It may not sell its products in B.C., but South Surrey-based Endurance Wind Power is a worldwide success in the wind-to-energy business.
It has built its business by designing, manufacturing and selling wind turbines to a viable market for smaller machines – as opposed to the immense larger utility turbines most people associate with wind power.
The company got a rare opportunity to show off its plant operations May 1 for a group of 30 Surrey Board of Trade members, as part of the sixth annual Surrey Industry Tour.
Busloads of SBOT members toured a total of 14 businesses, including Charcoal and Woodz/Holiday Inn Express, ABC Recycling, Columbia Plastics, BC Plant Health Care in Cloverdale and Campbell Heights; as well as businesses in other Surrey neighbourhoods.
“We call it ‘farm-wind’,” Endurance global marketing director Bill Bishop explained to the group. “Its energy generated in the same place as it’s used.”
And he explained that the largest market for the company’s products – produced at the 24 Avenue headquarters’ plant and also a factory near Birmingham in the U.K. – is, indeed, farmers.
“They benefit in three ways; by generating their own power, through government feed-in-tariff (FIT) subsidies, and anything they don’t use they can sell to their local grid,” he said.
Endurance has sold some 1,000 of its turbines worldwide (including the U.S. and Canada) and some 700 in the U.K. alone, Bishop said.
Manufacturing manager Barry O’Rourke led SBOT members through Endurance’s “simple, lean and highly effective” assembly operation, geared to a prominently placed flow chart mapping the progress of units through each phase of production up to shipping.
He noted that the tour coincided with the first week in production of a new product, the E4660 – an upgrade from 50kW to 85kW of the company’s standard E3120 turbine.
Both O’Rourke and Bishop added that, rather than simply manufacturing others’ designs under contract, Endurance keeps its designers on-site and actively involved in the production process.
Among design features pointed out by O’Rourke was a function that would turn blades away from the wind under overload conditions – a feature unique to Endurance machines, he said.
Bishop noted that some 50 of the Endurance machines in the U.K. are operated by the company itself, on leased land, for purposes of research and development.
The U.K. factory produces larger, heavier-grade wind turbines, the company’s X-class, which generate 225w – but these are used in higher-wind applications, Bishop explained. The E-class, with shorter blades (standing some 50 metres high) are the efficient standard for lower-wind operations, he added.
While there is a certain irony that all of Endurance’s products are exported outside B.C. – low hydro-power rates make it unfeasible to market the wind turbines here – the company has been garnering increasing attention locally through its successful business model and through events such as the SBOT tour.
The company was also named business of the year for 2014 in the 15-plus-employee category at the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards in January.