Ross Video’s quest for sustainability has unexpected benefits close to home

The newly expanded Ross Video factory doubles the company’s manufacturing facility.

Ross Video’s drive toward sustainability with its new facility in Iroquois has already had an unexpected benefit: a home for an employee in need.

Five years ago, Ross Video purchased a bungalow that sat on land adjacent to its new facility. The idea was that the bungalow would eventually be demolished, creating more room for parking if needed, says Jeff Poapst, chief manufacturing and services officer with Ross Video.

However, when a fire in nearby Morrisburg left a family homeless, Ross Video offered to rent the house to them. When they moved out earlier this year and with the factory expansion nearing completion, it became clear that the space would be needed for parking and the house would have to be demolished.

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Enter Megan Casselman, a Ross Video employee who had been searching for a home to purchase for three years but was not able to find anything she could afford.

“Ross Video is very open and sharing with their plans and goals for the business and they had shared that they would be demolishing the current house,” says Casselman, who works in computer system assembly.

“I was at Sunday dinner with my family and my father and I had been joking around about moving the Ross house and I thought, you know what, I am going ask Jeff Poapst and, to my surprise, he not only responded with excitement but with full support from himself and the company,” Casselman says.

All she has to do is move the house off Ross property and onto a nearby plot of land that she owns.

“We’ve gifted that house to Megan and that ensures it doesn’t go to the landfill,” says Poapst. “She gets her first house, we keep it out of the landfill and we save about $20,000 in demolition fees.”

The story is just one aspect of the approach that the video technology company is taking toward its new facility and overall operations.

“In 2018, we started designing the factory expansion that we’ve just finished. I didn’t want to close any doors that would prevent us getting to net-zero carbon. To get a better handle on what we were doing at the time with the current building and what we should be doing on the design side, we brought in a firm from Kingston called Red Squirrel Conservation Services,” says Poapst.

Red Squirrel, a non-profit environmental organization, provides energy and water conservation services and programs in Eastern Ontario. It did an energy audit to measure power use and heat loss on the old 65,000-square-foot Ross Video factory and provided recommendations based on the understanding that the objective was to get to net-zero emissions with the expansion.

The result is that the new 120,000-square-foot facility emits 130 tonnes of carbon per year, up slightly from 113 tonnes at the old facility.

“What we have to do is replace the rest of the gas-fired rooftop units from the old building, then we should be close enough to net-zero that I think if we buy gold standard offsets … for about $10,000 a year, we can be net-zero in this factory,” says Poapst.

The Iroquois factory performs all of Ross Video’s manufacturing, including final assembly and testing for products that are shipped around the world. The factory employs 330 of the company’s 1,500 employees globally.    

Ross Video is also developing products that reduce energy consumption.

Kayla Murphy, process engineering support specialist, with Ross Video holding Ultrix. Photo provided

“What we’re doing is amalgamating multiple products into one, so that our customers are reducing the power consumption that’s required to operate our equipment,” says Cathy McCallion, stakeholder and community relations director at Ross Video.

For example, the Ultrix FR12 router uses a fraction of the power, space and cabling of its predecessors. It uses 14 rack units compared to 549 on previous iterations, reduces power consumption from 52,300 watts to 2,400 watts, requires 576 cables versus 11,294 cables, and is 6,156 lbs lighter. 

The push to go green at Ross Video started in 2006 with one employee concerned about the environment. 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.

It was the beginning of the company’s current philosophy of diversity and sustainability. 

“We have diversity in our client segment, diversity in our products, in the technology we use internally, and diversity geographically in 100 different countries and the diversity of our staff that can provide different perspectives and ideas. And if we didn’t have that, I don’t think we could do what we do,” says McCallion.

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