Aurora Construction Perform Project Management Service for IBEW Building
by Scott A. Sumner
Gino Sonego and Peter McCart, co owners of Aurora Construction, have worked together for over 30 years now. They started in this field in 1985 working with Wing Construction for 15 years and then started Aurora Construction almost 20 years ago. The company has kept quite busy since their beginning, recently working on the new International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 402 Training Centre building.
“ The IBEW project was great to work on. It started with Ray Williamson who had done some legwork. The IBEW wanted to be their own general contractor but they were looking for a project manager to
coordinate everything and approached us last spring. After a few discussions we went ahead with the project as a construction manager.” said Gino Sonego.
The site was preloaded to act as settlement, if there were to be settling of the building. The planning began long before that according to Sonego.
“ The IBEW had lots of land and the building is quite different than the previous building, being much larger with some rental space, some training and having their own offices there. They supply the unionized electrical trades for the city and region. Thunder Bay is a pretty strong union town and most is unionized,”said Gino. “The building fills the site up with a large parking lot. It will be nice and clean with
some landscaping. We coordinated the sub trades and had an on site foreman that worked the site and sub trades.”
“ The work started with excavation, foundation work and structural steel, then the building walls and drywall. It has an elevator for accessibly to the second floor and a huge shop area for their people
and training and say even safety training. The building has a good system for security and controlling the building. Many of the buildings of today are trying to improve their energy efficiency to maximize their dollars for heating and cooling.”
The project went well from start to finish noted Gino Sonego. “ We didn’t have too many problems. It dragged a little in the winter. We could have started a little earlier in the spring instead of the summer
to avoid some of the winter conditions. Glen Drewes of the IBEW had a lot of say in the overall look with a few changes, say a different stone on the exterior and some changes in colours. It all ties together
well and looks nice. There were some added windows and lots of natural light in the building.”
The area for the new large IBEW building made sense to utilize the land they had to function out of their previous building on site and then move in and demolish the old building for parking. It was a smart
move on their part rather than getting a new location to build said Sonego.
How was it working with the local trades on this building?
“In Thunder Bay we have a lot of good trades. The only problem we see is the trades are getting older and there is probably a lack of young people coming into the trade for whatever reason- there maybe a lack of work in the trades to guarantee full time employment. Maybe some have been pushed out of the trades over the years. Many of the trade’s people are into their late 50’s and 60’s and will retire in the next 5 or so years. The trades earn good income. Sometimes in the past they have had to move out of town and move back and forth. You need employment on a regular basis.”
How have things gone at Aurora Construction over the years?
“ We have been steady, fortunate throughout our years in the construction business. You never know how it will be from year to year. When the economy is strong or good for everybody, it is good but as
soon as it slows down everybody tries to compete harder and it trickles down. We are always looking ahead and planning 3 or 6 months down the road on what we may be able to bid on and pick up new jobs.”
“ I always have enjoyed the construction business and still enjoy going to work and meeting the people, dealing with our sub trades and suppliers. You become close and meet lots of good people.
What is your impression of our local economy?
“Our economy is steady. Thunder Bay has never had those really high or lows. Right now it is a little slower than what it has been in the past five years when it has been really busy. People became accustomed to the heavier workload. Now it is to back to where it was. Hopefully there will be other businesses expanding or coming here and the mining sector or paper mill keeps going. Hopefully Bombardier will stay strong and create employment.”