Tectorian of the Week

flyzoneUnited Engineering has been around a long time – 93 years. They started out as a small repair shop, eventually grew to serve local industry and became heavily involved with forestry. As the economy changed so did their focus as they started working on structural steel projects. United has always distinguished themselves from the competition by being leaders in technology. In 1991 they added two state of the art machines that distinguished them from other steel and machine shops locally and abroad. They were just getting warmed up for a major capital purchase 10 years later in 2001 when they acquired a CNC burning table and started stocking their own steel. Today Victoria based United Engineering excels in steel fabrication and machining.

What do they fabricate?
United does a lot of work on marine related projects (barge abutments, steel stairs, floating leads for BC Ferries) but recently they made the news for their role in helping Vancouver-based Flyzone Bodyflight become so successful. While Bodyflight is based out of Vancouver – virtually all of their manufacturing happens right here in Victoria. Their product, Flyzone, gives extreme sports enthusiasts the opportunity to experience human flight. That’s right: human flight. They do this by using a patented mobile vertical wind tunnel that gives a person the sensation of sky diving without the flight–or the parachute. The wind tunnels are 10 feet in diameter and channel winds of up to 200 kph that virtually lift a person off of the ground. The “Vancouver Sun” calls it “skydiving without the terror.” As you can imagine putting together this type of machinery and making it safe, is a complicated engineering problem.

Local Benefits
United Engineering currently employs 30 people in full time positions. The FlyZone project by itself involves the manufacturing of a semi stationary multi-level units that are suitable for military applications, family fun and corporate team building. These units, which can be outfitted to be open air or closed chamber, cost about $1M each with 80% of the components being sourced from Canadian suppliers. All of those components have to be assembled and fortunately, the majority of assembly happens right here in Victoria. United Engineering and other local engineering firms have been signaled out for their role in making Flyzone a success.

To learn more about FlyZone BodyFlight, visit their website or Facebook page. To learn more about United Engineering check out their webpage.


Are You Dropping Tasks?


If you are using task or project management software you might want to consider giving Droptask a try. Free (right now) and completely visual it works very differently than your standard PM program (which are, basically, lists). The creators of Droptask, were at some point, greatly annoyed at people’s inability to clearly and easily understand what projects they were on, what was a priority and what other people were working on. At a quick glance Droptask allows you to do all of those things. It is still relatively new but they do have iOS apps available at the moment with Android support on the way. They are working on the Freemium model so a free version will always exist but a pro version is due to be released soon. Check out a full review from PC Magazine here.

Accessing Asia

supplychainmgtIf you are trying to get products delivered to Asia and specifically the Chinese market logistics can be a challenge to say the least. At this round table discussion, lead by Michael Mulder FTS Environmental, we will explore join effort possibilities as well as freight and container consolidation and optimization strategies. The group will also be looking to identify other professionals, willing to lead discussions, who deal with other aspects of supply chain management. As with all VIATeC hosted round table discussions this is a great opportunity to network and learn from peers who face similar challenges on a regular basis. Register here.

Round Table Profile

RecordTableBusiness development is typically top of mind for most companies. The more you focus the better it gets, so why not start the year off right with this VIATeC hosted roundtable discussion. Be part of a lively group, led by Rob Cooper (PlusROI Marketing), on Business Development, Marketing & Sales. Getting unfettered access to Rob and the rest of the group, for free, is a great way to stay on top of the latest trends and work on your own professional development. Group discussions also allow for networking and learning in a way that is only possible when you are working with your peers. Register here.

We All Need A Hand Sometimes

ZirtualWebThis just popped up on Techcrunch a couple of days ago. The company is called ‘Zirtual’ and they provide a service whereby you can have a virtual assistant complete all sorts of tasks on your behalf. While we think the service solves a definite pain point, it is perhaps the business model of putting a SAAS shell on top of a service business that we find particularly interesting. They go to great lengths to really communicate just how focused they are on the quality of the service they are providing. Their website is clean, crisp. modern and generally leads you to believe exactly what they are saying is true. Check it out – the service may not be for you, but it is always exciting to see how another startup is strategically managing their launch. Read the full story on TechCrunch.

Tectorian of the Week

AXYS Technologies began in 1974 with a consulting contract with Environment Canada. They were asked to conduct a study on waves that eventually resulted in several marine technology devices. From there they never stopped and eventually AXYS was designing, manufacturing, installing and servicing sensors not only across Canada but also the world. Their sensors can be found on Canada’s  ‘Marine Weather Buoy Network’ as well as buoy networks in Italy, Columbia, Spain, Portugal, the United States and Brazil.


HydroLevel Mini was developed to accurately measure water levels from a buoy.

Recently The Chronicle Herald, out of Nova Scotia, published a story that provides a real world example of AXYS Technologies sensors saving lives and providing real economic benefits to Eastern Canada. The ‘SmartATLANTIC Herring Cove Buoy’ project was completed using AXYS sensors designed to tell, among other things, if a storm is approaching. For harbour pilots, who themselves assist other ships in dangerous and congested waters, it can literally be a lifesaver. One safety concern in particular, harbour pilots getting on and off ships via rope ladder, should get much less dangerous. There are about 3,000 such transfers per year which typically result in at least one fatality per season. This project has been a 10 year undertaking, involves a network of buoys, associated AXYS sensors, a website and of course the many dedicated professionals in the Nova Scotia marine industry. The project is projected to save taxpayers $2.6M per year due to less ocean related accidents and fatalities.

Arctic Lake Monitoring System deployed in Noell Lake to collect data year-round.

Arctic Lake Monitoring System deployed in Noell Lake to collect data year-round.

AXYS also just finished filling an order for an Oceanographic Ocean Institute in Ecuador. News like this, after 40 years in business, is actually starting to become common place. They continue to push, developing new products, markets and revenue streams. Many people outside of VIATeC wouldn’t even know this company, based out of Sidney, even exists. Yet there they are, day after day, quietly getting things done on a world stage. They continue to successfully compete head to head with some of the biggest companies in the world while being an inspiration to all of us here at home. AXYS – our hats are off to you and your entire team.

SXSW – Tectoria House is a GO!

SXSWWe’ve done it again. We’ve found accommodation that will house lots of Tectorians at SXSW. Last year three local tech firms joined us and we hope you’re among them this year. We assume that you know what SXSW is, but if you don’t, check it out HERE. Tectoria House is less than 3 miles from downtown and we will have a rental car to shuttle people daily. We have something for just about every budget – from King beds to sleeping bags on the floor. So if you are ready to head to the tech/film/music event of the year to take in keynotes, network your face off or spread the word about what you’re working on, send Robbie a note and book your spot: raylesworth@viatec.ca

Check out the accommodations here.