By Cheryl Mah
Long-time executive vice president Dana Taylor is retiring after 29 years with the Mechanical Contractors of B.C. (MCABC). As the longest serving EVP in MCABC’s history, Taylor says he prefers the term “exiting.”
“Retiring seems like such a foreign concept today. When I think about what else I would like to do – so many things pop into my head,” says Taylor, who at 68, will officially retire at the end of June.
One of his last duties will be working with new CEO Kim Barbero (former executive director of Boating B.C.), who joined MCABC in April, for a two-month period to help with the transition. “Our hope is between the two of us and by the time I leave, she will be well established with her feet on the ground and a good idea of where she needs to direct her attention,” says Taylor, adding that longtime staffer Jane Andrews will be a great resource with the day-to-day knowledge.
Almost all the major construction associations in B.C. have undergone leadership transitions in the past two years and Taylor is one of the last leaders from that era to hang up his hat.
“Everyone ran for the door all at once,” he says with a laugh.
Asked to reflect on what he will miss most, Taylor is quick to say the interaction with members and the many relationships he has built over the years.
“Construction is really like a big family. My time at MCABC has allowed me to meet many good people and to develop a number of friendships,” he says.
As a passionate supporter of the trades and especially mechanical contractors, Taylor has spearheaded or been involved in a number of important initiatives over the years including trades training incentives, drafting contractor licensing legislation, safety and most notably, prompt payment legislation. In 2006, he received the Association Cornerstone of Excellence Award in Government Affairs from the B.C. Chapter of the Canadian Society of Association Executives.
Taylor’s dedication and leadership of the association have not gone unnoticed.
“Dana contributed 29 years to this association and his achievements will not be forgotten,” says MCABC board president Dale Miller. “His deep understanding of the issues facing mechanical contractors in this province guided the association and made it into what it is today. Had it not been for Dana’s leadership, MCABC would not be the respected organization it is.”
Richard McKeagan, retired president and CEO of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada, shares similar sentiments. “I have known Dana for over 25 years as a colleague and a friend. He has dedicated his heart and soul for his members in British Columbia for a very long time and has professionally represented them extremely well not only provincially, but nationally and internationally as well. His experience and knowledge will be sorely missed throughout the entire industry but I know that his best – in the next page of his life – is about to begin.”
According to Taylor, the timing of his retirement was precipitated by the desire of unionized contractor affiliate, Island Mechanical Industrial Relations Association (IMIRA) to leave MCABC. For decades, IMIRA was a full partner operating under the administrative umbrella of MCABC and the board’s decision to formally separate will mean a new operational model for MCABC.
“Knowing that was going to take place by the end of 2019, I thought it was best if someone else be here for the transition because whatever emerges is going to be different from anything that I managed or ran in my time. The organization that I joined will be very different going forward,” he says. “Also equally important is that it’s time for me to do other things.”
Construction, in some shape or form, has been a part of Taylor’s life for more than 40 years. Throughout his post-secondary schooling, the Toronto native worked summers on various projects including the largest coal-fired thermal generation station in Ontario and the Toronto Eaton Centre development. His father, a civil engineer, introduced him to the industry.
Taylor attended Notre Dame University in Nelson, B.C. for a couple of years before pursuing economics and political science at Simon Fraser University. “Construction always paid the way,” says Taylor, who moved to B.C. in 1974. He worked for a number of general contractors and engineers in different roles from a carpenter’s helper to site surveyor. The Vancouver Shipyards was his first job in Vancouver with Dillingham and Cuyler Contracting.
Moving into association work was really about timing and the opportunities presenting themselves along the way. Taylor was approached to join the Amalgamated Construction Association (now the Vancouver Regional Construction Association) in 1980. By this time Taylor was already active on various voluntary boards as well as in the community so joining the association was a good fit.
“I knew construction – having worked in it for so many years – and my volunteer work for non-profits was similar territory so it was an easy fit,” says Taylor, who also sat on North Vancouver’s city council.
He served for six years as ACA vice president before joining the New Westminster Economic Development Association. When that association wound down, his predecessor Vic Traynor invited him to join MCABC in 1990. Taylor took over the reins when Traynor retired.
“And as they say, the rest is history,” says Taylor. “My role here has really been about advancing the objectives of the organization and ensuring we are providing value to members and assisting them in their businesses.”
Founded in 1905, MCABC is B.C.’s largest trade association dedicated to mechanical contracting, with both open shop and unionized members specializing in heating, plumbing, HVAC, gas installations, fire protection, controls and industrial mechanical systems.
While many things have changed over the years, the association’s mandate to support its more than 150 members through advocacy, education and networking have not. Taylor has enjoyed providing leadership in all three areas and more, while developing an appreciation for the significant role mechanical trades plays in the construction process.
“The trade itself is so important,” he says. “Mechanical is on the leading edge of changing technologies. You can’t build a building without mechanical or electrical. Those two trades represent more than 50 per cent value of a structure.”
Taylor has championed many issues during his time but the most important has been prompt payment legislation. Prompt-payment legislation (ensuring contractors and subcontractors are paid in a timely manner) was adopted in Ontario in December 2017 and will come into force this October. The federal government announced in the 2019 budget that legislation will be introduced related to public projects.
Delayed payments have long been a systemic issue and Taylor remains hopeful that the inequalities will be corrected with B.C. implementing its own legislation.
“This organization has led the push for prompt payment across the country. We’ve been active provincially and nationally on this issue for a dozen years,” he says. “MCA has had the guts to stay front and centre about this and I give credit to the successive boards for staying on it and hope they will continue on it.”
In addition to staying plugged in on prompt payment, Taylor is looking forward to the Ecocity World Summit in Vancouver this October. His interest in sustainability and green buildings is an ongoing one, within the mechanical sector and beyond, inspiring initiatives such as the creation of the B.C. Green Chamber of Commerce in 2012 (which has since amalgamated with the Board of Change in 2017) and running as a Green Party candidate in the last provincial election.
His immediate retirement project includes working hard in some capacity to get the Green Party elected in the upcoming federal election. And his long term and most challenging project? Saving the planet.
“Major change is necessary and saving the planet seems like a good idea. I truly would like to see change and only can do that by being involved,” he says. “It’s my mission impossible and I’m looking forward to it.”
Cheryl Mah is managing editor of MCABC Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine