CBJ Onsite – Construct Canada


This year’s Construct Canada expo was by all accounts a tremendous success. With an estimated 23,000 plus visitors, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre was the place to be from December 1-3 if you are in the Canadian construction industry. Construct Canada, managed by MMPI Canada, is a trade exposition and conference held concurrently with PM Expo, Concrete Canada, DesignTrends, and HomeBuilder & Renovator Expo. According to the organizer, the show is “Canada’s largest annual exposition of products, services, technologies, and systems used for the design construction, retrofit, and renovation of all forms of buildings-commercial, high-rise, residential, industrial, retail, and institutional.” And by the looks of things, the show definitely covered all aspects of the construction business.

A tremendous turn-out

For many attendees, the event is purely a networking opportunity. For others, specifically exhibitors, it was a chance to showcase new products, green products, or highlight those tried-and-true products that the industry has come to know and trust. The event also hosts demonstrations, educational presentations and opportunities to make deals—with over 450 speakers and more than 1,000 exhibits.

Skill-building sessions were held at the conference with various topics of focus, along with the ability for attendees to reach out to experts to learn about issues from project management to business profitability. Construct Canada features the country’s largest seminar program for builders, contractors and related services.

Architects were also represented at the international architectural roundtable, which included three highly regarded architects talking about trends in architecture and what the industry holds in the future. There was also an interior design roundtable and several technical presentations and seminars—keeping the seminar portion of the show buzzing with activity.

The Toronto Construction Association (which was profiled in the September issue of CBJ) had representatives on site, who commented that the attendance was a sure reflection of the upwards swing of the industry. “The [Federal Infrastructure] stimulus program seems to be working very well,” they commented. Hopefully, though this infrastructure funding from the federal government comes to an end in 2011, the industry will continue to progress at the steady post-recession pace the association has seen. Other associations and professional organizations agreed that 2010 was a time where things were uncertain, but that 2011 looks to be more founded on solid ground.

New products and services

It was clear over the three conference days that new products are revolutionizing the way those in construction do business. One of the most interesting and energetic companies presenting their wares at the show was the Bluebeam software team. The Bluebeam crew was at the show promoting their intelligent PDF software to the crowd that facilitates PDF review from CAD—saving money, time, and paper.

Bluebeam’s PDF Revu CAD Edition was designed to help those in the construction industry create PDFs from within AutoCAD, Revit, SolidWorks and MS Office. According to the company, the focus of the software is large-format drawings, “making it easy to convert drawings of any size while maintaining quality and saving time.” The functionality of the software means teams can operate more efficiently and in a much “greener” way.

One of the company’s sales reps told CBJ that Bluebeam’s software allows for very efficient collaboration. “We all understand that electronic sharing is the easiest mechanism. The industry is paper-based, and it’s slow and difficult to keep track of documents. This CAD software allows people to respond quicker and have more control over that collaboration,” said the company’s marketing manager. She explained that the “green” aspect appeals to customers and some have responded saying that the software “is the missing link,” and it’s what they’ve been waiting for. The software, which originated in the aerospace industry, runs about $200 for one to four licenses. The company offers licenses in batches to accommodate any sized team.

Green was a prominent theme

Another company worth a mention at the show was Glenbarra Energy Management Corp. The company was named the official Winner of the 17th annual Toronto Construction Association (TCA) Temple W. Harris Innovative Product & Technology Award (TIPTA). Glenbarra was recognized for its turnkey installation of Canada’s first “Triple-State” absorption solar thermal Cooling/Heating system (“Absorption System”), which is manufactured by ClimateWell of Sweden, and addresses the cooling, heating and domestic hot water needs of buildings by using energy from the sun.

The award, given to individuals and companies who demonstrate innovation in technology in the construction industry, represents the industry’s appreciation for energy-efficiency and the turn to “green” products—a theme very much evident at the show.

Green building products and solutions accounted for what seemed like a third of the booths at the show, although most of the attendees CBJ spoke to said that green has been a theme for at least four to five years.

Evidently, the layout for the show has remained consistent year after year, said some participants. Tony Vuco, a show attendee for the last 10 years, said that the make-up of conference participants ranges. However, some attendees are fairly focused on what reasons they have for attending. “About 30 per cent of the people at Construct Canada are new attendees, and probably 10 per cent are there for the first time showing new products—the percentage that changes most is the amount of new product development—that’s why I come,” he said. “Lots of people are trades people, but many are here to browse around,” he added. Vuco is an expert in the solar panel and energy installation business.

Overall, Construct Canada exemplified a positive shift in the construction industry—a sector that has gone through some rough patches in the last five years. Stay tuned for stories from the companies at attendance in this event in upcoming issues of CBJ.