Not your average steel warehouse
Where many companies still think adding “green” technology to their buildings is nothing more than an expensive public relations effort, one local company is showing how that technology can be turned into profit.
Along the way, Hamilton-based CareGo Innovation Solutions is also catching the attention of European companies and governments anxious to reduce their carbon footprint on the world.
“We want to prove the point for other companies about the results of this technology,” CareGo president Demetrius Tsafaridis said. “The savings have been tremendous. For very little extra capital, we’ve been able to generate real savings we can pass on to our customers.”
CareGo’s technology showpiece is its Plant 19 operation on the bayfront. From the outside, it looks pretty much like any other steel warehouse in the world — a large empty space where coils of steel sit until a steelmaker is ready to coat it for an end customer or that customer is ready to bash it into auto parts.
Inside, however, the story is different. Where traditional warehouse design calls for a truck bay in the centre with storage area on both sides, Plant 19’s truck bay is at the end of the plant, allowing most of the area to be sealed off. In addition, the outer doors of the bay are kept closed, a combination that has already paid handsome savings on energy bills.
“The old way really wasted a lot of energy,” explained Bob Edwards, general manager of CareGo’s Green Age Design unit. “We’re showing companies can have a real effect on their energy costs.”
Another problem for steel warehouses is the effect of condensation on the coils — that’s especially critical when the metal is intended for exposed auto parts. The traditional way of handling that has been to maintain a temperature within the warehouse. It works, but it involves heating a lot of empty air.
CareGo clears that hurdle with a system of sensors in the transfer car that notes the coil’s temperature and then moves it to a special area where a system of radiant tubes slowly raises its temperature to a point where condensation won’t form.
Other systems capture rain water on the building’s roof and use it to flush the toilets inside, an outside storage ponds holds any excess until it can be filtered and sent directly back into the bay rather than through the city’s sewage treatment system, a solar panel along one wall provides enough heat that Union Gas tested its meters three times to be sure they were recording the plant’s use properly.
The warehouse operation has been automated to the point where a single employee is needed to monitor the system as it gathers information from customers and then instructs its cranes which coils to pick out and to remember what was moved where to fill that order. That work can all be done at night when electricity rates are cheaper.
“That lets us become part of the value chain, not just a warehouse,” said Martin Boni, director of technology and solutions for CareGo’s Carelynx Corporation unit.
Even the floor of the warehouse was built with an eye to environmental impact. It’s made of interlocking bricks rather than poured concrete. That means if the plant ever has to be moved, more than 90 per cent of the material can go with the company.
“It’s really like a big Meccano set,” Tsafaridis said. “If we ever have to move shop, we can just pick it up and go.”
Other environmental features of Plant 19 include a double-skinned roof, extra insulation and high-speed truck doors to control the temperature inside the building, a heat recovery ventilator to expel warm, stale air from inside, and draw and warm incoming fresh air. About 45 per cent of the material that went into constructing the building was recycled.
Adding all that green technology to the plant when it was built in 2003 increased the construction cost by about 10 per cent, but that was recovered in 14 months through operational savings. It was the first industrial building in Canada certified to the gold standard by the Canada Green Building Council.
That success has prompted a change in the company’s corporate culture — spurred by a decision to pay a portion of the savings out to the company’s 105 employees as a bonus. The chance for that “something extra” in the pay envelope now has workers shouting at smokers to close the door behind them when they step out for a puff.
This article is for personal use only courtesy of TheSpec.com – a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Michael Marini with CHML – April 13, 2012
Michael Marini, Marketing Coordinator with Hamilton Economic Development joined CHML’s Scott Thompson LIVE from the newly restored Lister Block to chat about recent Hamilton investment stories.
Click here to listen.
Michael Marini with CHML – April 2, 2012
Michael Marini, Marketing Coordinator with Hamilton Economic Development joined CHML’s Scott Thompson to chat about recent Hamilton investment stories.
Click here to listen.
Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – April 2012
In the April 2012 newsletter of Hamilton Highlights…
- 2011 Annual Review
- Startup Weekend 2
- Maple Leaf Foods go Green in Hamilton
- Start a Conversation
- Did You Know…
Global Sensation Startup Weekend Returns to Hamilton
Hamilton, ON (April 16, 2012) – Hamilton’s Regional Innovation Centre (RIC), Innovation Factory (iF) has teamed up once again with Software Hamilton to bring the international movement of Startup Weekend to Hamilton this spring. Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders & entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate & empower individuals, teams & communities. Attendees come share to ideas, form teams & launch startups.
Click here to read the full release (PDF)
Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – March 2012
In the March 2012 newsletter of Hamilton Highlights…
- The Green Economy
- Hamilton Chamber on the Move
- A Salute to Small Business
- Did You Know…
Entrepreneurs find sweet spot for cold treat venture
Take some sweet ice, a tweet or two, some titters, and before you know it, two young Hamilton entrepreneurs have managed to raise $2,450 out of the $4,000 they need for their business — and they still have 21 days to go until their fundraising deadline.
Meg Makins and Lindsay Churchman, both 25, launched their Sweet Ice snow cone business last summer as a bit of a lark. The pair figured it would satisfy their craving for a creative outlet and support Art Crawl, other businesses, festivals, and just be plain fun to do.
Both already have full-time day jobs — Makins at a nonprofit, and Churchman as a mortgage broker.
They make snow cones the old-fashioned way by using local produce (Bennett’s in Ancaster is a frequent stop) to make their own syrups. They’re served in a paper cup.
Makins and Churchman would show up at a wedding or event, set up the snow cone maker and bottles of syrup, and heat up the party with some ice.
Then things started to snowball.
First of all, there was the donation of a 1962 Shasta camping trailer, a piece of equipment they longed for but never thought would appear.
It needed a good $4,000 in renovations, but while the first year was a good one (they broke even) it wasn’t good enough to spend thousands on a trailer and a dream.
The two decided to try to raise capital by resorting to bloggers. They call it Operation Shasta.
About a week ago, they launched an online fundraising campaign to pay for the Shasta’s renovation and take their business on the road.
The city is still scratching its head over how to licence their kind of business model, but the pair are pretty good-natured about it, said Churchman.
“We’re working really closely with the city to get our licensing straightened out,” she said.
Meanwhile, Makins has put together a cute little video — warning content contains giggling — and started tweeting.
Three weeks to go and they’re 60 per cent toward their goal.
“We are really surprised,” she said. “We understand if people can’t support us financially, so we just asked for them to talk about it. We feel very supported.”
Their venture was nominated in the packed Rookie of the Year category at the Tourism Hamilton awards. There were 12 nominees and fellow mobile food startup Gorilla Cheese took the prize.
In addition to tweeting and Facebook posts, the pair will also be participating in this month’s Art Crawl, with an after-party event at The Baltimore House on King William Street on Friday, April 13.
“People can come and either cry with us because we’re not close to our target or we can cheer together because we made it,” said Makins.This article is for personal use only courtesy of TheSpec.com – a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.
National Conference on Urban Renewal Moving to Hamilton
Hamilton, ON – April 2, 2012 – Downtown Hamilton will be a living laboratory for best practices in urban renewal when the Strategy Institute holds its fourth annual Transforming and Revitalizing Downtown Summit in Hamilton (June 6-7th, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Hamilton). This is the first time the event has ever been out of Downtown Toronto.
Click here to read the full release (PDF)
Mac students to get employment tour of the city
It’s the business version of Hamilton’s art crawl.
A first-ever employment crawl hosted by McMaster University’s Student Success Centre was inspired by the popularity of the James Street North event.
The goal of the April 25-26 event is to introduce the city and its employers to McMaster students.
“I joined a number of community committees and everyone was talking about wanting to keep Mac grads in our city,” said Gisela Oliveira, employment services co-ordinator at the Student Success Centre.
But many students see their time in Hamilton as a “pit stop. They’re here to get an education, but they see Toronto as the place to start a career,” she said.
“They don’t really know what Hamilton has to offer. When I tell students I went skating at the pier at the outdoor rink, they look at me like I’m crazy … We want to show them there is more to Hamilton than Westdale.”
So two buses each day will take final-year Mac students and recent grads to visit a series of employers in manufacturing, technology, health, social services, creative industries, government and finance.
There are still a few places open for employers interested in taking part and registration for students is ongoing.
Employers are asked to offer a tour of their facility and a presentation to their student visitors about present or future job opportunities and why Hamilton is the place they’ve chosen to do business.
Hamilton’s emergency services, police, fire and ambulance are taking part. Students will get a tour of the city’s training academy on the south Mountain and will hear about opportunities for jobs in those services.
Rosemarie Auld, manager of human resources with Hamilton Police Service, says the department hires from all educational backgrounds and is constantly recruiting for police officers as well as a wide range of civilian positions.
The service will hire 25 officers by the end of the year and is looking for clerical and human resources staff, emergency dispatchers and IT specialists.
Auld says McMaster grads are attractive to the department because of their communication skills, their diversity and their existing ties to the city.
“If we can retain students who are graduating from Mac with careers in Hamilton, it’s positive for the city,” she said.
Cobalt Connects (formerly the Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts) will also host the student tour. Steph Seagram, community connector lead, says her goal is to show students how their studies at the university can link with creative industries and entrepreneurs across the city.
Seagram hopes the employment crawl will inspire students to explore the city on their own once they see what it can offer.
“I commend Mac for doing this, for getting students off the campus and connecting them with people in the city. It’s fabulous.”
Other employers confirmed to take part are: Stryker Canada, YWCA downtown Hamilton, North Hamilton Community Health Centre, City of Hamilton Small Business Enterprise Centre, McMaster Innovation Park and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Oliveira doesn’t know of another university doing a similar employment outreach event.
The goal is to follow this up each year, perhaps eventually offering a city orientation to first-year students, says Oliveira.
“It’s important to get them early because by their final year, their plans are made. Nothing is going to change their mind. But if we start in year one showing them what the city is about and the opportunities that are here, we can convince them to stay.”
The employment crawl also includes a two-minute video contest in which students are asked to submit what they like about Hamilton. The winner will be showcased at the closing network event at Theatre Aquarius on April 26.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator.
Waste hauler is Hamilton’s outstanding small business
An industrial waste hauling firm now expanding into the GTA is Hamilton’s outstanding small business for 2011.
Joseph Haulage Inc., of Binbrook, was honoured Monday at a Hamilton Chamber of Commerce evening gala at Carmen’s, which attracted more than 350 city business leaders.
The Sheraton Hotel was the winner in the large business category.
“We are all thrilled,” said Mirella Brun del Re, executive meeting specialist at the hotel, who accepted that award.
“Everyone worked so hard during the renovations.”
Owner Darko Vranich plans to upgrade the lobby within a year, following renovations to all the rooms.
Chamber judge Peter Ipema said the Sheraton stood out for its innovative and creative rewards for employees.
Joseph Haulage also focuses on employees, said president Geoffrey Joseph.
“We’ve invested a lot in safety and training and hiring. It’s the key to our success,” said Joseph.
Joseph Haulage grew revenues by $15 million between 2010 and 2011 and now operates 37 trucks, employs 30 people and more than 250 contract drivers.
The company focuses on employees, says Joseph, by promoting from within and paying tuition for staff to attend college or university.
The company has landed large contracts for Pan Am Games construction, TTC projects and the expansion of the 407, said Joseph, whose father Joseph K. Joseph founded the company in 1975.
Where there were 25 competitors 10 years ago, there are now just three, he said.
“We decided we would never win clients by price, but always by service. “
City developer Steve Kulakowsky was named the city’s young entrepreneur of 2011. He is a partner in Core Urban Inc., which is currently redeveloping a former school in the James Street North area into upscale condos called the Whitton Lofts.
“It is an honour to be included with Chris Farias,” Kulakowsky said of his fellow nominee, who founded marketing firm Kitestring.
“He does so much in the community, it’s an honour to be included in the same breath as him.”
Kulakowsky, a Hillfield Strathallan College and McMaster University graduate, attributed his success to his business partners and mentors David and Maureen Sauve.
“That’s something this community does so well, mentors its up-and-comers.”
Ipema said he was impressed by Kulakowsky’s willingness to take risks in buying properties.
“It really is fun to do this,” Ipema said of sitting on the judging committee. “Hamilton is just rife with entrepreneurship. We are so ready for growth in this city.”
ECE Software Solutions Inc., which saw its profits grow by 364 per cent, won the communication technology award. In one year revenues soared $300,000, by reaching out to domestic and foreign markets. The company now does business in more than 50 countries.
“I started off with $20 in my pocket and a dream,” chief operating officer Prahalad Ponna said after accepting the award.
“The Internet made it all possible, so I’d like to thank the Internet first and everyone else later.”
During the evening, chamber president Louise Dompierre announced that the business organization will shift its headquarters from the waterfront to the Standard Life building downtown.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina presented awards from the city’s economic development department for business retention and business attraction.
Awards went to Hamilton veterans Fox 40/ Fluke Transportation and Bermingham Foundation Solutions and to newcomers Canada Bread, and animation company Pipeline Studios.
“Thank you for getting this city to a place it’s never been before,” the mayor told those in attendance.
The night’s other awards went to:
Ironman (15 or more years in business) — Agro Zaffiro law firm
Century award: Forsythe Lubrication
Nonprofit: Victoria Park Community Homes
All the award winners will be forwarded for consideration at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce awards.
The gala capped off a daylong event, the city’s first Celebration of Business. The day included a Salute to Small Business luncheon hosted by the city’s Small Business Enterprise Centre, and the economic development department’s recognition of property excellence in the city’s business improvement areas.
Ron Buist, former marketing director of Tim Hortons and creator of the Roll Up the Rim to Win promotion, was the keynote speaker at the luncheon.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator