United Engineering has been around a long time – 93 years. They started out as a small repair shop, eventually grew to serve local industry and became heavily involved with forestry. As the economy changed so did their focus as they started working on structural steel projects. United has always distinguished themselves from the competition by being leaders in technology. In 1991 they added two state of the art machines that distinguished them from other steel and machine shops locally and abroad. They were just getting warmed up for a major capital purchase 10 years later in 2001 when they acquired a CNC burning table and started stocking their own steel. Today Victoria based United Engineering excels in steel fabrication and machining.
What do they fabricate?
United does a lot of work on marine related projects (barge abutments, steel stairs, floating leads for BC Ferries) but recently they made the news for their role in helping Vancouver-based Flyzone Bodyflight become so successful. While Bodyflight is based out of Vancouver – virtually all of their manufacturing happens right here in Victoria. Their product, Flyzone, gives extreme sports enthusiasts the opportunity to experience human flight. That’s right: human flight. They do this by using a patented mobile vertical wind tunnel that gives a person the sensation of sky diving without the flight–or the parachute. The wind tunnels are 10 feet in diameter and channel winds of up to 200 kph that virtually lift a person off of the ground. The “Vancouver Sun” calls it “skydiving without the terror.” As you can imagine putting together this type of machinery and making it safe, is a complicated engineering problem.
United Engineering currently employs 30 people in full time positions. The FlyZone project by itself involves the manufacturing of a semi stationary multi-level units that are suitable for military applications, family fun and corporate team building. These units, which can be outfitted to be open air or closed chamber, cost about $1M each with 80% of the components being sourced from Canadian suppliers. All of those components have to be assembled and fortunately, the majority of assembly happens right here in Victoria. United Engineering and other local engineering firms have been signaled out for their role in making Flyzone a success.