Electrical contractor Steve Stecho, incoming chair of the Grand Valley Construction Association (GVCA), acquired a taste for construction working summers and weekends at his family-owned business.
“When I was a teenager, my grandfather used to take me to jobsites,” recalls Stecho, now president of Waterloo, Ont.-based Harold Stecho Electric Ltd. and Victoria Electric Ltd.
“He’d introduce me to the superintendent and say, ‘this is my grandson Steve, he’s yours for the day.’
“I’d help the painters, I’d clean up drywall scraps. I’d truck around the site with my hardhat on. I really enjoyed it. Construction stuck with me.”
Stecho joined the company full-time in June 1991 — as an apprentice — after completing an electrical engineering technology program at Fanshawe College.
He did so after his father Wayne convinced him to also acquire an electrician’s licence.
“There was no favouritism,” he says. “As an apprentice, I did all the tasks you would expect. I held ladders. I fetched materials. I went and got coffee.”
After completing his apprenticeship, Stecho turned his attention to growing the business that was founded in 1952 beyond its core maintenance field.
“I went out and introduced myself to general contractors and owners,” he says. “I took some estimating courses. I started bidding work and running my jobs.”
Since those days he hasn’t looked back.
The company now provides a full spectrum of electrical services in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential markets. It acquired Victoria Electric in 2012.
Clients have included Google Canada, Blackberry and the University of Waterloo.
In 2014, the company was acquired by Stecho, his brother Mark and Scott Nelson, a long-time employee.
“It’s a good mix,” he says.
Stecho became active in the GVCA about seven years ago after being contacted by fellow electrical contractor Don Gosen, a former association chair who now heads the board of governors of the Ontario College of Trades.
“Don asked if I would be interested in getting more involved in the construction community,” Stecho says.
“I was intrigued. I was looking forward to seeing what was going on in the background.”
Stecho, who succeeds insurance industry executive Jeff Kienapple as GVCA chair, says one of the priorities for his term of office is encouraging high school students to consider careers in construction.
“We want to continue to encourage local school boards and guidance counsellors to let kids know that construction is a viable option,” he says.
An ongoing concern at the GVCA, and one to be addressed again this year, is the matter of incomplete contract documents.
“We are seeing instances of documents being rushed out the door,” Stecho says. “Consultants are scrambling to get addendums out.”
Bill 142, which amended the province’s Construction Lien Act, will be another key focus in 2018.
The legislation, which includes new prompt payment rules, was passed late last year. Changes also modernize the lien and holdback process and set out a new adjudication process to resolve payment disputes faster.
“We will be running some seminars for our members, to let them know what has changed and what hasn’t changed,” he says.
An inaugural seminar was slated to be held Feb. 21 at the GVCA’s offices in Cambridge.
Another topic “on top of everyone’s mind” is the impending legalization of marijuana and its potential impact on the construction industry.
“It’s going to be a big year for the industry,” says Stecho, who also sits on the board of Merit Ontario, an association of open shop contractors.
Outside of industry circles, Stecho is also active in the community.
He is one of the founding members of the TriGator for Kids triathlon, held each June in Elmira, Ont. Proceeds go to Jumpstart, a charity that allows kids to participate in organized sports and recreation activities.
“This is one of the largest kids’ triathlons in Canada,” Stecho says. “The event sells out quickly — last year in under an hour.”
To date more than $400,000 has been raised for Jumpstart.
Stecho assumes office at the GVCA’s annual general meeting Feb. 27 in Kitchener. Also at the event, the association will recognize member firms that have been in business 25 years and induct ACL Steel Ltd. president Paul Seibel into its hall of fame.