Craig Brockwell | March 2019
Just a little over six years ago, my business partner Stewart Kiff offered me the opportunity to join him at Solstice Public Affairs. Having just retired early from my position as Legislative Observer (lobbyist) for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), I welcomed the chance.
This looked like the perfect opportunity to continue working in an area I love and keep me active in an environment that provides challenging work. I also hoped to continue doing what I found most satisfying while working with OSSTF, namely impacting legislation and regulation in a positive way and thus making Ontario and Canada a better place to live. A bit corny but the truth!
At the outset, transitioning to the world of government relations outside an institutional role was a challenge. While working within an organization the size of OSSTF, I could count on the support of a very large group of capable individuals with in-depth knowledge of various policy areas.
Conversely, working in a small firm, I needed to be the master of each and every job task and on top of every policy issue.
Nonetheless, with Stewart’s support, I transitioned into this new world and became comfortable working outside my initial area of expertise.
Over the last six years, Stewart and I have seen our client base grow. We have developed into a sought-after firm seen by many as one that effectively supports and delivers for its clients at a competitive rate. Our growth allowed us to make additions to our team, further diversifying our client base and expanding our business.
Within the last year, we have added Karen Woods, Jean-Guy Fréchette and, just recently, Greg Seniuk to the team.
Karen has provided an avenue into a broader ethnic client base and one that is more policy diverse. She is bringing in clients from outside our traditional construction and education mix, namely from the media sector and payment industry. As well, she has become adept at working with our clients through grant application processes.
Jean-Guy has bolstered our francophone business and brought further strength in the area of policy development. He has been instrumental in developing messaging and policy for our francophone clients and has taken on the organization of lobby days.
Greg has hit the ground running and is developing a client base closely tied to the work he did while working within government in the fields of transportation, environment and municipal planning. Greg is also fleshing out an approach to business that assists our clients through the permitting process and business growth process.
As we have grown, we have increased our capacity to serve our francophone client base and have developed relationships with subcontractors and vendors that can deliver value-added service to our clients. We have also boosted our support staff in order to match our clients’ needs.
In a nutshell, Solstice Public Affairs is becoming a more robust company, but one that still retains the feel of a boutique firm.
The coming months will bring a bit of a changeover at the top. Following the birth of two grandsons last fall, I have decided to semi-retire. I will be relinquishing my partnership role to Jean-Guy and taking on a new role as Senior Political Advisor. I will be at the ready to mentor our growing Associate personnel and help as needed on various files. I will continue the work I do on a more personal basis with Support Ontario Youth to facilitate the access to trades for young people.
It has been a rewarding six years! And to our clients − former, present and future − I can assure you that, moving forward, Solstice Public Affairs will continue to provide the best service you need and deserve.
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