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Greg Blair, long-term employee with BC Greenhouse Builders, talks shop

Posted on November 15, 2021 | Categories: Uncategorized

Greg Blair is a bit of a mystery man.  His role at BCG has greatly evolved in the almost twenty years he’s been here but no one is entirely certain what he does exactly due to the complexity and unbelievable amount of detail required.

“What do you do here?” I ask with a chuckle.  “My title is Design and Engineering Manager.  At this time I supervise all of the design work and technical details for almost every project that leaves the building. I have a team of seven people that I work with to design each greenhouse and prepare projects for installation. The Engineering Department and Technical Support Team also work under my umbrella”

How does a greenhouse move through your department? “After an order is finalized by the sales team, we’ll receive a simple line drawing and copy of the work order that we use as a base point to design each unique customer greenhouse.   We’ll then use a drafting program (AutoCAD) to draw the greenhouse in a two-dimensional format.  From that, we create a cut list that details every bar, piece of glazing, nut, bolt and screw that will be needed to successfully install the greenhouse,” Greg says. “The cut list then goes to our production floor for manufacturing.”

Crew photo from early 2000’s (Greg back middle)

For perspective, an 8×12 glass greenhouse weighs approximately 1200 pounds and contains over 800 parts and pieces. These days we find it’s more important than ever to communicate that these structures are a proper outbuilding with bracing, supports, and more. It is meant to last a lifetime and is a not a snap together greenhouse. Every greenhouse is unique and built to the customer’s wishes.

“I am resource for the sales department too.  I am one of the main people they call on to ask the complex custom questions – will this door fit in this wall or can we jog this wall and still add a truss for example.  I work with almost every department in the company in some way.”

Kyle Exner, GM of BC Greenhouses, says “Greg is sometimes at a loss for being able to describe what he does.  It’s really easy for me to say – Greg leads the team that designs the best greenhouses in the world.  His vast knowledge of our products and materials along with his super analytical approach make him the best in our industry. And, after almost 20 years, he still has the driest sense of humour that I know.”

In the summer of 2002, Greg moved to the mainland from Victoria when his wife Kristen was offered a teaching job.  “I had been working in hotels and tried a year in real estate back in Victoria but had no prospects here,” Greg says.  “I knew Kevin (our Custom Fabrication Manager) who is Kristen’s cousin and he put a word in with the Production Manager at the time who hired me on the spot.  I’ve always said that when I started I was only going to stay until I found something better.  Going on 20 years later, I’m still here so I’m pretty sure that means there is nothing better.”

Favorite project to date? “Preston Hampton is the most recent one that comes to mind.” I remember when Greg went “dark” for that project. “I worked on that drawing at home for a week straight and then periodically over the following three months.  I didn’t do the initial design work but I had to draw it from scratch and produce a Cut List that would be “operator friendly” for the Production Team. I’ve never had a more detailed greenhouse to work on.  There was a fair bit of back and forth with Kevin as to just how we were going to make it work but it all came together in the end.”

Preston Hampton Conservatory

Preston Hampton is a custom 26×112 double glass conservatory currently being installed at a historic heritage site in Columbia, South Carolina.  This greenhouse project is a culmination of many efforts including our friends and retailers at Gothic Arch Greenhouses that sold the greenhouse, the firm Lambert Architecture who created the impressive design and the patrons of Historic Columbia who spearheaded the project.

What are some moments that stand out to you?  “There’s been so many memories and people over the years that I’ve lost track of them all. I remember my first (and only) out of town installation in Seattle, missing the Christmas party for the birth of my son,  fishing in Tofino with Russ Davis and some of the guys, and moving to our new building.  There really are too many moments to list.  I’ve lived and breathed this company for so long that it’s become an integral part of my life. Now that my oldest son is working here as well I’m sure there will be more memories to come.”

Greg (back right) with the Tough Mudder Crew

“What about the growth of the company? You now have one of the larger teams to manage in the company.  Does that feel like a natural progression to you?”

“It has been natural but I’m still not sure how it happened.  As the company continued to grow we just kept adding more things to my portfolio.  This position didn’t exist when I started so it’s not like I could have envisioned winding up here.  I’m pretty sure nobody else did either. I have a unique department and an outstanding team of people to work with.  We handle enquires from the sales team, technical & installation support, engineering & design work, direct customer service and we are often the last team members that the customer talks to before they start using their greenhouse.”  I can attest to the fact that no one here at BC Greenhouses takes that lightly.  The level of expertise and knowledge of Greg and his team is something we all rely on daily.

When Greg is not at the office, you can usually find him, his wife Kristen and their 3 boys at a hockey rink in the winter or at their cabin in the summer.  “By the end of the hockey season we’re usually done with being at the rink but by September we’re itching to get started again.  It keeps us all busy and out of trouble.”

Greg’s wife Kristen and sons Dylan, Cameron and Mason.

Not someone who likes his photo taken or even being the center of a spotlight interview, big thanks to Greg for sharing some insight into his position here at BC Greenhouses and his amazing team.  Next year will be Greg’s 20th Anniversary with the company and on behalf of everyone, thanks for all that you do!