In 2012, CWA Engineers Inc. celebrated its fifteen year anniversary since it was founded in 1997. Over the last fifteen years, CWA has evolved from specializing in the engineering and project  management of forest industry facilities to a multi-disciplinary engineering company at the forefront of the field; as well as providing engineering, procurement, project and construction management (EPCM) to clients around the world in the mining and minerals, ports and marine terminals, infrastructure and wood products sectors.

Since its inception, CWA has provided innovative and cost effective solutions to its clients.  In its first year of operations, CWA was awarded a major contract with Harmac Pulp to engineer a new fiber handling system.  One of the unique challenges of the project involved blasting 7,000 tons of rocks in the seabed to create berthage for barge unloading, within the narrow window of time allotted by the authorities to minimize environmental impact.  Working closely with Harmac’s management team during the initial planning stage, CWA reinvented the pulp mill’s chip receiving, out-stocking, reclaim and storage facilities, providing Harmac the flexibility to balance the constantly changing fiber supply on the BC coast and meet the pulp mill’s chip consumption requirements.

CWA quickly solidified its place as an industry leader, completing projects across Canada on sawmills, OSB plants, engineered wood plants, and fiber handling facilities. Expanding its reach, CWA also diversified into steam and power systems, bio-mass co-generation facilities and alternative energy systems for leading forest industry clients, including Canfor, Tolko and Weyerhaeuser.

Despite its success, CWA’s early years coincided with the downturn of the forest industry. With the  US housing developments dropping over 70% in the last decade, a steep decline in demand for wood products created a multitude of challenges for companies and consultants in the forest industry. Instead of waiting for the industry to recover, CWA adapted and brought in key professionals to lead, diversify, and expand its core materials handling expertise into other industries, most noteworthy, ports and terminals and construction materials.

In 2006, CWA began its inroad into the marine terminal and construction materials sectors, with projects on marine load-out and materials handling systems for CEMEX (previously Rinker Cement) in the US. CWA also conducted major studies for a new coal export terminal for MPX in Colombia, a coal import facility for Windalco in Jamaica, and shiploading lead, zinc and copper concentrates for CTC in Peru. These international projects, along with projects in Canada for Teck Cominco, Lafarge, Lehigh and Kinder Morgan at Vancouver Wharves marked CWA’s successful expansion into the marine terminal and construction materials sectors.

“We share the same vision that innovation has no boundaries,” says Ray Chu, President and Founder of CWA, referring in particular to the two other Principles at CWA – Steve Yee, Vice President, and Mark Malecek, Operations Manager. “We all want to take our core expertise and offer effective solutions to our clients worldwide.” The last half a decade has seen continuous and sustained growth for CWA, with the successful completion of projects across Canada, the US, Latin America and Asia, as well as the establishment of a new subsidiary company, CYMA Consultants LLC, in Miami.

With the global demand for mining minerals in recent years, CWA has taken a lead role in many mining and minerals, and ports and terminals projects – another testimony to how CWA has been able to take its core expertise and branch out into other sectors.  The company’s project list in Canada includes the Major Potash and Coal Capacity Upgrades for Canpotex, and Teck Resources at Neptune Bulk Terminals in North Vancouver, the Highland Valley Copper Pebble Crushing Facility near Kamloops, Berth #1 Rehabilitation Project for Kinder Morgan at Vancouver Wharves in North Vancouver, and the Nickel Concentrate and Limestone Processing Facility for Vale-Inco/IEM in Long Harbour, Newfoundland. Expanding into the public sector as well,  in 2009, CWA was engaged as the Prime Consultant by Metro Vancouver for the Cleveland Dam Project.

Internationally, CWA provided engineering and procurement services to Oyu Tolgoi  for the Copper Concentrate Bagging Facility in Mongolia—the world’s largest bagging facility for cohesive bulk materials; to Americas Petrogas for the Potash Brine Solar Evaporation Project in Peru; to Trafigura for the Burnside Marine Terminal Project in Louisiana; and  recently, CWA was awarded the EPCM contract by Coalspur for the Vista Coal Project near Hinton, Alberta – one of largest undeveloped thermal coal projects in North America.

The hands-on experience that CWA’s team of professionals attained while working in both the design and construction environment sets CWA apart from other engineering and consulting companies. With a team of senior staff members who have worked as owner’s representatives, plant managers, construction managers, and fabrication and maintenance engineers, CWA knows how practical solutions can be applied to projects. Five years ago, CWA introduced its annual Innovation Awards to reward its staff for creativity, hard work and effective communication. This tradition has become part of the CWA company culture and an event all professionals look forward to every year.

­­­While looking back at its origin, CWA continues to look forward and invest in the future. “We pride ourselves in our mentorship; it’s a big part of our growth,” says Ray. “It’s important to us that our knowledge and experience be passed on from one generation to the next.  In our business, the core value is our people.”

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