March 6, 2013
Incoming CCA chair brings years of experience to new role
For incoming Canadian Construction Association (CCA) chair Frank Rizzardo, the entrepreneurial and community-minded president and general manager of Emcon Services Inc. of Merritt, B.C., participating in association activities has proven to be a rewarding experience.
“Most of my career has been on the horizontal side of the business,” said Rizzardo, who became a CCA director in 2002 and subsequently chaired the roadbuilders’ council from 2006 to 2008.
He has sat on several committees as well.
“But at CCA, I have been exposed to a broader cross-section of construction. I’ve gotten to understand those guys a bit better. I’ve found that some of the issues they’re facing are exactly the same as ours. They’re just framed differently.”
Rizzardo, who recently completed an extended term as a director of the B.C. Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association and is a past chair of the Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association, has also been active at the international level in the roadbuilding community.
He has served on several technical committees at the World Road Association, an organization that brings together road administrations of 120 governments and has members in more than 140 countries.
“You get to see what the rest of the world is doing,” Rizzardo said.
“You don’t ever want to think that you are the most enlightened person in the world. There are other people out there doing interesting things as well.”
Rizzardo, who also sat on the board of the Transportation Association of Canada, got his start in the roadbuilding industry after graduating from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in 1973.
He majored in civil and structural engineering and highway design.
He launched his career at the province’s Ministry of Transportation in North Vancouver, initially doing highway design under the guidance of senior ministry staff.
He later relocated to Victoria, where he became involved in long-range planning for roads that were 15 or 20 years in the future.
“I had to swear an oath of secrecy because of the potential for real estate booms in some of the locations,” Rizzardo recalled.
At one juncture, he worked on an alignment for a section of the Coquihalla Highway.
He later gained operations experience in various centres across the province.
In 1988, Rizzardo moved into the private sector after the provincial government decided to outsource highway maintenance.
“The ministry encouraged managers to consider exiting,” he recalls.
“There were eight of us at the time that did that. They either started companies or partnered with existing companies or led existing companies.
“Those guys all succeeded. While a number of them have since retired, the companies they started still exist.”
Rizzardo set up Emcon in partnership with Glenn Walsh, a contractor who brought complementary business skills to the table.
Emcon now is comprised of a group of companies that specialize in highway maintenance, paving, bridge construction and equipment hauling. It also is involved in other activities, including real estate development.
“Many of the people who started with us are still with us today,” Rizzardo said.
Emcon was the first contractor in the province to partner with the Transportation Ministry on installation of automated road weather station information stations.
The company has continued to partner on installation of cameras for remote sites.
The company has also developed a unique bridge lift system for ballast wall and cap replacement of timber structures.
It is one of a select number of companies that provides under-bridge inspection services to private contractors, municipalities and engineering companies in the province.
Despite his busy schedule, Rizzardo still finds time to serve the community in various capacities.
He can be seen cooking eggs for the local Rotary pancake breakfast, working on Rotary Park projects, manning the counter at the Merritt Centennials hockey club booster booth, moderating public forums and even having his head shaved in support of cancer research.
“We have raised four boys in the community,” he said.
“The community has helped us raise those kids. The groups in which I participate have made their growing-up years very positive. You can’t just live in this world and not give back.”
At the international level, Rizzardo is particularly proud of a Rotary initiative that involved donating a well to a community in Africa.
“We changed the lives of 1,200 people with that well,” he said.
Rizzardo succeeds John Schubert, president of McCaine Electrical Ltd. as chair of the CCA, which represents more than 17,000 companies.
The association is holding its annual conference this week in La Malbaie, Que.
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