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CURRENT NEWS: Keith Sashawa - VRCA

Keith SashawIn the next few years leading up to 2010, Keith Sashaw may have more riding on his shoulders than VANOC CEO John Furlong. Furlong is charged with creating a plan for 2010, but Sashaw, President of the Vancouver Region Construction Association (VRCA) organizes a big part of the construction workforce who will have to implement it.

No small feat.


From an economic perspective, Keith reminded me a while ago at the Buildex show that there are a number of other regional projects much larger than all of the Olympic mandates put together. The Port Authority and RAV are just two construction behemoths that will tap out not only the workforce, but also the supply of raw materials like steel, copper and concrete.

The skilled trades shortage is just the tip of the iceberg for Sashaw, but just look to Athens if you want to get a feel for how serious labour problems can be for the Olympics. Labour problems in Greece have caused countless bottlenecks including strikes and slow downs that crippled progress. In early April the IOC announced that the roof over the swimming pool will not be in place. They decided to scrap the plan and do the best they could to reschedule swimming events so athletes won't have to compete in searing summer temperatures. Unlike Vancouver, it can get very hot under a Greek sun. The main concern is that water temperature will increase substantially which will seriously affect athletic performance.

The swimming pool is only one challenge in Athens, 150 days before the event, which is scheduled to kick off August 13, more than half the venues still have to be finished. This is hard on not only construction company reputations, but also for the athletes and all the businesses counting on a smooth operation. In comparison, Sydney in 2000 had their facilities in operation 2 years earlier in 1998 and made $17 million dollars renting space to foreign athletes who wanted to train in Australia, plus another $53 million that went to small and midsize businesses who supplied products and services for the athletes and support teams while they were training. Read more about Athens here. If you're interested in how incredibly well SMBs (small and mid size business) did in Sydney click here.

There is more to the Olympics than just sporting events. If businesses in Olympic regions have to absorb increased costs of doing business as a result of higher taxes, congested roads, complex municipal and security regulations, etc., they have to be able to recoup their losses. The best way to do it is through promotional trade strategies which only work when the system works. We are all counting on construction executives like Keith Sashaw to come through for us and get the Olympics off to a positive start.

Everyone has an opinion regarding how to best build facilities for the Olympics, including the Independent Contractors and Business Association of Canada (ICBA). The ICBA sent a strong message to the construction industry warning them of the dangers of being held hostage by unions in regard to Olympic projects. They also had a list of suggestions on their website for open shops to adopt in order to ensure that Olympic projects go as smoothly as possible. One of their suggestions though of importing skilled workers from other Canadian jurisdictions might not be too realistic considering that many regions across Canada are also experiencing busy construction phases, but they do offer other advice that has a lot of merit, like the following;

"Early and well-sequenced tendering of contracts, setting realistic schedules, limiting contract risk through precise plans and drawings and establishing incentives for meeting project targets are just a few of the approaches that should be adopted to encourage the greatest number of qualified bidders to submit competitive bids for Olympic projects."

If you have Adobe Acrobat click this PDF file
to read more from the ICBA . . .


*Ed. Note: We invested ovre 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 and midsize
businesses face. Leverage Olympic Momentum

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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