Pipe Line Contractors Association Of Canada Holds 56th Annual Convention In St. John’s, Newfoundland

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by Oliver Klinger, Publisher

Roughly 280 delegates braved the weather and travel to attend the 56th annual meeting held at the Sheraton in St. John’s Newfoundland. There were representatives present from 16 regular and 46 associate member firms, plus the pipeline craft unions and various guests including several past presidents. At the end of 2009 the association had 34 regular members and 66 associates.
  One of the convention highlights was the golf tournament which was played in near tropical storm conditions. Many participants shamefully left after the first few holes, but a significant number of brave souls battled the wind and drenching rain to finish.
  Presiding over this year’s meeting was association president, Terrance McKibbon of Aecon Infrastructure Group. In his remarks he noted that the association added five new Associate Members, including: Beard Oil Pipeline Petroleum of Mt. Pleasant, MI; CNH Construction Equipment of Racine, WI; Korpan Tractor and Parts of Saskatoon, SK; McLaughlin Group Inc. of Greenville, SC; and Volvo Construction Equipment of Asheville, NC.
  McKibbon remarked that “two years ago at our convention in Hawaii, our president that year, Mike Prior, told the assembled delegates that he felt we would have a busy couple of years ahead, and that there would be some interesting challenges for both us and our clients. His forecast was right on the mark.
  “Our gas distribution contractor members have been enjoying levels of work that have not been seen before, not only in the traditional market area of southern Ontario, but also in Alberta. The volume of work on mainline construction in Canada had not been seen for over thirty years.”
  McKibbon continued, “In 2009 PLCAC Members reported a total of 6.7 million man-hours worked on mainline and distribution pipeline projects in Canada. This was down a bit from the 7.1 million worked in 2008. The members installing gas distribution systems worked 1.73 million man-hours during 2009, also very slightly lower than 2008. On the mainline construction side, we worked just under 5 million man-hours. Last year we reported that the 5.2 million hours worked in 2008 was the second highest recorded number of man-hours ever worked in the history of our Association, so you can see we came close to matching that in 2009.
  “For the PLCAC contractors, during this heavy work load, safety has remained paramount. As you will see tomorrow, when we give out the awards for safety performance, 2009 was an excellent example of contractors working safely. Our clients are determined to provide a safe working environment for all of the workers employed by all contractors  and we have responded well to this requirement.
  “One of the challenges we faced over the past two years was the manpower shortage. We managed to overcome this, but it took a lot of training by the Local Union training schools and  on the job training by contractors. For the past two years we, together with the four unions, held a very successful training school at the Operating Engineers Local 955 site north of Edmonton  where a full mainline pipeline spread was simulated, which offered a very realistic setting for the students.
  “This year our focus has been on attracting new workers to our industry. Pipeline construction is  exciting and on-the-leading edge of the technology sector. It offers rewarding opportunities, accompanied by choice and flexibility. Over the next few years upwards of 25% of the current pipeline workforce will be retiring and we will need to compete aggressively for any potential new labor with other industries. In order to address this workforce deficit, the Pipe Line Contractors Association of Canada has partnered with the four pipeline craft unions and the Government of Alberta on an initiative known as the Pipeline Workforce Attraction Project.
  “The project includes various media tools to help support persons who are investigating a craft skill or trade in mainline pipeline construction. One of the tools is a series of career exploration videos produced in DVD format. A copy of the DVD was included in the delegate bag you received at registration. Please take the time to view the videos and perhaps think about someone who might be a candidate for our pipeline industry. The videos can also be viewed at the www.pipeline.ca Career section.”
  McKibbon noted that over the past year PLCAC had lost honorary member and past president Bill Gant, who was president of
H. C. Price of Canada for many years. Gant also served twice as president of the Association in 1963 and again in 1970, and was inducted as an honorary member in 1989.
  “We also lost Lorne Stoppler, known to many of you here,” he said. “Stoppler began his pipeline career at a young age as a pipeline welder and worked in the pipeline industry in U.S .and Canada as a founder and owner of various pipeline construction contracting firms until his death in December 2009. Also, Pete Wiebe, long-time employee of Marine Pipeline Construction of Canada, died in November 2009.”
  Other speakers included the former Premier of Newfoundland, the Honorable Brian Tobin and General Rick Hillier who is Chief of Defence Staff, the Canadian Forces’ top-ranking position. He was also Commander of the 6,000 allied soldiers in Kabul in 2003 and served as the first Canadian Deputy Commanding General of III Corps, U.S. Army, in Ft. Hood, TX.

New Officers and Directors
The association’s executive committee will include new officers elected at this year’s meeting, including: President Kevin Waschuk, vice president, Waschuk Pipeline Construction, Ltd.; 1st Vice President, Nick de Koning, president, Robert B. Somerville Co. Limited; 2nd Vice President, David L. Kavanaugh, president, O.J. Pipelines Canada; Treasurer Rick Delaney, president, The Link-Line Group of Companies; Executive Director Barry L. Brown, and  Terrance L. McKibbon, CEO, Aecon Infrastructure Group is the immediate past president.
  Directors include : Don Cusack, vice president Marketing, Premay Pipeline Hauling L.P.; Dave Douglas, manager of Canadian Pipeline Division, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (Canada) Ltd.; David Johnstone, president, T.W. Johnstone Company Limited; Bernie Lailey, national pipeline manager,  Acklands-Grainger, Inc.; Mike Prior, vice president and general manager, Michels Canada; and Ted Shipka, president, Triple Random, Inc.

Safety Awards
Winner of this past year’s James L. Abraham Pipeline Construction Safety Award in the mainline category was the Techint-Somerville Joint Venture. In the distribution category the winner was Link-Line Contractors Ltd. The specialty contractor – transportation category was awarded to Premay Pipeline Hauling L.P. The specialty contractor (other, over 20,000 hours) – pipeline construction was awarded to Summit Pipeline Services Ltd. and the specialty contractor (other, under 20,000 hours)-pipeline construction award went to Michels Canada. 
  This year’s recipient of the Jack Cressey Future Leader Award went to Dustin Medori of Academy Construction & Maintenance Ltd. This award recognizes leadership and is open to all Association members’ employees who have not yet attained executive status in their company.
  The 2011 annual convention will take place at the Hyatt Regency Maui in Lahaina, Hawaii from April 11-15, 2011. The 2012 meeting is scheduled for Whistler, BC from June 3-8.