By: Randy Gaudreau
Being a self-funded company has its advantages. Free from the expectations and the influence of external financers, the company generally has control over the path it chooses to take, how it plans to get there – and everything in between.
After 31 years of consecutive growth designing, manufacturing, and delivering solutions that power live productions, self-funded Ottawa-based Ross Video is very much in control of what it does – and how it does it.
By owning its own manufacturing facilities and taking on all primary research and development in-house, Ross Video is truly free to be the company it wants to be.
So, when an employee voiced their concern about the environmental impact of the company, it could’ve easily ignored the concerns and forged ahead. Instead, the growing company took it as an opportunity and used the feedback as a nudge to go green and commit to a path of sustainability.
“Peter Breedyk, a Brockville resident who has since retired, was the first to seek sustainable practices and was instrumental in eliminating lead solder from the company’s manufacturing and identifying greener packaging and lighting solutions,” explained Jeff Poapst, Chief Manufacturing Officer at Ross Video.
“It was the beginning of the company’s current philosophy of diversity and sustainability.”
While Breedyk’s concerns about the company’s impact on the environment may have directed the company towards a quest for sustainability, it has since grown to become an important factor in every facet of the company as it continues to grow.
Here are three key areas where Ross Video is leading the sustainability charge.
1. Sustainable manufacturing
About an hour’s drive south of Ottawa, you’ll find Ross Video’s manufacturing facility in Iroquois, Ontario, which dates all the way back to the year of the company’s birth in 1974. The historic location at 8 John Street currently employs over 300 of the now 1,500 total Ross Video employees, and is the manufacturing flagship of the company.
In 2021, Ross Video broke ground on a $15 million project to expand of the plant’s square footage by 55,000 square feet to modernize the facility – with a goal set for the facility to achieve Net Zero Carbon before 2030.
Today, the company forecasts they’ll likely reach this milestone next year – well ahead of schedule. And according to Poapst, strategically leveraging the company’s strong and continued growth has helped to boost the process.
“Coming from the luxurious position of extended, year-over-year growth, Ross has been able to use that growth to guide and actually amplify our sustainability efforts in managing our capital investment (in facilities and equipment) such that we’ll achieve Net Zero Carbon in our Iroquois, Ontario factory next year,” he said.
Poapst explained that the recently completed factory expansion features and employs a range of energy-saving innovations, such as a highly effective building envelope, the use of heat pumps in place of fossil fuel-reliant equipment, and energy-efficient LED lighting. The expanded facility is also powered with help of 191 kW of rooftop solar energy generation and even includes 16 EV charging stations for staff to use.
By reviewing the manufacturing process and making improvements, Poapst says over 90% of factory energy usage now comes from renewable sources. And that by increasing the use of solar power and more energy-efficient heating/cooling systems at the facility, they’ll be able to increase that number.
2. Develop products that reduce energy consumption
While production makes up a key part of the company’s overall sustainability fabric – Ross Video is also working to ensure the products and design incorporate smaller physical footprints and reduced power consumption.
According to Poapst, the company’s R&D team in Ottawa is always hard at work innovating new ideas that enhance the products from a sustainability standpoint, including Hyperconverged Platforms that set out to merge production equipment into a single unified platform, giving customers “big production in a small package.”
These platforms bring together multiple independent core components and products such as switchers, routers, audio mixers and audio and video processors, frame-syncs, and multiviewers into a single unified platform – resulting in a compact and efficient workflow that significantly reduces the overall footprint.
Referred to on the company website as “production in a box,” the Ultrix platform is a shining example of Ross’ Hyperconverged Design that helps customers save significantly on power, cost and space – making live production a more sustainable process.
Released in 2022, Ultrix FR12 uses only 2,400 Watts in comparison to a typical, traditional production system that uses much more hardware and about 52,300 Watts – making the FR12 an inherently energy and space-efficient solution.
3. Sustainable – from the inside out
With its own published sustainability policy, Ross has a manifesto to help guide its efforts to reduce its environmental impact in all areas, with the understanding that operating a business can have a negative impact on the environment and society and a commitment to reducing that impact as much as possible.
“Internal policies guide our staff in how we work day-to-day,” explained Poapst, “how we select reusable and recyclable goods, how we prefer to source locally (both for community prosperity and reduced energy usage) and in how we encourage our staff to commit to the same principles.”
These internal policies come together to form a sustainability-focused culture that’s on a constant mission for improvement.
Driven by what’s referred to as the Ross Video Continuous Improvement Philosophy, staff, customers, and suppliers are encouraged to come forward with input on how the company can get better as an organization, whether it’s an idea on how to improve a product, or ways the company uses and employs environmental resources.
Aside from policies that encourage a culture of sustainability, Ross provides staff with dishware and glassware in its kitchens with the goal of reducing disposable items. It also has showers available at the R&D centre in Ottawa as well as the Iroquois factory for those who choose to bike, jog or walk to work.
And as Poapst explained, ongoing hybrid work policies continue to have positive environmental effects as the need for employee commuting remains reduced.
A future of sustainability at Ross Video
As the company nears 50 years of operation, Poapst says Ross’ commitment to sustainability has also helped shape and solidify the company’s identity as a leader in the community and around the world.
“Some of the core values that are so deeply held at Ross specifically encourage responsible corporate citizenship and support for our customers, staff, suppliers and the local community,” he said.
“As not only a leading local employer and a member of the broader broadcast community, we can have an outsized influence on society too, and it’s for these reasons that we’ve embraced an aggressive sustainability effort.”
How to join Ross Video in its drive towards sustainability
Considering Ross’ commitment to sustainability, it’s an important element in the company’s culture and an important factor in determining the best fit to join the team.
“Ross is known for having a strong company culture,” Poapst says. “We use social media and other forms for publication to share what’s important to us, our values and our proudest moments.”
“When recruiting talent, we seek candidates that share our core values.”
If you share Ross Video’s passion for delivering live event solutions in the most sustainable way possible, the company is always on the lookout in the following areas:
- FPGA/ Hardware Developers
- Product Verification and Automation Specialists
- Full Stack Developers
- C/C++ Developers
- Technical Project Managers (Specifically with manufacturing experience)
Visit their Ottawa careers page here to find currently open positions in the Ottawa area.
If you’re a tech company looking to fill open positions, let us know how we can support your company’s hiring efforts:
Reach out to the Invest Ottawa talent team here.
Interested in hearing more about tech opportunities in Ottawa?
Follow the Work in Ottawa LinkedIn page.