Master craftsman blends innovation with tradition


RCABC ASM facility has trusted ally

Canadian company sources European hand tools and machinery

by Paddy Tennant

The grand opening of RCABC’s Architectural Sheet Metal Training Centre was a memorable event – complete with a catered lunch, photographers, speeches by local VIPs; and attended by the who’s- who of Canada’s roofing industry.

But, as with most such occasions, there were important people behind the scenes who didn’t “make the headlines.” ASM instructor Connor Hofler, who developed the RCABC version of the program, did not get up to the podium. Instead he spoke privately but enthusiastically about the people who supplied the top- quality shop equipment.

Conner related his experience: “When doing research for the tools that the new ASM program requires, it became apparent that many of them would have to be imported from European sources. In particular, the WUKO bending tools, which are manufactured in Austria, were at the top of the list of tools to acquire; however, there were few distributers in North America that these tools could be purchased through, and only one name appeared as an authorized retailer in Canada – Steetz Copper Craft Ltd. After looking through the immense selection of tools and machinery that this company could provide, from Stubai hand tools to Schroder brakes, it was clear that Steetz would be essential in acquiring all of the equipment necessary to make this training facility one of the best in North America.”

RCABC EVP Brian Hofler contacted Peter and Dagmar Steetz, the owners of Steetz Copper Craft, who were enthusiastic to help in any way they could and eager to meet the people who spoke of a “new” Architectural Sheet Metal program that would train apprentices in modern technologies, while honouring traditional techniques.

Peter Steetz arranged to visit the RCABC Training Facility, driving with his family from Alberta on his own accord, and demonstrated tools and seaming techniques for the ASM Level 2 apprentices. Steetz “captured their attention with his skill and charisma”, says Connor, and after a meeting with Brian it was agreed that Steetz Copper Craft would act as RCABC’s broker in all of its tool and machinery transactions.

The Steetz’s normally offer a discount for schools, but they even surpassed Connor’s expectations. Working diligently and explaining RCABC’s cause to various companies across Europe, Peter and Dagmar managed to get educational discounts on all of the tools and equipment RCABC purchased through them – a testament to their good nature and work ethic.

Furthermore, says Connor,

“the Steetz’s even came out and helped set up all of the machinery they helped RCABC acquire without being asked to.” Their willingness to go that extra mile has forged a solid relationship between Steetz Copper Craft and the RCABC.

Today, the fully-equipped ASM shop boasts a range of hand tools and machinery that Connor says “most journeypersons in the ASM trade have never seen, let alone used for their intended purposes.”

These include several Schroder- Fasti machines, each with different uses; two hand operated folding machines (model 102), commonly called ‘slip-joint rollers’, which are used for making curved or cylindrical objects; and four box- and-pan brakes, also referred to as ‘finger brakes’. These have removable fingers which allow for small, detailed folds to be made, Connor explains.

“There are also two rotary machines for flanging and swaging. These make small creases and folds for joints and seams.

“We also have one 3-metre brake, used for general forming operations; and one 3-metre shear for cutting sheets of material lengthwise.” he says.

The new ASM facility will provide invaluable training for BC’s ASM apprentices, and raise the bar for ASM standards in Canada.

Connor is grateful for the Steetz’s involvement. “It has been a pleasure getting to know Peter and Dagmar”, he says. “They are dedicated, honest, and more than helpful. Hopefully this relationship will continue well into the future and, if we are lucky, Peter will be able to come and teach traditional copper working techniques to the ASM apprentices in the future.”