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What’s keeping EllisDon CEO Geoff Smith up at night?

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March 13, 2012 by Corinne Lynds

What’s keeping EllisDon CEO Geoff Smith up at night?

Part of a discussion panel at the 94th annual Canadian Construction Association conference in Savannah, Ga., Geoff Smith CEO of EllisDon identified several key issues that are “scaring the sh– out of him!”

Great consolidation is coming…
“We all know that great consolidation is here. From the general contractor’s point of view, or mine anyway. There are way too many general contractors in the world. And there are going to be significantly fewer five years from now.”

“If you want to stay in the game, you’ve got to pick up your game. The Europeans are here, and they have much broader capabilities than we do in Canada. They are huge, it’s a threat to me, it’s a threat to all of us in the way we do business. They do cradle to grave, they do project finance. These are very capable companies.”

“As far as the Americans go, we don’t see them as a whole lot different than us, but they market way more than we do.”

“And the Chinese are coming… these guys are low cost.”

Labour laws are out of date…
“We’ve got labour relation laws across the country that were drafted in the 70s for a world that existed in the 60s. They’re completely out of date.”

Don’t ignore technology…
How do people communicate?
Smith uses the example of a press release EllisDon recently circulated:

“How many newspaper articles do you think we got because of that press release? You know the answer is none. How many people did we get to our website? Guess what? The answer was none, no one came to our website. How many hits do you think we got to our Facebook page?—now remember this is in 48 hours—the answer is about 500. How many times was that press release Tweeted and re-Tweeted? The answer was 11,000.”

“What does this mean for us? And this is not just about press releases, it’s about the way we’re communicating and marketing… It’s changing all the time. I don’t have a friggin’ clue, but I know this is important. If you’re one of these people that think this Twitter stuff is stupid, good for you. I don’t actually Tweet, mostly because I don’t know how to do it effectively. But I’m telling you, we better not be ignoring this stuff. Twitter is a business application. It’s not your kids [toy].”

Fostering better leadership…
“This may be a little esoteric, but I think we need to redefine the way we run our companies. I don’t think anybody gets out of bed in the morning thinking ‘Gee, I’m off to maximize shareholder value and I’m going off to make my boss to look good.’ We all think we’re the leaders in here… We need job descriptions, we need systems, we need competence, we need deliverables. You know what? The people that work for us and with us, they don’t think that way. I’m going to suggest to you that in the new world, when we talk about shortages in skills, we need to turn that whole leadership thing upside down. We need to make leaders out of the people who work for us. We need to trust them to get out there and do it.”

Geoff Smith presented at a session entitled, The Changing Face of Construction: How to Adapt? Also on the panel were: Al Miller with Canem Systems Ltd. and Stephen Damp with EllisDon.

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