HomeFeatures2023 OCA Annual Convention

2023 OCA Annual Convention

While in Barcelona, site of the 2023 OCA Annual Convention, a person has their choice of speaking one of two “official” languages – Catalan or Spanish. So, whether said in Catalan: “Ha valgut la pena l’espera,” or in Spanish: “Valió la pena la espera,” OCA members agreed regardless the language: “It was worth the wait.”

For the more than 230 association members attending the March 15-22 event, the three-year wait for the OCA Annual Convention to be held in Barcelona was worth it. Originally, OCA had earmarked the trip to Spain’s second-largest city and capital of Catalonia as the site of the 2021 convention, but COVID concerns and restraints postponed the event.

The 2023 OCA Annual Convention drew the largest contingency of attendees and companies, as nearly 25% of participants representing more than 30 OCA member companies were first-time attendees. “I attribute that to two things,” said OCA Director of Member Events David Rule of the attendance numbers. “Coming out of COVID, people are ready to travel; and Barcelona, when they set it as a convention destination, was the most requested site of all. People wanted to go there – even though that was three years ago; they had (Barcelona) as a bucket list item.”

miller bros. const.

As a destination point, Barcelona is a lot rolled into one. The city of 1.6-million people is a renowned Members’ Attendance Proves Barcelona was ‘Worth the Wait’ More than 230 Contractors, Families, Guests Enjoy Time in Mediterranean 2023 OCA ANNUAL CONVENTION 14 Ohio Contractor 2023 March/April 15 Mediterranean port and the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous region located in northeastern Spain. A European – let alone global – vacation spot, Barcelona is described as a “commercial centre … famed for its individuality, cultural interest and physical beauty.”

The trip to Barcelona was a oncein-a-lifetime trip for me and Nick,” said 2023 OCA Chairperson Meg Rietschlin, of Rietschlin Construction Inc., who said the approximately 8,500-mile roundtrip was her and her husband’s first time traveling outside North America. Mentioning the eight days of sunshine and 60-degree weather while in Barcelona, she said, “The Mediterranean Sea is beautiful. I most enjoyed the Gothic part of the city; we kept two days open to just roam as we pleased.”

The 101st OCA Annual Convention began Wednesday, March 15, with the arrival of the OCA contingent, which except for a handful of couples weren’t delayed by the winter conditions at New York City’s JFK International Airport. “It’s an easy city, a good airport,” Rule said of Barcelona-El Prat Airport, “which is something that we always need to pay attention to – especially when you have 200 people all coming in on the same day from the same area …”

As the host city of the 1992 Olympics, Rule said Barcelona remains inviting for people to get to and to get around, as he mentioned how in preparation for the Games much of the industrial area was moved inland to improve access to the coastline and nearby Old City. “It’s easy to get around,” Rule said. “It’s one of the few cities where the Olympics was a big, huge plus for the city … Everything built for the Olympics is still being used and it put Barcelona on the map. It’s a mixture of the old world and new.”

From the Hotel Arts Barcelona venue, OCA members took advantage of the Ritz-Carleton Property’s accommodations; proximity to the area’s mixture of art, architecture, cuisine, fashion, museum and park offerings; and the convention’s open schedule. “We try to plan a trip to a jobsite,” Rule said of most OCA convention destinations, “And we had a great one set for 2021, when they were doing a whole new subway system in a portion of Barcelona … but it got completed during the pandemic.” The fruits of that construction were enjoyed, however, as OCA members took advantage of the mass transportation system throughout their time in Barcelona.

Many OCA attendees sought the city’s older construction marvels as well. Brad Miller, of Miller Bros. Construction Inc., said the highlight of this year’s OCA convention for him was learning the history of Barcelona. “They have history that is 2,000 years old. I really liked the Sagrada Familia,” he said of the world’s largest unfinished catholic cathedral. Ironically, Barcelona was to be the site of the association’s convention when Miller served as 2021 OCA Chair.

However, that year’s convention was cancelled due to the pandemic. This year’s trip to Spain was the first for OCA since the 1980 convention in Marbella.

Rietschlin found herself re-visiting Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar to admire its history and architecture. “We returned and spent two hours walking slowly through the church and then sitting in the pew in silence admiring the arches, the windows and the history,” she said of the basilica built from 1329-1384. “It is a beautiful landmark and testament to very hardy construction.”

Other activities of note were OCA’s Welcome Dinner and Theme Dinner. “We had a lot of entertainment on this trip, more so than normal,” Rule said of the string quartet on the 2023 March/April 15 2023 Annual Convention Sponsors Gold Sponsors Prestress Services Industries LLC, Hydro-Technologies Inc., Miller Bros. Construction Inc., Bronze Sponsor Gerken Paving Inc. 16 Ohio Contractor opening evening and the Flamenco dancers and guitarists who provided the entertainment on the next-to-last evening. Members also enjoyed excursions and activities such as sidecar and winery tours, seaside trips and a visit of the Medieval Town of Girona, where many recognized from season six of the Game of Thrones television series.

“There were so many things to choose from,” Miller said. “We really packed in as much as we could; it was all great … In my opinion, there is no better way to travel … There were a lot of contractors from Ohio in Spain that week.”

Rietschlin agreed, “We enjoyed the outings and meals. It was fun to gather with OCA members, meet new people and get to know each other a little more.”

Sun, Sand, Surf & Sand Wedge

OCA members will have an opportunity to gather with one another next March 6-13 in San Diego for the 2024 OCA Convention.

The first OCA Annual Convention to be held in the continental U.S. since 2006, next year’s event will be held at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, which TripAdvisor rates as the No.1 luxury hotel in the U.S.

Rule praised the 400-acre Fairmont Grand Del Mar property and its resort offerings, which range from a five-star spa, pools and its more than 40 miles of horse riding, biking and walking trails, to the Tom Faziodesigned Grand Golf Club. And if one decides to take in more of the Southern California surroundings, the convention site is conveniently located near the Pacific Ocean, San Diego Zoo and legendary Torrey Pines Golf Course. “I think the golfers are going to love it,” Rule added.

With the 2024 Convention returning to San Diego for the first time since 1996, Rule sees it as a perfect trip for young families, “and it’s only one flight from home.”

Members appreciate the work OCA provides in planning and vetting the annual convention sites and activities. “I think what people love about our conventions, whether it’s close by or halfway around the world, that they’re going to feel comfortable, that it’s going to be safe and we’re going to provide plenty of opportunities for them to be together – and we’re going to provide opportunity to do their own thing,” Rule said.

More information on the 2024 OCA Convention, as well as 2025’s Italy destination, will be made available soon.



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