Ensuring that the London and District Construction Association (LDCA) remains relevant is top of mind for recently appointed executive director Dave Baxter.
“It has become a cliché to say the world is changing,” says Baxter, the former CEO of Quadro Communications, an independent telecommunications co-operative headquartered north of London.
“But it is. The construction industry is not exempt. Neither is the LDCA.”
Baxter, who replaces Derek Smith as executive director and who brings to the position a broadly based background in management, notes that the roster of products and services being offered by construction associations these days is in a state of flux.
“In the past, the electronic plans room contained tenders for projects for our local and surrounding area customers,” he says by way of example. “Today, customers and bidders from across the country and around the world are posting and bidding on jobs.
“These customers are looking for the worldwide database coupled with the local customer service they get from the LDCA and other local construction associations. The one-stop shop is needed. Portals such as www.bestbidz.ca are a great example of this.”
Baxter, who in the 1980s operated a couple of small construction businesses in the Ottawa area, says joining the LDCA affords him an opportunity to pursue his interest in the construction sector and utilize his digital-based manufacturing skills “in support of enhancing a digital-based construction environment.
“I have always had a great interest in construction, heavy equipment and architecture,” he says.
“In another life, I would have probably taken the architecture stream in school instead of the computer stream.”
Baxter studied business administration, with a computer major and an accounting minor at Ryerson. He graduated in 1972.
In the 1990s, Baxter became heavily involved in factory automation technology through his work with what was then Allen-Bradley (now Rockwell Automation) in Cambridge, Ont.
“Factory automation does not work without a digital database of drawings and specifications, so there was a heavy reliance on CAD technology,” he says.
“In the 1990s, CAD was largely unheard of in the medium-sized manufacturing sector.
“Thanks to the support of Allen-Bradley’s president Bill Hetherington, we were able to change this. “
At one juncture, Baxter was seconded for a two-year period to the Ontario Centre for Advanced Manufacturing to get the Ontario CAD/CAM Centre in Cambridge off the ground.
“From this, I ended up touring all over the world as a speaker for IBM and Digital Equipment Corp., then a huge player, explaining the benefits of digital-based manufacturing. These were good times combining many of my interests.”
At the LDCA, Baxter is intent on building on the history and strengths of the association as he settles into his new position.
“My priority is to understand the value proposition that the LDCA offers its members,” he says.
“We need to remain relevant.”
The association celebrated its 114th anniversary in 2012 and it currently represents about 575 companies engaged in ICI construction.