Meet the ORAM team: Sylvain Girard, Commercial Estimator

September 19, 2022


If there’s one thing you should know about Sylvain, it’s that he loves to have fun. He knows his dry sense of humour can be perceived as unfriendly, but anyone who has spent any time with him knows that’s not the case. Everybody agrees he’s great to work with, and he always has a joke up his sleeve. Behind his serious exterior is someone who knows how to have a good laugh.

For the past three decades, Sylvain has brought his skill, determination, attention to detail, and heart to ORAM as a commercial estimator, helping us grow our business and putting smiles on his colleagues’ faces. We’re thrilled to tell you more about him in this post.

Being a commercial estimator at ORAM

At ORAM, commercial estimators leverage value engineering and BIM to deliver the characteristic design–build approach of our signature ORAM Experience. They’re responsible for answering RFPs and receiving and analyzing tender documents to make sure we have everything we need to estimate a project.

Their days are never boring. Estimators design models, interpret blueprints and quotes, create lists of materials with their team, and estimate both material and labour costs as well as subcontractor and supplier expenses. They also visit sites for their bids, stay in close contact with the Coordination Team, meet with customers, and participate in meetings.

At ORAM, our estimators’ expertise is a vital resource. They help us improve our processes, keep our databases current, and find ways to assess how we’re building. They help ORAM innovate and do better.
Connecting directly with ORAM’s customers has been one of the most positive aspects of Sylvain’s job, enriching his career over the years. His favourite part about ORAM is our corporate culture, which puts people first and emphasizes wellbeing. He’s always felt like the company put its faith in him.

Isabelle Dunn, ORAM’s operations assistant, has been with the team for 18 years. She’s the first to acknowledge what Sylvain brings to the table: “We call him the Yoda of Estimates because of his quiet strength. He never makes mountains out of molehills and always tells it like it is. You can always count on him. Over the years, he’s given advice to many on the ORAM team. He’s truly a seasoned expert.”

Seizing opportunities

As a young adult, Sylvain thought of becoming a firefighter, a job that would have undoubtedly made him very proud and allowed him to help others. He was also interested in electronics, but as a field, it didn’t live up to his expectations. He studied to be a mechanical engineering technologist—a decision that proved to be decisive for his career.

He had been working in Montreal when a commercial estimator position opened up at ORAM, giving him the opportunity to work closer to home. It was the former ORAM president and current ambassador, Sylvain Allaire, who hired him for the job, which matched his skills and training. Sylvain is proud to say that was now 31 years ago.

He remembers that President Allaire brought the plans for his first job interview test, which he passed with flying colours. “I had to estimate the cost from the plans provided. Luckily, my $127,000 estimate was only $700 off from the actual estimate, which allowed me to advance to the next round.” At that time, several qualified candidates would often compete for the same position. Sylvain is very proud that he was chosen after the three rounds of interviews, which was the norm in the 1990s. By chance, he also interviewed Olivier Mongrain in 2003 for a project manager position. Olivier is now ORAM’s current co-president.

Overcoming challenges

Sylvain was ORAM’s sole commercial estimator for several years and had started eyeing his retirement. ORAM leadership knew how important it was to prepare for his transition, so they put him in charge of mentoring the new junior estimator, Anthony Ouellet. If you ask Anthony, Sylvain mentors everyone, not just him.

“It’s a great challenge for me, especially because I want to help Anthony as much as I can and my days are already chock-full,” said Sylvain, who learned the ropes when he joined ORAM out in the field.

The other challenge he’s been able to overcome, though not without a few initial jitters, is adapting to ever-evolving new technology. At an innovative company like ORAM, these changes happen constantly. “I needed a lot of patience to adjust over the years, especially since projects have become increasingly ambitious and complex.”

Pierre Fortin, ORAM’s Vice President of Sales, Marketing, and Business Development and a close colleague of Sylvain for the past two years, says he’s at the top of his game and adapts well to change: “He’s a reliable team player. He’s always ready to help and keeps the mood calm. Everyone feels in good hands with Sylvain because there’s never drama or rushing simply for rushing’s sake.”

Fuelling pride

With retirement on the horizon, Sylvain looks back on his career with pride, moved by his own parents’ pride in his accomplishments and determination. After he retires, he plans to spend his time volunteering, something he’s always wanted to spend more time doing. We’re sure that wherever he goes, he’ll leave behind a trail of smiles!

Do you dream about a career where you meet challenges head on and fuel pride in your work? Shoot your shot! Join the ORAM team and come build something great with us!

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