Challenges and opportunities for Canadian Consulting Engineering Firms

Shawn Scott, RVA President, CEO
Shawn Scott, President and CEO of RVA
Shawn Scott, RVA President, CEO
Shawn Scott, President and CEO of RVA
ES&E Magazine spoke with Shawn Scott, President and CEO of R.V. Anderson Associates (RVA), to talk about the company’s new look, and opportunities for consulting engineering in Canada.
By Peter Davey, Managing Editor, ES&E Magazine

RVA recently announced a new logo and identity. What made the company decide on this new look?

With the retirement of Ken Morrison, our past-president, and a number of senior directors in the firm, RVA has gone through a generational change in the company. To refocus the company, we embarked on a strategic planning exercise with the intent of refreshing our vision and establishing new goals for the firm.

As part of our new vision, it seemed fitting to rebrand the firm, and that we tie the new direction of the company with a new look.

RVA logoIt’s worth mentioning that our new logo maintains the tie to the iconic “double-A” which was developed by our founder Roderick Anderson and was synonymous with us being referred to as “Anderson’s Associates”. It was important to come up with a logo that maintained the history of the company, and one that our clients could readily identify with.

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How does growth fit into your strategic plan?

One of our strategic goals targeted growing the company. We have increased our staffing by almost 15% over the last year and a half, and we’re continuing to focus on organic growth and ultimately branching out and expanding into new geographical areas.

Tying into the human capital needs of the firm moving forward, we asked: “What are the things that we need to do to become a great place to work?” We have introduced changes such as health and wellness programs, a corporate gym membership and improved vacation benefits.

Consulting engineering companies are often announcing mergers and acquisitions. What is your outlook on this and does it fit into RVA’s plans?

It’s interesting that we have seen acquisitions come full circle to some degree. The larger firms continue to buy up the smaller firms, but now we have started to see the spin-off firms start up, as the senior partners of acquired firms leave to branch out and start smaller companies.

In terms of RVA, our shareholders were unanimous in maintaining our employee-owned structure. We are certainly exploring strategic acquisition opportunities to find a firm that shares the same culture and values that we do, and shares our growth strategy.

Water, wastewater and transportation are your primary business areas. What challenges and opportunities do you see in the future for these sectors in Canada?

The challenges are many. We are starting to see the effects of growth, demographic changes and climate change on our infrastructure. The recent flooding in Quebec and New Brunswick is one example of the impact climate change is having on our systems. With an increase in the frequency and intensity of storm events, our infrastructure is being put under more and more pressure.

From my perspective, there are many opportunities with infrastructure renewal. We’re just starting to see the pressure on the systems, and the need for municipalities to keep up with their current and developing strategies. RVA is well positioned to aid our clients with these changes.

Are there any areas of growth that you see when it comes to infrastructure projects?

Certainty, asset management and facility management have become a larger part of our business as our clients continue to focus on prioritizing their capital projects and needs. I think the pressure on our infrastructure is going to lead to a focus on alternative delivery models, such as design-build and  Private-Public-Partnerships, to be able to deliver projects in a timely fashion. We are certainly starting to be more involved in the alternative delivery market.

How do the coming years look for consulting engineering in Canada?

I would say that I’m bullish on the outlook. We see a lot of opportunities in the infrastructure marketplace and certainly with our current clients. From our perspective, there are many opportunities in 2017 and we’re looking at that continuing well into 2018 and 2019.

This article appears in ES&E Magazine’s June 2017 issue.

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