30 Facts You May Not Know About CG&A Communications

  1. Always a Virtual Corporation – Since inception CG&A Communications has been a virtual corporation – a network of writers, graphic designers, web developers, translators – all working from their own home offices. When the company launched 30 years ago this business model was an oddity that had to be explained… now it’s the norm.
  2. The Business Name – We started as Chris George and Associates and a year later changed the firm’s name to CG&A Communications. Our distinctive “box” logo was first unveiled in 1995.
  3. First Office Space – The first CG&A office was a second bedroom in a two-bedroom Ottawa apartment overlooking the canal. It was a total of 120 square feet, featuring a blue shag rug. There was a single desk top computer, printer and fax machine, a wall of bookshelves, filing cabinet and a futon for seating.
  4. Internet was in its infancy – When we started the business, Internet browsers were non-existent and we searched on-line via list indexes. The first browser, the Netscape Navigator, was introduced in summer of 1994 and it was only after that when websites became easily accessible.
  5. No Email to Start – In the beginning the primary mode of office-to-office document transmission was the fax machine. Email had just been introduced — we were early adopters connecting our freelance subcontractors to collaborate via email.
  6. Office Expenses – Through the years the company’s office expenses have changed. In the beginning, the biggest expenses were cross-city bicycle couriers, thermal-rolled fax paper, and postage for mailouts. Today, the biggest expense is cell phones!
  7. First Client – Gus Zygoumis, owner of Dustmoon Maintenance, gave CG&A their first contract in early 1994 to help with communications and administrative support.
  8. 85-Plus Clients – CG&A has worked for more than 85 clients in 30 years — corporations, small businesses, individual interest, national associations and small volunteer-run organizations, public institutions, government agencies and political initiatives.
  9. North American Service Area – Many CG&A clients are located in Ottawa and Toronto. However, through the 30 years CG&A has served clients in places like Niagara Falls, Hagersville, and Halifax — companies from New Liskeard in northern Ontario through to San Mateo, California.
  10. Landing the Ottawa Airport – CG&A really took off in 1997 when the company defeated more than 120 PR firms in a RFP process for the newly privatized Ottawa International Airport. CG&A served as the public relations agency of record through the formative years of the airport’s growth, helping with its formal opening ceremony, the opening of the first US Preclearance Facility, and supporting the airport authority’s business networking in the National Capital Region.
  11. Long Work Hours – Chris and Lisa George and their network provide personalized service that, at times, goes around the clock to meet deadlines. Often, at 9 a.m., they have already put in half-a-day preparing for their clients’ offices to open. On many occasions through the 90’s, Chris and Lisa have fallen asleep beside their computers and printers as they worked through nights to meet imposing deadlines.
  12. Long Commutes – In the early days, when it was important to be physically present in clients’ offices, Chris would regularly drive from Ottawa to Toronto for a day of meetings and then get in the car to return, all within a 20-hour period.
  13. Licked Lots of Envelopes – In promoting clients and positioning their interests, Chris and Lisa have managed countless mailouts. They have stuffed well over 30,000 envelopes for one client alone over a course of 8 years. Today, they manage even more mailouts, however, it is much easier emailing to lists rather than stuffing envelopes.
  14. Lasting Loyalties – Within CG&A’s core group of consultants is the same graphic artist and the same web developer for over 25 years ago. These talented individuals are not only good at what they do, they are great people.
  15. Most demanding client: Ottawa Transition Board – Chris George served as the lead counsel to the Ottawa Transition Board and managed the communications office team through the pivotal year of transition activities for the 13 municipalities in the National Capital Region. Results of the 14-months of tireless efforts was the amalgamation on January 1, 2001 of the region’s councils and administrations into the new City of Ottawa.
  16. Most rewarding client: MADD Canada – Through the 1990s and into the 2000s, CG&A worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada managing their national public relations and government affairs programs. This service was very rewarding – helping the families of victims of impaired driving, promoting the organization and its awareness efforts, and launching a multifaceted advocacy program to advance new laws in Ottawa and in numerous provinces.
  17. “A Career Accomplishment” with the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada – For more than two decades CG&A was the communications company of record to support the federal advocacy activities of provincial and territorial education ministers within the CMEC Copyright Consortium. In 2012, the copyright landscape for the Canadian education sector shifted positively with the passage of a new copyright law and a Supreme Court decision, both validating the ministers’ copyright policy position.
  18. Pandemic Years – During the shutdowns and mandates of the COVID pandemic, CG&A experienced no disruption of service, given the company’s established mobile work model. In fact, CG&A public relations business actually increased through 2020 and 2021 with many companies and associations forced to make adjustments to their communications.
  19. Lengthy Client Relations – Chris George is proud of the duration of the contracts with two of its largest clients. CG&A provided government affairs and public relations for the CMEC Copyright Consortium for 22 years and for MADD Canada for over 14 years.
  20. Favourite Meeting Place: Parliament Hill – It is difficult to tire of making the trek to a Member of Parliament’s office for a meeting.  There is something very special about being in a Hill office – something, because of the Centre Block’s renovations, will not happen again for until sometime in the 2030s!
  21. Political Involvement – Through the years, Chris George has managed electoral campaigns at every level of government – for mayoralty, provincial, and federal candidates. Lisa George is no stranger to politics either as she has worked on projects in the offices of every level of government. Fortunately, since walking away from their Parliament Hill offices in 1993, neither have ever had to depend on politics for a livelihood.
  22. Political News Commentary – Chris George is a regular contributor to a weekly political news column in The Niagara Independent. The column is known for its fact-based critiques of the Ottawa scene and has a readership from across Canada
  23. The By George Journal – Since 1994, the company published a print newsletter that featured quotes, jokes, and political and wordsmith articles. In 2008, CG&A began producing the online By George Journal – and today it is supplemented with Facebook and X posts.
  24. Published Works – The company has produced a dozen publications through the years, including a popular e-book Epic Political Jokes and Quotes as well as two By George Treasury compilations of the best of the By George Journal. There are plans to re-issue a few publications as e-books in the coming year.
  25. Two Cross-Province Moves – Over a glass of wine with good friends, Chris and Lisa made the decision in 2002 to pack up home and business and move across the province to the Niagara Region. Eleven years later, over a glass of wine with good friends, they made the decision to move back across the province to the Ottawa area. (They are pleased to note that GG&A lost no clients as a result of the moves.)
  26. Office Location – CG&A currently operates from an addition in Chris and Lisa’s century home in Almonte, Ontario – a small Ottawa Valley town that is 40 minutes from Parliament Hill. Point of interest: the house was built in 1875 for the first school master of Almonte High School, and rumour has it that the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, was tutored on the front porch.
  27. Volunteering – Chris George has been involved in numerous volunteer initiatives through the years, but the most memorable ones are the Niagara Child Advocacy Centre where he served as Board Chair, and the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative, where he was a founding director. Most recently, CG&A supported a relief fund effort to support Ontario hospitality establishments survive the COVID pandemic shutdowns and disruptions.
  28. Healthy Living – Lisa George has always been interested in healthy living and a healthy diet. In 2015, she spent a year studying holistic nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and now has her Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) designation.
  29. Cycling – Chris George is pursuing his interests in cycling by volunteering in the development of local cycle tourism. CG&A is currently contributing to the establishment and promotion of an exciting cycle loop connecting Ottawa to the Ottawa Valley – the Mississippi Ottawa Rivers Experience (cycle MORE).
  30. Love Persists – Chris and Lisa are proud to say that after 30 years of working together, living together, and raising kids together their love persists. The two planned their business in Fall 1993 and it was less than two years later that they married. It was another five years before the birth of their first son. (In many ways, one could say, CG&A Communications has been a labour of love.)

To read more about the history of the company, click: On passing the 30 year milestone.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor, news commentator, and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com.

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