Clients must pay true value for engineering, says new ACEC chair
July 8, 2004
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
Allen D. Williams, P.Eng. was elected Chair of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada at the annual summ...
Allen D. Williams, P.Eng. was elected Chair of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada at the annual summit held June 27.
Principal of the firm A.D. Williams Engineering of Edmonton, Alberta, Mr. Williams succeeds Gary Bolton, P.Eng. of SMS Engineering, Winnipeg.
In a speech at the ACEC annual meeting held at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Williams said he would continue to focus on issues such as encouraging clients to consider other qualities beyond fee price as a means of selecting engineering firms: “Quality Based Selection (QBS) must continue to be a major thrust for ACEC. … Implementation of QBS federally, provincially and municipally is essential and should be a key focus. Private industries, which are major clientele of ACEC members, should also be sold on the advantages of QBS. Our clients must understand that reducing engineering services can often result in higher construction costs, higher energy consumption and increased maintenance. In some cases life safety may also become an issue. Our federal department of public works should be a leader in QBS; corresponding legislation, similar to the Brooks Act in the United States, which is now law in 44 states, should also be passed in Canada. Engineering usually accounts for less than 1% of the life cycle cost of a project and it is not an expense on which most experienced clients try to save money. In my opinion, price based selection of professionals is NOT a responsible action.”
He also noted that consulting firms are often not able to compete with the salaries governments and other markets are paying to engineers, and as a result employees are being lured away from consulting firms.
Mr. Williams is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan and spent his early career in the petroleum and pipeline industries. He established his own firm in 1978, specializing in mechanical engineering and forensic services. Soon the firm became established in the Northwest Territories as well as in Alberta and diversified into different aspects of engineering, including civil and structural, electrical, geotechnical and building science.
The firm’s clients now include telecommunications companies, diamond mining companies, architects and developers. It has completed projects in China, Russia and the Caribbean. Last year it moved its headquarters into the historic Edmonton Club in the heart of downtown Edmonton.
Williams is an outdoor enthusiast and a licensed pilot who often flies staff and clients to different sites. In fact, he flew his plane to the Deerhurst Resort for the ACEC meeting.