When Mike Battistel was a kid, he built a fort in his backyard. After a few days, his dad took it down for practical reasons. The next month, Mike built another, different fort. A little while later, his dad dismantled that one, too. This cycle repeated itself more times than Mike (now a father himself and an alumnus of BCIT’s Carpentry and Architectural Building Technology programs) can remember.
“At least I got to practice my building skills over and over again,” laughs Mike. But there was nothing mundane about his early fort-building experience. Through it, he learned that construction offers opportunities to try new, better ways of doing things—a lesson that has proven to be the foundation for his professional success.
Now President and Founder of Cascadia Windows & Doors, Mike’s indomitable passion for construction and innovation have made him and his company a leader in the construction and manufacturing industries. Most recently, he was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2018 Clean50 Awards, which recognizes Canada’s leaders in innovation and sustainability. In 2017, Window & Door Magazine presented Cascadia with a Crystal Achievement Award for the Passive House-caliber Universal Series windows that the company developed.
When he and his business partners launched Cascadia in 2008, they planned to hit the ground running by introducing architects and builders to high energy-efficient window and door products made of fiberglass. While fiberglass products were already being successfully used in other parts of the world, builders on the West Coast weren’t familiar with them yet. Mike and his partners were ready to educate them, but six months later, the recession hit. The construction industry slowed down significantly, and builders weren’t clamouring to buy fiberglass products they’d never used before.
“We wondered, ‘what do we do now?'” recalls Mike. “We took on highly customized jobs and projects that other manufacturers weren’t comfortable doing. We also started looking for opportunities to innovate. That’s when we invented the Cascadia Clip. That was a game-changer for us and the industry.”
The Cascadia Clip, which is made of fiberglass, attaches building cladding through exterior insulated wall assemblies. It quickly gained popularity due to its low thermal conductivity (making it easier to meet code requirements), environmental friendliness and universality of use. It’s now distributed throughout North America and in Europe.
Since then, the Cascadia team has grown significantly and developed many new products. The new Universal Series Passive House-caliber windows and doors are its most recently launched products, and its fiberglass window-wall product is in the final design stages.
“As a student at BCIT, I learned that if you want success as a major innovator, you need a team of people to get you there,” says Mike, who is also a part-time building engineering technology instructor at his alma mater. “A BCIT education is an excellent start. Then put a team of great people together, get to work and you can go far.”