H2Flow is Proud to Announce our 30 Year Anniversary
H2Flow Celebrates 30 Years in business
By Michael Albanese
It started as a dream. Literally, the name H2Flow came to me while I was sleeping and was woken up by it. I immediately wrote it on the notepad on my bedside table.
January 2022 marks 30 years in business for H2Flow Equipment Inc., a journey that has taken the company from a one-man basement operation started in 1992 out of a rented house, to being one of the largest water and wastewater companies in Canada.
I was 27 and had little money, did not own a house, still had to payoff student loans, and had no family financial support. Fortunately, my fiancée (and current wife) had a steady job and could pay the bills. I scraped together $7500 and went to the bank. They matched my funds with another $7500 loan (thank you Scotiabank!). This $15,000 was the seed capital that started the company.
The dream was for H2Flow to become a manufacturer’s rep firm representing products for water and wastewater. The first few years were very difficult. I was not from Toronto and did not have connections here, nor schoolmates, having lived and studied in the US prior to arriving in Canada. But I did have connections to manufacturers of this equipment. The technology was new, but municipal users and consultants were not so open to new ideas at that time.
The need shifted towards industrial sales, where clients do not want products, but are looking for complete solutions instead. We were lucky, as at that time the Pulp and Paper sector was embarking on compliance programs, so we pursued a lot of that business which provided much needed income. In just a few years we did projects at several paper mills.
Albert Wakim joined the firm in 1994, proving to be a great asset, eventually becoming the first VP of the company.
In 1996 the company employed four people and moved out of our house and into its first real office, an industrial condo unit north of Toronto.
By the late 1990’s the company enjoyed significant growth. We proved that we were here to stay, and the municipal market was ready to listen to us.
I would say that a big breakthrough was the Walkerton tragedy, unfortunately. This event really increased awareness of the importance of drinking water systems. We represented Trojan, and we were ready to meet the immediate demands of the marketplace with their drinking water product line.
The company’s growth continued, and by 2003 the company employed 10 people. H2Flow was not only representing top manufacturers like Trojan, Fluidyne, Parkson, Leopold and Atara but also offering engineered systems and complete packages to the industrial sector. We never forgot our roots and what kept us alive in the difficult early years. Those industrial customers included the food and beverage and mining sectors, but also the transportation, pulp & paper, metal & steel, chemical and petrochemical industries.
This industrial aspect of the business led H2Flow to develop some of their own technologies, including DAF units, package plants based on extended aeration, SBR, MBBR and MBR, and containerized systems.
In 2006, Lavishkar Bootun, our current VP of Engineering, joined the team and led the development of many of these products.
Also in 2006, a sister company was created, H2Flow Tanks and Systems, to become the exclusive distributor and constructor of Permastore bolted steel tanks across Canada. Darrin Hopper “hopped” on board with us to run that company.
In 2011, an Employee Share Ownership Program was created, where employees could purchase shares of the company and enjoy profit sharing and be able to directly benefit from the fruits of their labour. To date, the company is still fully employee owned.
Philippe Taliana joined the team in 2012 and we opened an office in Montreal, Quebec. This expansion helped H2Flow diversify its customer base. This office has now become a major player in La Belle Provence, and Philippe is currently VP of Sales for the entire company.
Another significant milestone was achieved in 2012 when H2Flow became ISO 9001 certified to better serve its customers. This certification process requires an ongoing commitment to quality as it is a big effort to maintain its compliance.
Through these years, H2Flow kept expanding its product portfolio, signing exclusive representation agreements with Aerzen, Ovivo, Franklin Miller, Biorem, Acme, Con-V-Air, Continental, Biowater and others. We always looking out for the next great technology to bring to our marketplace.
In 2013, H2Flow had an opportunity to provide its first significant export project to the country of Gabon, in Africa. This was a definite test of our in-house engineering capabilities. We designed a complete municipal WWTP for 20,000 people based on SBR technology in bolted steel tanks. Everything had to be thought of in the smallest detail. The entire system was sent in 13 shipping containers and was then built on the ground by our crew along with local labour. This was a milestone for us, especially as the whole process lasted several months but went off without major issues.
Since then, H2Flow has continued to provide many technologies and systems for export markets. In Morocco, we have provided a full system for the largest dairy and citrus producer, a system for a big fish processor and other clients. H2Flow also worked on various mining projects in South America, as well as municipal facilities and resorts in the Caribbean. The US market has also become an important one for us. Exports represent on average 20% of the company’s revenue.
As the company grew, our space needs grew along with it. By 2015 we had filled four adjacent industrial units but required even more space. In 2016 we moved to our current facility, a 20,000 square foot free standing building, equipped with three overhead cranes and outdoor storage. This facility would allow us to work on large products such as containerized systems and larger DAF units.
With the larger space, H2Flow continued to grow and at times it is still amazing to me how far the company has come in 30 years. To oversee this continued growth, Grace Groves our VP of Operations, was brought on board in 2016.
Today, H2Flow is a fully employee-owned company with a staff of over 50 people and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
The company is grouped in four main departments: Sales, Engineering, Service, and Support.
• The Sales group is divided between municipal sales and industrial sales, with reps focusing on certain geographic territories and market segments.
• Engineering maintains in-house design services with engineers experienced in all areas of water and wastewater processes. Our designers are able to provide drawings utilizing AutoCAD and Solidworks.
• The Service group specializes in start-ups, commissioning and onsite operator training. It also performs on-site repairs, troubleshooting and service contracts. We maintain our own in-house PLC programming and can provide remote monitoring.
• Our Support group includes all aspects of management, HR, accounting, IT, marketing, aftermarket parts and shop work.
It is thanks to the dedication of its people that H2Flow has been providing treatment solutions, exceptional customer service and building long lasting relationships with clients and customers for 30 years. We are committed to continue providing the same for many more years to come!
So congratulations H2Flow! I am very thankful to all of you reading this, especially to our customers, that helped make this dream a reality.
Click on the link below to see the video:
H2Flow Celebrates 30 Year Anniversary Video
Jan. 14, 2022, 9:52 a.m.