Supporting Member Needs for 28 years

By Cheryl Mah, Media Edge

For Jane Andrew, retirement will mean saying goodbye to her “second family” at the Mechanical Contractors Association of BC (MCABC).

“It’s been a great experience. I’ve gotten to know the members well and their kids and their grandkids. It has been amazing watching the families grow, so that’s going to be the tough part. But I’m looking forward to my next journey in retirement,” says Andrew, a long-time and valued member of the MCABC team, who will retire on December 31st, 2020.

Andrew started her career at a sheet metal company in the Lower Mainland before joining MCABC in 1992. Over the years, she has held several roles, starting as receptionist before moving onto accounts payable, followed by working on the sub-trade bid depository. She then became executive assistant to Dana Taylor (executive vice president until 2019).

In 2011, Andrew was named director of membership development, services and events. She uses her vast knowledge of the association to recruit new members, develop educational programming and organize events.

“It’s been quite a huge portfolio for me but I’ve enjoyed it,” she says.

Over the last 28 years, Andrew has contributed to countless initiatives and helped to grow the association to what it is today. MCABC is B.C.’s largest trade association with more than 170 members dedicated to mechanical contracting, with both open shop and unionized members.

She recalls the early years when the office was just two people that were kept busy not only with running MCABC but six other affiliated entities (two labour relations associations and several union management trust funds that are now separated from MCABC).

“We started with one conference and three golf tournaments,” says Andrew. “We grew from  72 people at our conference to 200 and from three tournaments to seven.”

As a provincial association, Andrew felt it was important to hold more activities outside of the Lower Mainland to engage all members. “We held events jointly with local associations like SICA in Kelowna and it worked out quite well.”

Another idea she had helped to increase attendance at the annual conference. Instead of only limiting it to members and their spouses, she started a children’s program and then a teen program. “I realized we were losing many of the younger members who had children so with these programs, families felt more welcome in coming to the conference,” says Andrew, adding celebrating the association’s 100th anniversary was a memorable milestone.

Of course, this year has been extremely challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic requiring many associations to cancel or postpone events and programs. MCABC has adapted with online education programs and even held a golf game this past September while adhering to all health and safety protocols.

“It caught everybody off guard,” says Andrew. “Instructors weren’t ready to do programs virtually but it’s all worked out. I think the change to virtual classes will be a part of education programs moving forward.”

While there have been many changes over the years, the biggest one that stands out for Andrew is how technology is transforming the industry. The last 20 years has seen incredible tech advancements from digital plans and smart gadgets to 3D printing and drones. With mechanical systems growing in complexity, new digital tools offer advantages throughout the design to completion process.

BIM (Building Information Modelling) is now a widely adopted practice, and MCABC has been actively trying to support members’ ability to adopt and integrate it into their businesses.

“It’s been quite a challenge these last few years to get some of the older members to accept new technology,” notes Andrew. “MCABC’s focus is on providing more training on technology like BIM. It’s important for the trades to be using the same model as the generals on projects to make things easier and quicker.”

Andrew has also used her knowledge to assist women in the trade grow professionally by joining the Canadian Construction Women. She served as a committee member and board secretary before stepping down last year.

“It’s an association that’s really growing and empowering women to be a part of the industry,” she says.

As she prepares to exit MCABC, Andrew is proud of the role she’s been able to play in meeting the needs of members. She will miss the interaction with members (many who have become friends) and helping them to solve problems – the most rewarding part of the job.

“I spend a lot of personal time with the association – keeping it going – and when there’s a problem, members come to see me about it,” she says. “I’m proud that I have been able to keep that personal touch with members. That personal touch makes a difference. I travel around to see members and it makes them feel happy to be a part of the association.”

As for MCABC’s future, Andrew wishes the association all the best. “I hope they continue to grow and that they don’t forget to keep that personal touch with members,” she says.

MCABC will be hosting an online tribute to Andrew on December 16th. RSVP here.