Piling Canada

Rural Focus

CARM gives voice to Manitoba contractors
Written by Rebecca Henderson
March 2022

Photo: CARM

Since the Construction Association of Rural Manitoba (CARM)’s inception, the organization has advocated for its members, provided educational resources and fostered essential relationships between large and small companies in the province.

“What we find in rural Manitoba is a lot of businesses, especially up north, for example, that feel they may not have a voice at the governmental level,” said Shawn Wood, CD, executive director of CARM. “Being a member can help give them that voice to enact meaningful change.”

Wood joined CARM in 2019 after retiring from a 25-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces. He wanted to assist the rural construction industry with expanding its voice and bringing awareness to the many occupations offered within the industry.

“There’s office work, legal teams and a whole entourage of work that involves the construction business.”

– Shawn Wood, CD, CARM

“There’s office work, legal teams and a whole entourage of work that involves the construction business,” said Wood. “So, we want people to understand that and keep that vital piece of information going so we can grow rural Manitoba’s voice in the construction industry.”

CARM’s membership helps keep those voices loud and centre. Woods says CARM has three types of memberships: online, regular and associate. Online membership offers companies an easy way to bid on construction jobs.

“There are somewhere around 80 different procurement sites that construction companies can go to and bid on request for proposals,” said Wood. “Online members can access a thoroughly compiled list of jobs through our platform and conveniently choose which ones to bid on.”

Wood says CARM’s staff source construction jobs throughout the province and regularly reach out to rural municipalities to keep job offers up to date.

The next type of membership is CARM’s regular membership. Even though the regular membership doesn’t include the online piece, it does allow members to use the association’s services.

“We have a plotter where we can produce wide format printing for blueprints and digitalize blueprints,” said Wood. “We also offer templated documents that help with the different types of Canadian Construction Association contracts that are being put in place, so people don’t have to write them from scratch.”

Members receive pricing discounts for these services, says Wood.

The final membership is CARM’s associate membership, which Wood says is for non-
construction companies.

“An associate membership is for people who aren’t on the jobsite,” he said. “Anything from financial institutions, whether it’s banking or financial advice, to legal issues and supply management, like cleaning and PCP supplies, can qualify.”

He says CARM has two media companies that are associate members.

“Anyone who just wants to get their foot in the door,” he said, “and assist with the construction world or provide their services to the construction industry should join as associate members.”

Wood says there are many other benefits to CARM membership. These benefits include events like the CARM Annual Golf Tournament in August or the CARM Annual Banquet in November that closes out the association’s year.

“We then have our Annual Summit, which is like a trade show that runs every spring,” said Wood. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to have the event the last two years.”

The Annual Summit allows members to showcase their products and services and network with their peers, and will return April 14 in Brandon, Man. “We also bring in universities, colleges and high schools for the event,” said Wood. “We want to educate students on what jobs are available within the construction industry. Plus, it gives our members a chance to interact with prospects.”

CARM also publishes its magazine, Building Rural Manitoba, bi-yearly. Wood says the magazine gives members the ability to advertise their products and services and write editorials.

“CARM’s Board determines what each issue’s theme will be, and then we reach out to our membership to see if they can provide articles that reflect that theme through their work,” said Wood. “The magazine goes out to 700 subscribers across Manitoba.”

Once the Brandon Builders Exchange, before adopting its current name in 1993, CARM formed through a need for rural contractors to have a more powerful voice within the Manitoban construction industry. CARM has grown from 14 members in 1913 to 173 members today.

Members can also volunteer for CARM’s five standing committees Government Affairs & Industry Standards and Practices, Education and Training, Membership and Member Services, Media and Promotions, and Entertainment and Events.

Wood says these committees contribute to CARM’s direction, goals and decisions, including membership perks. Some committees also respond to industry challenges and concerns, bringing them to the association’s attention.

“I spend most of my day speaking to government at many levels, municipality and provincial mostly, but a little bit of the federal side as well,” said Wood. “When the industry changes, whether that’s legislation or safety around legislation that requires updating, I am there to advocate on our members’ behalf.”

The association’s membership consists of small to large companies operating in rural Manitoba and often use one another’s services for subcontracting.

“It’s a great way to increase your workload,” said Wood. “It also allows smaller companies to understand their take on things, and to get their voice across to some of these major general contractors and work out these hiccups around a board table before they’re on a project site.”

CARM has grown from 14 members in 1913 to 173 members today.

As for CARM’s future goals, says Wood, the association plans to engage in more outreach and education.
“We have an education piece with post-secondary schools and high schools,” he said. “We’re also reaching out to Indigenous bands to highlight the benefits and opportunities of working in construction.”

For Wood, all of this organization and action is to grow CARM and the construction industry, which is currently experiencing a labour shortage.

“If we don’t have the workers, we don’t have the construction companies, and that means infrastructure has stalled,” he said. “We’re focusing on advertising for the construction industry to build recruitment and expand people’s knowledge.”

Wood says it’s not just a guy standing on a corner holding a flag – it’s a lot more.

“We want to encourage people to join a great industry,” he said. Piling Canada

For more information, please visit www.carm.ca.

Category: Profile

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