CBSN: Connecting construction service and product providers to develop business opportunities

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    Ontario Construction Report staff writer

    The Canadian Building Supply Network will provide a forum and community for product and service providers to the commercial real estate industry, say the organization’s founders.

    The goal: To provide an environment in which business relationships can be nurtured, where building owners/managers and developers procurement processes, are simplified, without the usual overhead and real estate-type focus of some associations to which many suppliers currently belong.

    “This is not an association, it’s a peer network,” said chairman Chuck Stradling, who has previously served as executive vice-president of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Toronto.

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    “We don’t have a lot of committees, consuming valuable volunteer-member time,” said CBSN president Wayne Proulx.  Proulx has previously been the director of BOMA Toronto’s conservation and demand management (CDM) program, administering a $75 million incentive program which the Ontario government at that time endorsed as one to be the template for the rest of the province (now delivered by the local distribution companies).

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    The backgrounds of CBSN founders Stradling and Proulx reflect their desire to create a community for suppliers where the suppliers themselves become the primary focus. (Many associations combine supplier and owner/developer members, but restrict the number of suppliers in the organization and focus primarily on the needs and wants of their members who are property owners/managers/developers).

    Both Stradling and Proulx envisage a national network, but the group is initially concentrating  on the Ontario market where the buzz led directly to the success of its launch event, which attracted more than 100 people in November at the Bottom Line Restaurant in Toronto.

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    “There has never been an organization like this to represent this industry,” Proulx said.  “When all these companies are together in one organization we are able to unify the suppliers’ voice to enhance contracting standards and business opportunities on their behalf

    Some of the advantages will come from the fact that many suppliers do business with each other, generating leads and referrals.  “One of our initial members, the leader of a successful Canadian security firm, said ‘I do 50 per cent of my business through other supplier associates.’”

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    “It’s all about networking with a broad-based list of suppliers.  Companies might even be in the same line of business, but serve different markets, and so can share leads or co-operate in other ways.”

    CBSN envisages commercial real estate owners and developers will connect to the group through the CBSN Tower Club, which will have a procurement portal to simplify the purchase of essential products and services, with due diligence being done by the CBSN, thus reducing the property owners’ risk exposure.  Members will adhere to a simple and pragmatic Code of Conduct, giving owners confidence in accepting bids and proposals from member firms.

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    Stradling estimates the organization will have 300 members by the end of the year.  The CBSN is planning upwards of 10 networking events in 2014.  “We won’t charge members fees to attend these events,” he said. “One thing that troubled me about some associations is that once you join, you have to pay additional costs to participate in events.  The CBSN will provide an all-inclusive service for their annual membership fee.  There may be sponsorship opportunities if requested, but these won’t be essential to get full value from the group.”

    Details are still being sorted out, but one of the first events is scheduled for Feb. 20, which will focus on contracting risk and solutions.

    Further information is available at the CBSN website, www.thecbsn.com.

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