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Inaugural Webinar Series

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This past Wednesday, September 9, 2020, the OGCA launched its inaugural webinar in what, it hopes, will be a lengthy series of information-providing discussions. The topic was poignant and spoke directly to the current situation all OGCA contractors are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, the OGCA hosted a webinar? What makes this any different than all the other countless webinars out there???

There are multiple organizations vying for contractors’ attention with information and advice. The difference is that very few organizations are speaking directly to the needs of the general contractors and, more appropriately, in their language.

The webinar was aptly titled: Navigating Contracts/Bonding & Risk Relationships Post COVID-19: What Construction Companies must do Differently to Remain Profitable.

It was geared to deal with the salient issues that contractors have tabled to the OGCA of late, and on issues that can have an incredibly large impact on a contractor’s bottom line.

Construction contracts and bonding have both been the focus of most buyers of construction and hence, when they table amendments or alterations that deviate from the norm, OGCA members ask for assistance and clarity. Each topic, if not dealt with properly, can have disastrous effects on contractors, and in turn, on our sector as a whole.

So, the OGCA decided to ask the difficult questions and luckily, we have some incredible partners to turn to for clarity and direction.

Although the webinar was hosted by the OGCA, the true heroes in this situation were the panelists who participated. They were the attraction and were “hands down” experts in their fields. The OGCA is incredibly fortunate to have two of our longest standing members from the Associate Partners Program (APP) come to the table with priceless advice.

Our panelists consisted of Jason Annibale and Geza Banfai from McMillan LLP, and Steven Gava and Gary Rodrigues from Marsh Canada who provided sage advice for our contracts in how to properly navigate our current and unprecedented situation.

I welcome all of our members that did not have the opportunity to participate in the live webinar, to visit the OGCA website in the next week to view the webinar in its entirety.

So, with such an auspicious group of panelists, and a topic that speaks to contractors directly, what was the ultimate advice that came out of the session?

Each of our panelists provided individualized advice and direction.

Jason Annibale’s closing statement truly embodied his entire presentation. He noted that all contractors needed to “be very mindful of the contracts that you enter and how risk is allocated, particularly in relation to force majeure, and don’t start working until your contact is made.”

Geza Banfai was direct, and his message was clear that as contractors, “you’ve got lots of people out there who want to help you. Take advantage of the expertise that’s available to you, it’s money well spent. Not just lawyers but your surety partners. Calling early instead of calling late will pay dividends.”

Steven Gava noted that from the surety side of the business, “communication is key and transparency is key. Communicating the right things and working on those internal controls, such as financial metrics or financial reporting, is key.”

He continued that contractors need to “be able to take financial snapshots of the business at any given time and properly understand what is going on within the business, but then also sit in front of your creditors and navigate and effectively communicate those things is going to be huge.”

Steven concluded that, “without saying with certainty, as long as there is success and there is good and valid communication in regards to the financial metrics, a surety will at least instill confidence in you and continue to bond those clients that they have through the present time and what they foresee of the future.”

And lastly, Gary Rodrigues concluded the comments by noting that he hears from many small, medium and larger contractors that “liquidity is such an important issue and the most important take away is not to treat this time as a problem, so much as it is an opportunity.”

“Look with optimism at what lies ahead, and when things open up, I believe that infrastructure is going to boom and this will create a lot of opportunities. Those that don’t lose track of the big picture today and position themselves for that are going to be the ones that are going to benefit the most. Let’s get ready for it and use data driven inputs to help catalyze and drive us forward.”

The OGCA is incredibly fortunate to have industry partners that not only understand ICI construction and the current situation, but also want to see our OGCA general contractors succeed.

The OGCA recommends that our members ask the difficult questions from the OGCA, legal counsels, and each respective contractor’s surety provider, and include them in the discussion. We are all here to provide guidance and to assist.

Remember that a dollar spent initially can translate into hundreds or thousands on the backend. So, it is important to deal with issues early, before they become insurmountable problems.

The OGCA welcomes any webinar suggestions from our membership that are pertinent and important to our contractors.

Should you have any suggestions for upcoming OGCA webinars or require assistance from the OGCA, please contact me directly at giovanni@ogca.ca or via phone at 905.671.3969.


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