On March 29, 2018, ICBA and Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business formalized the Philip Hochstein Fellowship. This Fellowship was made possible by a $945,000 donation from ICBA to the school. The following is the speech given by ICBA board chairman Jim Bogusz to mark the occasion:

I am honoured today to represent the Board of Directors, employees and members of the ICBA at this launch of the Philip Hochstein Fellowship.  I wear another hat too, as I also serve on the Beedie Advisory Board so I am doubly excited about this new partnership between the ICBA and the Beedie School.

Words cannot describe how important Philip has been to the ICBA – and the advancement of free enterprise in BC. Equally so, I doubt anyone could have predicted this 30 years ago.

To say Philip followed his own path is an understatement. And it was anything but a straight line. In his youth Philip had once campaigned for the NDP in Montreal. And after moving to BC in the late 1970s, he pursued graduate studies in public administration at the University of Victoria. Construction never quite made it on to his resume.

So…an NDP campaigner, a public administration major at UVIC and on top of that he had his trademark bohemian look – how did he end up at the ICBA, and crusading for free enterprise?

A short stint in government work was all it took to convince Philip to move to private enterprise. After leaving the government he worked briefly with the Mechanical Contractors Association, where an ICBA member named Hermann Koechl recruited him.

Philip was an unlikely leader for our movement. And only a handful founding members, such as Ed and Ewald Rempel, Bill Kerkhoff and a few others could have foreseen the ICBA becoming the strong organization it is today.

In the fall of 1985, the ICBA was on its deathbed. The board was down to three options:

  • fold it,
  • merge it with another association, or
  • take one last attempt at making it work.

They chose the third option, and pinned considerable hope on an upcoming Labour Code seminar, which Philip Hochstein was contracted to help organize.

The seminar in North Vancouver was make-or-break for the ICBA. Thanks to Philip’s hard work – and the event’s featured speaker, a much younger Mr. Peter Gall, who we’re fortunate to have in the room today, the seminar was a smashing success.

Three times, the room had to be rebooked to accommodate more attendees.

Shortly thereafter, the board hired Philip to take over as ICBA’s lone staff member.

So began the era of Philip Hochstein and the ICBA. An unproven leader and an unlikely organization.

In those early days Philip worked out of the ICBA’s tiny basement office in Surrey.  He was all alone – he was all the ICBA could afford at the time. When it came time for a mail out to members, Philip would conscript his children – who are here today – to help stuff envelopes. ICBA barely had enough money in its bank account to pay him, but he had a plan to stabilize and grow the organization. His fiscal management and ability to do so much with so little is what legends are made of.

His contributions to the ICBA, and to the BC construction industry, are nothing short of remarkable:

  • In 1986, he launched the ICBA’s apprenticeship program. Today, the ICBA is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in British Columbia, with nearly 1,200 men and women apprenticing with ICBA member companies today.
  • In the late 1980s, ICBA launched the Hour Bank as a way for employers to extend affordable, flexible benefits to their workers. It’s worked so well that it’s become known as THE Construction Industry’s Benefit Plan, and it created a stable funding source for the ICBA.
  • He helped form Merit Canada, a coalition of like-minded groups from across the country. Coincidently that’s where the ICBA’s president, Chris Gardner, is today. Chris would have loved to have been here, and the board is grateful to him for his leadership in establishing this Fellowship.
  • Philip led the ICBA and open shop contractors to the lion’s share of the construction business. He built the organization into the public policy and advocacy powerhouse it is today. The open shop sector now represents 85% of the construction industry and has a voice that is heard across the country.

But Philip always had the time for our members. While the ICBA grew and prospered, he never forgot that this was a member-driven organization, and we were there to serve them. He always returned calls.

He constantly reminded us that we are here for the little guy, and laid down those values which guide the organization today.

Now, today….we are investing in creating and developing the next generation of Philip Hochsteins. We hope this Philip Hochstein Fellowship inspires other unlikely people to become champions of free enterprise and open markets, and continue to make the case to build a stronger British Columbia.

On behalf of the ICBA board, staff and members, thank you, Philip. May your legacy flourish for decades to come. And thank you – Simon Fraser University – for facilitating this endowment.