FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Ross Roy
October 31, 2017
Ross reached out to me again this year – wanting help promoting a fundraising event, the 3rd Annual Peter Burgener Memorial Charity Concert. I replied, “sure, happy to do it again this year” … which led to a deeper conversation about the event, why it matters so much to him, about Peter – and that conversation led to this interview.
I’ve happily published information about this event each year – to remember the late Peter Burgener – everybody in our industry liked him. I didn’t know him well, but I vividly remember my discussions with him, hearing him speak and reading his columns in the Calgary Herald, but this time I paused to ask, who is Ross Roy? Can I interview him? His answer was an easy yes but I think it was more connected to promoting the event than to ‘revealing Ross’ – which became an interesting exercise one recent Friday morn …
Ross Roy is a Principal and Senior Project Manager at Stantec Architecture. His path/route/education and the tutelage or Peter Burgener have produced a very interesting guy I enjoyed meeting. Music, fundraisers and charity work are a big part of his life. His day-job … is Lead in his area – Retail/Commercial/Mixed Use within Stantec's Buildings Group – one of 11 Principals in the Calgary Architecture shop of approx. 100 staff currently). We met at his offices on Barlow Trail and enjoyed one of Calgary’s most impressive views of downtown with magnificent mountain views on a magnificent clear morning …
In the beginning … he was born in Port Colborne, ON, first born of two boys – his family moved to Calgary in 1977. At 13, Ross was not happy about the move. While he admits to feeling “dragged here”, it has been a happy home since. Mom, a nurse, worked at the Rocky View Hospital until retirement. Dad used to manage the Ranchman’s Club. They're going strong in retirement back in Port Colborne. After an ‘average’ academic career and playing some minor hockey, he graduated from James Fowler High – then attended University of Calgary where he obtained a B.A. in Philosophy. Why philosophy? “I knew I wanted to go to architectural school – wanted a good grounding, worked hard to get a high GPA so I could get into Architecture School”. Which he did. Why architecture? “I was always doodling, sketching – and my dad encouraged me a lot”. While in university a summer job at Burgener LaChappele began his association with Peter Burgener which further fueled his interest as did U of C Architecture School … and a busy life intervened – got married to Jackie (she’s an office administrator at the RockyView) at 19, two sons (now 30 & 26), life and work and academia seemed a busy blur. RAIC Syllabus Program, work for a small firm – then return to his affiliation with/influence of Peter Burgener at BKDI in 1990 until Peter became ill and teamed up with Zeidler to add horsepower for the City Centre project and as a succession plan to esnure the firm could carry on.. Ross joined Stantec in 2016. Ross’s work with Peter spanned 21 years – most poignant being their frequent visits in his final months – which led to the creation of an event, to raise money for a good cause, and to celebrate Peter’s love of music. This year – with co-sponsors Mawer Investments and Stantec, the event’s ticket sales will go 100% to Classroom Champions. Previous events have raised money for U of C scholarships. “It’s a musical event to honour my friend and mentor Peter. He loved music.”
Why are you successful? “I was very well advised, and I took that advice. I’ve been fortunate to be successful because good people cared about me. I’m a touchy-feely kind of guy. I credit my family, my wife, my professional partnerships and friends."
What has held you back? “I didn’t need more. I’m content and happy. I try to balance my life.”
... I think Peter would be proud of his protégé ...
How do you see your business – architecture – going forward over the next quarter?
… business is good right now – we’re busy – largely with Calgary projects. I see clients re-thinking some projects, delaying some and seeing diversification/figuring out projects differently.
And over the next five years?
… in terms of trends, sustainability is a key factor in nearly everything we do. But the fundamentals of what we do don’t change much. Codes and standards are always changing but that’s not new. We are becoming more specialized – and we’ll continue to be a diverse practice in comparison to a lot of firms …
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… you get what you pay for. For good quality and great performance, for value, you have to pay a little bit more …
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Ross Roy/Stantec, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… you get a combination of someone who understands people, believes relationships are fundamental. I help clients, advise them, help them to get what they want – and I happily socialize with them too …
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… I’m not a bossy boss. I listen to my team. I love collaboration – I want to know what I can do for them. I realize work isn’t ‘everything’ in their lives. I get the best out of people when I can be encouraging …
… yup! … that’s extremely important.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… work. My boys – and their wellbeing. My brain is full …
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… getting married and having kids very young was a struggle financially and in every way – and my sons are my best friends. My wife, now a two-time breast cancer survivor, puts my life in perspective – has shown me what is really important. At one point, after a car accident involving my wife and sons … we had one in ICU, it was very scary time. She’s still here, he’s still here – and my faith is very strong. AND, Peter. Everything I learned about being an architect I learned from him. He always had my back – and always had my best interests at heart. He did a lot for me, and when he needed me, I was there for him and for his family.
… I’m lead vocalist in a band – Cry Baby. Mostly gigs around Calgary. I've sung with the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus. Golf (18 handicap), beer league hockey, walking my 130 lb. bloodhound. We ride in charity rides and fundraisers – recently took part in Fresh Start Recovery Centre’s 12-Stop Ride for Recovery (Jackie was their top fundraiser).
What do you read?
… I love to read biographies and autobiographies. I’m reading Brian Wilson’s biography right now – the man is a genius. I’m not a big fiction reader – I prefer real life stories.
… 2004 Infiniti G35X. And our bikes – Jackie rides a 2007 V-Star 1100, I have a 2008 Kawasaki Nomad 1600.
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