HONOURING ROBERT (BOB) NICLI
"A man who presented what is best about business owners"
In July 2019 the OSWCA community lost Robert “Bob” Nicli, a respected sewer and watermain industry leader whose efforts to build our Association are reflected in OSWCA’s achievements and advocacy work that today, benefits us all.
A dedicated construction professional and president of Elgin Construction Company Limited in St. Thomas, Bob served on OSWCA’s Board of Directors from 1983 to 1992 and as president for two terms during 1984-85. He was committed to improved business conditions for the industry, as example, with the Ontario Provincial Standards Committee.
Bob’s daughter, Anne-Marie Nicli, who has taken over as president of Elgin Construction Company, remembers her Dad’s commitment to his company, its employees and his family. She also remembers his pride that, in 2019, Elgin Construction Company celebrated its 75th anniversary.
Equally she is proud of her Dad’s commitment to OSWCA and his efforts that “were instrumental in helping to create OSWCA and his role as a passionate and a strong advocate for the work that the Association does.”
ADVOCATE FOR THE INDUSTRY
Bob is remembered as a hard-working, honest advocate for the construction industry and OSWCA. Wes Dixon, who worked with Bob as a dewatering sub-contractor, says the first word that comes to mind when talking about Bob is “honest. His word was his word.” In addition, says Dixon. “Bob was always passionate about safety and cared about the environment before it was trendy…he was a man ahead of his time.”
Similarly, Ken Kennedy, a retired Contract Manager at Elgin Construction Company, remembers Bob as “a very hard-working man and extremely loyal to his employees, subtrades and suppliers. He would be at the office when I arrived 6.30 in the morning and still there at 6.00 P.M. and then take bids home to review that night prior to closing the next day.”
Kennedy also remembers that Bob “liked to pursue and was successful at projects that were different or difficult. Whether it be Landfill Gas Collection in the early 90s or 10-meter-deep open cut trunk sanitary sewers through the narrow streets of Stratford, he loved the challenge and the never-ending learning curve. We didn't see Bob on site very often, but it was obvious by the barrage of questions on Monday mornings that he had been to the sites over the weekend — whether Hamilton, Fergus, Mount Forest, Port Elgin or Ridgetown — he had made the rounds.”
Moreover, says Kennedy, Bob was “an advocate for fair contract wording that protected all concerned parties. He took great issue with contract resolution wording that read "That the Engineer would be the Sole Judge.”
Greg Petrela, president at Petrela, Winter & Associates, characterizes Bob as a man who “presented what is best about business owners. He was entrepreneurial and street-smart, and he sure knew how to get the best out of his suppliers and business partners. At the same time, he was loyal, principled and visionary.”
“We were appreciative of Bob’s decision to hire us as his bond and insurance advisors some time ago, and it was a pleasure to work with him and get to know him. He was an excellent man in every respect. Bob was a true professional gentleman and he’ll be missed by our entire industry.”
Still, perhaps the last words about Bob should reflect his ability to inspire friendship. Says Ken Kennedy, “he was well respected in the industry and will be forever missed. I started as an Estimator and Project Manager and retired as a friend 25 years later.”