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Fighting Homelessness in Our Community, One Night at a Time

MaryAnne Connor & Merinda Widmer
Merinda presents her check to NightShift Founder MaryAnne Connor.

Surrey BC is a city in a period of growth. The third fastest-growing city in Canada, Surrey welcomes more than 1000 new residents every month. It’s affordable housing prices make it a desirable spot for young couples and recent immigrants to set up their home.

But not everyone is benefiting from this economic boom. In Surrey alone, an average of 600 people sleep on the streets every night, in doorways, makeshift shelters, tents, or dilapidated motor homes without heat or plumbing. This number soars to over 2,000 when you count the entire homeless population of the Greater Vancouver area.

Surrey is also the home of Raven Supply. Our head office is located near the rapidly growing Newton area. Our staff live nearby and know the businesses and community first hand. We also try to do what they can to give back to the city when we can. 

Inside Sales Engineer Merinda Widmer kept this in mind when she chose NightShift Street Ministries as the recipient of her Raven Giving Fund donation. 

“I chose NightShift as my non-profit organization because of the amazing things they’re doing for Surrey’s homeless population,” she explains. “At a time when more than 7,000 people in our province are homeless, their services are more crucial than ever.”

NightShift Kitchen
New kitchen facilities at NightShift.

During a 2018 survey of the homeless population in BC, 58% of individuals surveyed reported that they live with two or more medical conditions, while 44% reported one medical condition and 33% reported a physical disability. When it came to mental illness, the numbers were also sobering, with 40% of respondents battling mental health conditions as well as spending cold nights on the street. 

“It’s always surprised me how many misconceptions people have about the homeless community,” Merinda says, adding that she believes that no one is to fault for ending up without a roof over their head. 

“This organization does fantastic things to help our local homeless population,” she continues. “In 2017, NightShift provided 36,500 hot meals, 3,500 warm blankets, 810 safe nights of sleep for women, and 105 evenings of the car bus. All this and more without any government funding.”

Merinda’s Raven Giving Fund contribution of $250.00 will go towards helping NightShift continue this valuable work. Every year, the Raven Giving Fund gives each of our employees $250.00 to donate to a charity or non-profit organization of their choice. Thanks Merinda for being a great community member and an outstanding member of the Raven team!

To find out more about NightShift, please click here. 

Linna and Merinda Visit the Land of the Midnight Sun

 

Downtown Whitehorse YK
Storefronts in Downtown Whitehorse. Photo courtesy of the US Embassy in Canada.

Raven Supply works with consultants and contractors from all across BC and the Yukon. Phone calls and emails are nice, but when we get the chance, we love to travel to meet these partners in person and get to know the city they call home, too.

So when Merinda Widmer and Linna Luu got the opportunity to take a short trip to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territories in June, they jumped at the chance. 

Merinda and Linna, two of our engineers, were especially excited to check in on a few of our boiler projects in person, as well as find out more about this community that Raven Supply works in.

Bryan Boilers at Whitehorse General Hospital
Bryan Boilers at Whitehorse General Hospital.

“We got to see the three Bryans we have at Whitehorse General Hospital,” says Linna. “We also dropped by Yukon College to see how our venting compared to the other stacks.”

Impressed (but not surprised) with how well these projects were holding up, next stop on the agenda was getting to know the people and places of Whitehorse. 

“It was great getting to meet all the consultants, engineering firms and contractors we work with on a regular basis,” explains Merinda. “It’s fantastic to finally put faces to these names we know so well!”

“Everyone was very welcoming and took time out of their schedules to speak with us. The sense of community is very apparent!” adds Linna. 

With a population of around 25,000, a strong sense of community in a smaller city like Whitehorse is to be expected. But our engineers enjoyed the way this community atmosphere existed side by side with bustling downtown core of this Provincial Capital.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of restaurants, cafes, and breweries Whitehorse has to offer,” explains Linna. “Given Whitehorse’s population, I was expecting only a handful of eateries to choose from. Boy was I wrong!”

MacBride Museum
Inside of the MacBride Museum.

In fact, Linna and Merinda found more than enough to keep them busy each of their three days in the city. 

“The MacBride Museum was very interesting to walk through,” recalls Linna. “We were also lucky enough to have Bob Baxter from Yukon Brewing give us a tour of the brewery and show us the engineering that was involved in their process!”

“One afternoon, Linna and I visited the Miles Canyon suspension footbridge and got to see one of the many amazing views Whitehorse has to offer!” says Merinda. 

Miles Canyon
The view at Miles Canyon.

“I’ll remember to bring my hiking shoes and explore some nearby trails on my next visit,” chimes in Linna, laughing. 

No good trip is complete without trying out a few favourite local feasts. 

“Last but not least,” says Merinda, “Trying the famous bread pudding from Klondike Rib & Salmon was definitely a highlight.”

With so many highlights, the time flew by, and soon Merinda and Linna were back on a plane heading home to Surrey BC. But for these avid travelers, another trip to meet our community of suppliers, contractors and clients is surely just a short hop and adventure away. 

 

Raven Supply Hits the Road (Again)! Making Visits to Our Friends in Michigan and Indiana

Linna and Merinda poise outside the Niles Factory in Michigan

This April, two of our team members headed south to spend time getting know the people behind the products we support.

Inside Sales Engineer Merinda Widmer and Project Engineer Linna Luu hopped on a plane heading to the Midwest of the good ol’ U.S. of A to stop in and visit two of our vendors.

First stop was Niles Steel Tanks in Niles, Michigan. Niles Steel Tanks fabricates custom built pressure vessels for a variety of industries, and we often use their products on commercial and institutional projects throughout BC.

“We were very impressed at just how organized this factory is, especially with so many things going on,” remarked Merinda. A highlight of the visit was seeing the process it takes to make the Ultonium™ glass lining that Niles uses for their hot water applications.

Tanks being manufactured at Niles Steel

“It was fascinating to see the vessels being fired at 1500° F, the melting point of Ultonium™, and then “soaked” at that temperature for a period of time, which bonds the Ultonium™ to the steel substrate,” she says.

Merinda and Linna were also amused by a blast from the past when their guide Terry shared some photos from the earliest days of Niles Steel Tanks. The photos showed tanks being built from the ground up in the back of trucks! Even more remarkable though is previous owner Jerome C. Woods’ legacy of helping to develop the ASME code that is now a standard required of all boiler supplies.

Niles Steel tanks wait to be shipped in Michigan

Next up on the itinerary was a quick road trip south to Peru, Indiana, home of the Byran Steam factory.

Bryan Steam has been in the steam business for more than 100 years, and is the leader in flexible water tubing. In fact, their flexible water tubes were a staple of steam operated tractors- that is, until motors overtook this market.

These days, Bryan Steam has transformed their water tube technology into leading boiler products. Bryan Steam has an advantage over other boiler manufacturers because they manufacture boilers that can be disassembled at the factory and the reassembled at their final destination. This is especially important in locations with restricted space, for example when a contractor needs to replace a boiler in a mechanical room with limited access.

Linna and Merinda stand outside the Bryan Steam factory in Peru, Indiana

“Visiting Bryan was such a good experience,” says Linna. “Witnessing a knock down boiler in person really makes you appreciate all the work that goes into manufacturing a flexible tube boiler.”

But Merinda and Linna weren’t just sightseeing- they were at Bryan Steam with a specific project in mind.

An inside view of the Bryan flexible tube boiler

“Bryan Steam is providing the knock down boiler we’re using in our retrofit project with Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital. This is the first time we’ve used one of these knock-down models,” explains Linna. Linna and Merinda were there to learn first hand the ins and outs of knocking down and reassembling the Bryan Steel boiler for this project. To find out more about our involvement in this rural healthcare initiative, please click here.

Their time in Peru, Indiana wasn’t all work though- the Bryan Steam team took our Raven Supply roadtrippers out for a meal.

“For lunch, we enjoyed a favourite local restaurant, where we were introduced to the famous pork tenderloin sandwich,” recalls Linna, laughing.

Now Merinda and Linna are back, and armed with even more knowledge to bring to our projects and customers. Feel free to ask them more about their travels next time you’re in the office.

Meet The Team: Our Exceptional Engineers

Nic, Bennett, Linna, and Merinda of the Raven Supply Engineering Team

Taking a look at our team of engineers, you could easily mistake this bright crew for a group of students. But proving the adage that age has no bearing on one’s success, Raven Supply’s tight team of talented engineers may be young, but offer the right combination of experience and knowledge to stand out as industry leaders.

Shortly after graduating from UBC Integrated Engineering program in 2014, Nic Sun joined our team in the role of an Outsides Sales Engineer. Nic first got to know Raven Supply as a company during his 2012 rotation as our coop students, but these days he’s known around here as the VP of Engineering.

That means that Nic is always in motion- visiting engineering and contractor offices and also working with our clients one-on-one to determine their unique needs. But if you can catch him mid-action, the skills he’s gained through extended service training as well as hands on experience on the job site are a treat worth watching, and his success proves that he’s guiding the engineering team in the right direction.

Nic’s fast upward trajectory speaks to the importance of Raven Supply’s policy on employee growth. Here at Raven Supply, we do the best we can to give our employees the opportunity to flex and grow into the right position for their skills and talents.

Bennett Lee is another example of rising talent that has become an invaluable part of our team.  Bennett Lee came to our company as a coop student in 2007, and then joined our team full time in 2008 after graduating from UBC’s Bachelor of Commerce program.  Initially working with our clients as a Venting Estimator, Bennett quickly graduated to VP of Venting Sales. Now days, Bennett is the one training our incoming co-op students as well as our entire team on the latest and greatest in venting products.

Linna Luu stepped into her role as an Inside Sales Engineer in 2016 after completing her Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Alberta. Linna joined the team at the perfect time, just as we needed a capable new individual to round out our Venting Department. Since then she’s excelled in a series of roles at Raven Supply, demonstrating exceptional technical abilities and close attention to the important small details. Currently in the essential position of Project Engineer, Linna is extremely valuable to our team and to our customers, offering adaptations for each project’s unique needs flawlessly and with ease.

Merinda Widmer also comes to us from the University of Alberta’s Chemical Engineering program. The most recent addition to our Engineering Team, Merinda joined us in 2018 as an Inside Sales Engineer. First hired to support the needs of our many venting customers, Merinda had proven herself to be a valuable all around team member. Now her responsibilities extend to design projects, tanks, and other parts. This quick learner with a keen eye for detail also brings a lovely outgoing personality. We know Merinda is destined for great things, and we can’t wait to see what her future here at Raven Supply holds.

Truly, Raven Supply wouldn’t be the company it is today without these bright and ambitious individuals. A big THANKS to our Engineering Team- we couldn’t do it without you!

Supporting Rural Healthcare, One Boiler at a Time

Cutaway of the Weishaupt WM-G20/3-ZM Gas Burner

Raven Supply has secured the boiler supply contract for Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital with heating contractor West Kootenay Mechanical. This retrofit project is engineered by top-tier global design firm Stantec.

A Bryan boiler with a Weishaupt burner in action

Located in Trail, BC, between Grand Forks and Nelson, Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital provides core physician specialties, 24 hour emergency and trauma services, Level 2 laboratory, acute and obstetrical care, psychiatry, and chemotherapy services for the West Kootenay region, covering Kettle Valley, east of Castlegar through to Nelson.

We will be supplying a Bryan RV700 high pressure steam boiler with a Weishaupt WM-G20/3-ZM High Efficiency Gas Burner. The reliability and efficiency of the burner is imperative for the Interior Health Authority on a project in such a remote area. The Weishaupt linkageless burners are virtually service free after being commissioned. Additionally, Bryan boilers are known for their long lasting, fully field serviceable units which allow any contractor to remove and replace boiler tubes with ease.

Due to the tight installation required for these particular units, the boilers will be shipped as “knock down” boilers, directly from the Bryan Steam Facility in Peru, Indiana. While the section block will be fully assembled, all of the trim and jackets will be left off and assembled on site. Raven Supply will be flying a technician along with Raven’s Project Engineer Linna Luu and Inside Sales Engineer Merinda Widmer to supervise the disassembly of these units to ensure the project continues smoothly once these units are on site.

We are looking forward to working with Stantec and Interior Health on another fantastic project.