Olympic Oval's Wooden Arches Fast-Track Firm's Success

February 12, 2010— Penticton, British Columbia

A zamboni cleans the ice at the Oval in preparation for the Olympic events.

When Bill Downing picked up a copy of USA Today and saw a photo of the Olympic Oval and its signature wood ceiling on the cover, he realized his small Penticton company had hit the big time. Downing is president of Structurlam Products Ltd., the firm that built the elegant arched wood beams and steel connectors supporting the innovative ceiling.

"The media attention the Oval is drawing is unbelievable," says Downing.

Structurlam, Canada's leading supplier of heavy timber packages is one of the only companies in North America who can the manufacture complex glulam arches such as those used in the Oval. The company's products were also used in the construction of six other buildings at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games site.

Structurlam employees are applying and checking the torque required for clamping of a glue laminated arch.

Fresh from its Olympic success, Structurlam is now poised for its next venture, the design and development of cross-laminated wood panels for modular building assembly. The construction package, consisting of prefabricated wood walls, floors and ceilings, is popular in Europe, but little known in Canada. Downing feels it could eventually replace concrete in residential, institutional and commercial buildings.

The company, with currently 100 employees, is investigating setting up a production facility in Okanagan Valley, which could create 50 additional jobs.

"We're always pushing the envelope of wood design and wood construction," says Downing. "The cross-laminated timber product has the potential to revolutionize commercial construction in Canada."

A $50,000 contribution from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) helped Structurlam conduct market research and engineering studies.  The program works closely with small and medium-sized enterprises, helping them grow their businesses, increase their competitiveness, and enhance their impact in the marketplace.

"Had NRC-IRAP not funded that market study," he concludes, "we would never have considered developing this exciting new product."

Enquiries: Media relations


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