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Bruce Taylor - General Manager, Res Precast

April 2005

Name: Bruce Taylor.

Date of Birth, Place: Toronto, 1950

College: Humber College, Toronto, received a diploma through an architect technology course in 1971

Family: Wife Janet Taylor and basset hound Chloe.

Hobbies: Skiing since he was six years old; building model railroads, wine making, sailing and now golf.

First position in Concrete Industry (year and company): an estimator for Sandrin Precast 1971.

Present position in Concrete Industry: General Manager, Res Precast Inc.

Boards and Committees: member of Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, served as chairman 2002; Served on Board of Directors of PCI in 2002; member and past chairman of Construction Specifications Canada Toronto Chapter.

Most Significant Mentors:Bill Lightbound, sales manager at HH Robertson who took Taylor under his wing and taught him to sell.

Most Significant Improvement to Precast Industry: A changed approach to selling that focuses on what the customer wants not what the company has to sell.

Challenges for the Industry: Finding a vision and developing market savvy.

Advice to future Industry Icons: To be successful you need to network and give back to the industry that supports you.

More about Bruce Taylor:

When Bruce Taylor was a young man not yet out of high school, he asked his father, who worked in the machine tool business, how he could get a job as a service technician fixing milling machines.
“His response,” says Taylor, “was: ‘You don’t want to do that. You should work in sales.” Taylor was shocked. “I couldn’t imagine selling,” he says.
He did love to draw however, and so he decided to become an architect. He attended Humber College in Toronto in the late 60s where he received a diploma through an architect technology course, then decided to take a year off before going to Waterloo University to get an architecture degree. It was during that fateful year off that Taylor discovered precast concrete.
The year Taylor graduated, Sandrin Precast, a northern Toronto based precast business, sent a request to Humber looking for prospective students to hire as estimators. Taylor responded and was hired at $48 a week – and suddenly the idea of going back to school lost some of its appeal.
He liked the challenges of the business and opted to stay in the working world. Taylor joined and worked at Sandrin from 1971 until 1976, when the company closed its doors. He then went to work for Connolly Contractors, a multi - disciplined construction operation in Toronto as an estimator and salesman. “I was a pretty naive salesperson at the time,” he admits. But he gave it his best efforts.
He stayed at Connolly until 1980, when he took a job at H.H. Robertson, which was the largest construction company in the world, specializing in metal wall systems. At Robertson, Taylor was put into a pure sales role and was given intensive training on how to sell that included classes, performing sales techniques in front of a camera, and one-on-one mentoring. It was here that Taylor met Bill Lightbound, his sales manager. “Bill took me under his wing,” says Taylor. “He showed me that you really don’t have to be good at everything to sell, you just have to figure out what your best talent is and work that.”
Taylor found that his strongest selling point was cold calling, and once he made his first few sales, he discovered that he loved it and was good at it.
He stayed at Robertson for 10 years, becoming sales manager and even occasionally used his architecture background to develop design-build proposals for larger projects, such as Toronto’s Terminal Three airport.

Small Company Has Big Future
But then in the early 90s, the precast industry lured him back. Res Precast in Toronto had just opened its doors and were looking for an estimator and they asked Taylor to come in for an interview. While he wasn’t looking for an estimating job, Taylor says, he never turned down an opportunity to network. He met with the owners over lunch in 1990 and they told him they were looking for someone to develop and manage a new precast business. They had already picked up two sizable jobs and needed someone with experience to guide them, and get more business in the door.
Taylor took the job in September 1990, making a move from the biggest construction company in the world to an office and plant with 17 employees. “Precast was always my first love,” he says of the decision. “You can do more with the materials design and get involved with the design and building of a project. Metal is just so generic.”
In his years at Res, Taylor worked on many projects he’s proud of, but takes special pride in his work on the FMC – Financial Modeling Corporation office building. His pencil line drawings won them the contract and he and his company became part of the design team for the five story precast clad building. “It was a hybrid project,” he says. “Some of the initial structural ideas didn’t work, but all of the contractors collaborated and we made it happen.”
Another project he remembers less fondly was a bid on precast concrete rail ties for the Toronto subway system. He picked up tender documents the day he returned from vacation with 24 hours to delivery the tender. He delivered a bid based only on direct costs – it was too low, and they got the project.
“We did the job and we didn’t lose money but we didn’t make any,” he says. However, the project taught him a valuable lesson that served him well later in his career. Five years later an identical rail tie project came up but was 10 times the size. “It was a $6 million dollar project, and we knew exactly what the costs would from the previous project, so we could bid it exactly.” Res won the bid, and the profits more than made up for the previous bidding error.

Education Builds Leaders
Taylor has continued as general manger since it’s first year. Res Precast grew from 17 employees in 1990, to 100 employees today. He attributes much of his success and the company’s growth to his commitment to participating in continuous education through the industry associations. “The key to growth was and still is learned through the associations and personal development programmes they provide.”
In the 90s, Taylor took a marketing and leadership training courses through Canadian Precast / Prestressed Concrete Institute, which he says made a huge impact on his approach to business. “You have to learn the difference between marketing and sales, and how to write a proper marketing plan from which you develop a business plan,” he says.
“And learning,” he adds, “should always be an ongoing process.” Taylor went back to The School of Engineering at University of Toronto last year to take building science engineering courses with completion of the programme scheduled for next year. Taylor also provides precast industry seminars to university and college classes and internally within the Res Group of Companies, he mentors, coaches, and has held seminars on communication, visionary leadership to the companies next generation of construction professionals. However, Taylor laments over the lack of strong leadership in his industry where the lack of desire or ability to “change” may cause an uncertain future in the industry. “You can’t just wait for the phone to ring, you’ve got to show and sell the idea of precast and the value it brings to a successful project,” he advises future leaders. “Go where the business is going to be, instead of where it is now.”

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