizable, certainly not in the magnitude of a summer event like
Sydney, but it's also important to consider supplementary revenues generated
by small and midsize businesses who could provide secondary services and
products to athletes and their support teams while they train. Furlong
made it clear the 'sport' part of the Olympics were his primary concern,
but for many in the room though there were more important business issues
To his credit, Furlong worked the construction crowd well and got everyone
thinking hard about their responsibility. At the end of his presentation
he took questions from the audience. I asked him if he thought that reputation
played a role and if dealing with the media was going to be an important
consideration. I framed the question using his personal experience by
referring to the unfair criticism he's received from the press over the
last few weeks. News articles had us questioning his capabilities even
before he made the cut. After hearing John speak I had a completely different
regard for the man.
Can he do it? Yeah, no problem, as long as he represents everyone equally
including small and mid size business.
When I inadvertently put him on the spot by asking how he felt about being
treated unfairly by media, he said he's been so busy he hasn't had time
to read the paper. The crowd were with him and roared with laughter, which
by the way was the only laugh I heard in that very serious room all day.
You won me over that morning John and you'll have my continued support
- as long as you remember to represent small and midsize business in the
run to the Games.
Based on my perception of John Furlong through the media I had serious
concerns about whether he could go the distance. Once I heard and saw
him in action my fears were eased a bit. As long as he surrounds himself
with capable executives, including those who understand the challenges
of operating small and midsize businesses . . . I think he'll do a great
job. If not, he's in for a very difficult time.
*Ed. Note: We invested over three years and a six-figure budget researching
Olympic organization relationships with sponsors, contractors, suppliers,
partners, etc. The results surprised us too -- mouseover below
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Learn more about the challenges small
Olympic organizations are
BIG BUSINESS MACHINES that attract corporations like Kodak,
CocaCola, McDonald's, Wal*Mart, etc. Consequently, VANOC (Vancouver
Organizing Committee) will be stretched thin trying to also develop ways
to assist small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum. Surprisingly,
many people don't realize the event can also be lucrative for smaller
businesses including agriculture, manufacturers, entertainment, technology,
retail & obviously tourism, even when they don't have products
or services that appeal to Olympic fans or serve a direct Olympic need.
The information we share here is invaluable in helping
small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum.
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