In 1972 Henry Heinen, along with his wife Greta, purchased BC Greenhouse Builders, a family owned and operated greenhouse manufacturing company. Heinen had been an employee since 1959 and had larger than life aspirations for the company. Today BC Greenhouse Builders is one of North America’s most successful greenhouse manufacturers, offering turn-key luxury estate greenhouses, conservatories, and garden rooms.
BC Greenhouse Builders is located in Surrey, BC, and offers a wide selection of glass and polycarbonate greenhouses to suit all gardening needs and climates. One of the keys to its success lies in the company’s stringent engineering standards; form and function are essential to each and every structure it designs. Its designs are not only modular and adaptable- they are constructed to handle harsh winter weather including some of the highest snow (32 psf) and wind (85 mph) loads in North America. Now talk about a safe environment for some winter gardening!
BC Greenhouse Builders’ name rose to fame after it was mentioned in an article by Oprah Winfrey for the greenhouse it built for P.S. 216 in Brooklyn, New York. BC Greenhouse Builders was chosen to design the prototype structure used in the Edible School Yard Project, an organization aimed at teaching students in inner city public schools about the benefits of growing food. In doing so, the project aims to empower students and their communities to make healthy choices, or as one fourth grader put it, “Try new foods and don’t yuck anybody’s yum.”
So how does a company like BC Greenhouse Builders stay competitive in a constantly changing world? We spoke with Glen Bolger, BC Greenhouse’s Production Manager, for the answer.
One of BC Greenhouse’s points of differentiation is the design freedom they offer their customers. BC does not restrict the creative process and can modify greenhouses in virtually any way and produce custom greenhouses to suit its customer’s needs and desires.
But being able to support such a lofty product goal in the shop can be difficult. “Our versatile product requires many cut-to-length operations, utilizing various chop and radial arm saws combined with manual measure and mark techniques,” says Bolger.
However, the manual measure and mark method wasn’t fast or accurate enough for Glen’s team. He needed to streamline his production process. When Glen heard about SawGear by TigerStop, an automated fence that could attach to his existing chop saws and radial arms saws, he decided to give it a trial run.
“After a demonstration model loan and a quick cost-benefit analysis, we opted to purchase and install a 12’ SawGear at our busiest saw. As it turns out, the newest piece of technology in the plant is working in conjunction with the oldest, a mid-century DeWalt radial arm saw. This is now a key talking point during plant tours.”
Programming in the lengths needed to cut parts into SawGear’s power head has proved much faster for Glen and his crew. He explains, “SawGear has eliminated the measure, mark, and check measurement routine that occurred for every cut prior to its use. The time savings allows for increased output. In addition, the unit also reduces the potential for errors made from inaccurate markings or tape measure readings, and contributes to a better-fitting high-quality product for our clients. The unit has proven to be easy to install, simple to train operators on, and easy to use on a daily basis,” says Bolger.
“Our first SawGear installation and use has been so successful that we are poised to purchase our second unit,” says Bolger. The new SawGear unit will allow this family owned and operated business to continue their mission of producing top of the line greenhouses for years to come. “This will aid us in achieving our goals of continuous improvement, a top-quality product, and increased profitability.”
Streamlining the production process and cutting costs in wasted materials and employee time, while increasing output has given BC Greenhouse Builders its true competitive edge. It enables the family business, which is now lead by the Heinen’s son, Rick, to continue to maintain the highest quality standards that were set in place more than 64 years ago.
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