Industry honours long-time MCAC leader

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Jack Bavis, left, and David Dawe, right, came all the way from Newfoundland to wish McKeagan a happy retirement.

Jack Bavis, left, and David Dawe, right, came all the way from Newfoundland to wish McKeagan a happy retirement.

By Simon Blake

When chief executive officer Richard McKeagan joined the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada in 1990, the organization had been through four leaders in the previous four years. He must have done something right over the next 28. On May 9, 120 industry colleagues honoured McKeagan and his wife Trish at a retirement party at the Delta Ottawa City Centre Hotel.

“Richard makes all of us other association leaders look bad,” remarked Ed Whalen, president and CEO of the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction. “He is organized, he has political savvy, and he gets the MCAC brand on top.”

Whalen was just one of many industry leaders that poured accolades on the popular industry association leader over the evening. A graduate of Dalhousie University in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science, McKeagan began his career in the construction industry as a rodman on a survey crew. Prior to joining MCAC, he did a “10-year apprenticeship” with the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, where he became familiar with MCAC through working with the Mechanical Contractors Association of Nova Scotia.

Whalen pointed to McKeagan’s work in creating the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC) and bringing associations in many different construction industries together to fight for prompt payment legislation. “He did a wonderful job of bringing people into the fold and leading us,” he added.

Under McKeagan’s leadership, MCAC developed a close working relationship with the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating, something CIPH president and general manager Ralph Suppa referred to as a “wonderful alliance.”

However, noted master of ceremonies James Derksen, (Derksen Plumbing & Heating, Winnipeg), “The relationship with CIPH wasn’t always that chummy, but then Ralph came along, and he and Richard hit if off.”

Long-time – and also recently retired – executive director of the Canadian Construction Association Michael Atkinson joined the industry at about the same time as McKeagan and found him easy to work with.

“He is always a real straight shooter. You always got a smile, a joke or a funny story. No matter how your day was going, talking with Richard always made you feel much better.”

Numerous others shared similar stories and sentiments.

“We’re overwhelmed,” said McKeagan, at the end of the evening. “I’ve always said that MCAC is a family and I truly believe that. This is one thing that I will never forget.”

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