Dowco Consultants was incorporated June 8, 1970 by three co-founders: Hugh Dobbie, Joe Ord and Jack Wilson.
Incorporated in June 1970, Dowco Consultants Ltd. was the brainchild of three ambitious detailers. Hugh Dobbie, Joe Ord and Jack Wilson combined to form a company that was dedicated to providing accurate and timely shop detail drawings to steel fabricators.
The original “office” was located in the dining room of the Dobbie’s large home on Stanley Street in Burnaby. Susan Dobbie was “Girl Friday '' for the group (secretary, bookkeeper, coffee maker, etc.)
In 1972, Joe Ord left to pursue engineering and Jack Wilson left to pursue fabrication, leaving Susan Dobbie as the other 50% shareholder.
By 1972, Joe Ord had left to pursue engineering and detailing, and Jack Wilson left to pursue fabrication. Susan Dobbie now bought into the company, and Susan and Hugh Dobie became (and remain today) fifty-fifty partners in Dowco Consultants. This is a monumental moment for Dowco as the shift in leadership reflects the decisions over the next 49 years that lead to massive growth and innovation.
In 1980 Dowco saw more expansion, and Hesco Holdings purchased a small 6800 square foot building on the Fraser Highway in Langley. As a result, Dowco set up a Langley division, and their satellite office occupied 4060 square feet of this space.
With the installation of a Hewlett Packard 100 F-Series C computer with six workstations and using Holgun’s CEADS-CADD software, Dowco entered the age of computer drafting in 1981. This daring investment in new technology represented a risky expenditure in excess of a quarter million dollars.
“In 1981, as the recession got underway, we invested in CAD (Computer Aided Drafting). The Canadian government was at the time trying to encourage companies to be involved in high tech. We managed to obtain a government-sponsored loan at half prime plus 2%. With prime at the time a whopping 22# our load was 13% - a far cry from today’s rates. (This makes it difficult for me to understand, with rates so low today and many companies allegedly sitting on surplus cash, why they don’t invest in new projects.) But I am not an economist, just an entrepreneur.
We have worked our way through five CAD software packages - Ceads Cadd, MountainTop, Somel-Punch and Champagne, Advenco’s PADs (our own development), and latterly Xsteel, which became Tekla Structures, our current detailing software.” - Hugh Dobbie, CEO
In 1982, Dowco formed a JV with CADDEV to form Advenco Consultants Ltd which was established to co-develop a software to detail more than 2500 shop drawings for the Vancouver Advanced Light Rapid Transit then called ALRT. Today, it is referred to as Skytrain.
In 1982, Dowco formed a join venture partnership with CADDEV system Consultants. The new company was called Advencco Consultants Ltd., and was established primarily to develop computer programmes to detail more than 2500 shop drawings for the Vancouver Advanced Light Rapid Transit (ALRT). This project was a resounding success, but because of the lack of similar projects, the partnership was later dissolved and Dowco transformed Advenco into its research and development division.
In 1984, Dowco began public CAD training as a licensed private trade school, registered by the Ministry of Labour for B.C.
January 1984 saw Dowco commencing public CAD training, as a licensed private trade school registered by the Ministry of Labour for B.C. This paved the way for other detailers to learn new technology, which advanced the industry as a whole. Dowco was not worried about competition, rather they wanted to contribute to mankind's evolution of building complex structures.
In 1985, Dowco courses were recognized by the Applied Science Technicians & Technologies (A.S.T.T.) of B.C. for credit towards ASTT Certification.
In March 1985, Dowco was approved by the Canada Employment & Immigration centres who sponsor upgrading for engineers and draftsmen in CAD. Dowco was one of only two CAD training Centres approved by the C.E.I.C.
In 1987, Dowco Computer Systems was formed, with a focus on selling hardware, software, networking, CAD drafting and other computer related consulting services.
January 1987 saw the formation of Dowco Computer System Division. This Division under the direction of President Hugh Dobbie Jr., handles hardware and software sales, networking, CAD drafting services and other computer related consulting services.
In 1988, CAD was introduced into the Langley office with the installation of an HP1000 F-Series computer.
February 1988, capabilities expanded with a new HP 1000 A-Series computer with more memory and faster processor.
In February 1988, CAD was introduced into Langley’s office with the installation of an HP1000 F-Series computer with 7 workstations and a plotter.
December 1988 saw Dowco purchase, at auction, used computer equipment from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. The acquisition, comprising 3-HP1000 A-Series computers, 3 colour and 24 monochrome graphic terminals and a variety of storage devices and other peripherals, propelled Dowco into the position of being the largest structural steel detailing company using CAD in North America.
In 1989, Dowco implemented Accugraph’s Mountain Top drafting software into Dowco’s production of shop detail drawings.
Hesco Holdings Ltd. sold the Coquitlam and Langley office buildings in 1989, but Dowco retained 3-year rental leases on both properties. In September 1989, Hugh Dobbie Jr. worked his way through the preliminary rounds of Accugraph Corporation’s annual Fast Draw contest, and eventually won their shootout in El Paso to be declared the “Fastest Daw in the World”. After beating competitors from all over the world, he returned to Dowco with the prize of $25,0000 (U.S.) in software licenses, which enabled Dowco to purchase Accugraph’s new Mountain Top software. In December 1989 Dowco implemented Mountain Top in a training environment, with attention geared towards integrating this powerful tool into Dowco’s production of shop detail drawings.
In 1991, Dowco became a reseller of the Accugraph software. This year, Dowco Computer Systems became a value added HP reseller.
By February 1991, Dowco became part of Accuraph’s Authorized Service Agent Program (ASAP). One of only three centres in North America, Dowco’s alliance with Accuraph would assist in providing expanded training and implementation of services for users of Accugraph’s CAD & Information Management Systems.
August 1991 was the time to consolidate Dowco’s Coquitlam and Langley offices into one location. This move was advisable to consolidate the computer environment, and to reduce overheads. Hesco Holdings Ltd. purchased the 30,000 square foot building in Coquitlam in which Dowco now occupies approximately 9,000 square feet.
In 1991 Dowco Computer Systems concluded negotiations and became a Value Added Business Partner with Hewlett packard, and is now authorized to assist the marketing and distribution of HP Series 700 line of workstations. Dowco also became an authorized Ingram Micro dealer, a national distributor for HP products.
In 1992 Dowco became 100% automated, by removing all manual drafting boards and in response to the demand, Dowco Computer Systems formed Educan, which is an authorized distributor for Commodore PC’s and Amigas, Hewlett Packard and Advenco Computers.
August 1992 was Dowco’s “great leap forward”, when the office became totally computerized with all shop drawings and erection diagrams completed 100% by CAD. Dowco is currently using ADC 400, PADs and Mountain Top softwares, all linked together on hP 1000 mini computers, HP 300, 400 and 700 HP-UX systems, an IBM RS / 6000 AIX server and numerous X-terminals and PCs running on a network.
In 1992, in response to overwhelming demand for low end solutions, Dowco Computer Systems established a retail division called Educan Computers. Educan is an authorized distributor for Commodore pCs and Amigas, Hewlett Packard and Advenco Computers.
In 1993, DOWCO Computer Systems/Educan Computers install a support Bulletin Board System (BBS).
1993 was the year that Acugraph’s Mountain Top was fully implemented into Dowco’s production environment, and ADC 400 software was no longer used. When Mountain Top was first implemented at Dowco in December 1989, the target was to phase out ADC 400 by 1995. Due to the unique characteristics and productivity gained from Mountain Top, ADC 400 was phased out two years ahead of schedule, and Mountain Top became the software of choice.
In 1993, Dowco Computer Systems / Educan Computers Support Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) was installed. The graphically oriented BBS was a vast improvement over the traditional ANSI-brased boards, and allows for full mouse support. Dowco can now transmit drawings through its BBS with viewing @ 1023x768 and 256 colours.
In 1994, Dowco Design Inc. was formed to provide complete architectural design packages, including intelligent facilities management.
May of 1994 saw the formation of Dowco Design Inc. to provide complete architectural design packages inducing intelligent computerized Facilities Management. Dowco Design Inc. under the direction of President Ewen Dobbie, utilizes the most advanced computer aided design and drafting system to facilitate production and transmission of design information. Extensive use of computer generated 3-dimensional models in the process ensures the achievement of the most effective design solutions.
Making the jump from the world of 2D CAD to 3D modelling detailing in 1995 was a major turning point for Dowco when we became North America’s first user and reseller of Tekla software. Using the Tekla 3D software everyday and on every job, we were able to demonstrate to others the power of 3D modelling and detailing. Dowco Computer Systems has also become an Internet Service Provider (ISP) in B.C in which others followed shortly after.
In 1995, Dowco Computer Systems became an Internet provider and installed the latest in sophisticated hardware and software, along with several TI lines. 1995 Dowco Consultants Ltd. President Hugh Dobbie Sr. continued to evaluate steel detailing software from all over the world in an effort to maintain the company’s position as the leader in automated detailing technology. After visiting the United Kingdom in July to investigate new detailing packages, Dowco has now become North American distributor for X-Steel, a leading 3-D modelling package for steel detailing marketed by C.S.C. Ltd of Great Britain. Dowco will be using its research and development expertise to customize this new package for the North American market.
Dowco’s commitment to excellence over the past twenty five years, as well as its vision and realization of the creative possibilities of computer technology, has enabled the company to move ahead and to position itself for unprecedented growth. With access to the most up-to-date computer technology, coupled with a motivated, highly trained technical staff, the Dowco group of companies renews their pledge to be the best.
In 1998, Dowco successfully registered to ISO-9001-1994. We were the first detailing company to do so in the history of steel detailing.
In 2000, with Burnaby office functioning at capacity, Dowco opened a third detailing office in Maple Ridge B.C. and from this Dowco Construction Inc. was born. Structures were built using HSS steel tube panels.
In 2001, Dowco Educational Services, formerly known as Dowco Computer Systems,has achieved a successful launch of the AISC and Dowco branded Online Steel Detailing Training Program.
Dowco Computer Systems Ltd is now Dowco Educational Services Ltd. Over the last couple of years Dowco Computer Systems Ltd. unofficially moved into this arena of online education with the creation of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) approved course Detailing for Steel Construction. Most recently we’ve been working with Dowco Technology Services creating and launching the Tekla Basic training course. Today our focus is almost entirely on creating training material to service the Steel Detailing industry.
Known as the Dowco Online Learning Network, Dowco Educational Services Ltd. will be presenting a series of courses for online detailer training.
As an initiative of the AISC committee on Steel Detailing, the course, Detailing for Steel Construction, was created to address the shortage of structural steel detailing technicians and technologists in the industry. This comprehensive course, developed by Dowco Educational Services and fully endorsed by the AISC, is an invaluable tool for detailing firms, fabricators, and any other firms that employ people to prepare and review structural shop drawings.
In 2004, Dowco acquired Total Structural Detailing, Toronto, Ontario. This resulted in a merger with Dowco’s Mississauga office.
In 2005, DowcoMAX, our Kolkata based IT enabled steel detailing services company, expanded to also include a 6 person team of .NET programmers working on proprietary productivity enhancement tools for Dowco.
Tekla Oy, in Finland also awarded DowcoMax a sales territory in India for Tekla Structures software and related training and services. A new team was established and business development was well underway. DowcoMAX was also established as the FabTrol reseller for India, enabling DowcoMax to be one of the first companies in the world to offer integrated steel solutions technologies to that market.
“DowcoMax was incorporated over 3 years ago with an initial work force of 25. During the first year, DowcoMax’s main job was to edit the drawings produced by Tekla Structures… a mundane job to say the least, especially in a 3D environment, but it is a necessary step to become more proficient with modeling and connecting jobs. DowcoMax now boasts an office of close to 60. The majority of the crew is currently comprised mostly of connectors followed by modelers and drawing editors. This is a complete reversal from where they started.
Over the past 6 months we have seen 2 of our Canadian employees spend time with DowcoMax in Kolkata. Boris Pohoriljakova from our Toronto office spent several weeks working with DMI, passing along his experience as a connector by upgrading the skills of his counterparts in DowcoMax. A few months later, Clayton Andrews from our Burnaby office, spent time working with DowcoMax and passing along his connecting experience and knowledge as well. Both Boris & Clayton came home with valuable knowledge of DowcoMax. Both were amazed and impressed by the talent and experience of the crew in DowcoMax. 'The team here is very friendly and kind but more importantly efficient and professional.'
DowcoMax has become an important factor in the operations of Dowco. It has the talent and experience to carry us through the economic slowdown we are all expecting. It is a company that takes pride in its work and in their workers, a company that helps and is an asset for Dowco Consultants.” - Ken Mussato, VP Operations
Dowco Max. As many of you timeDescLeft, Hugh Sr., Dowco’s founder and President has been active in promoting the. Profession of steel detailing for more than four decades. Currently, we work closely with the Workers’ Compensation Board in re-training programs. We have also worked with Employment Immigration Canada and hired people new to our country. We work closely with local colleges, universities and even high schools by providing Tekla Structures software, in class demonstrations and office tours. We have even merged with another detailing company to boost our staffing. Despite all these efforts, we still are unable to meet global market demands for steel detailing services.
In 2006, Dowco opened a new head office in Surrey, B.C. This became our office in B.C. and fifth office world wide.
“The past five months have been busy and challenging with the opening of the new Surrey / Langley office and the amalgamation of personnel from the Whonnock and Burnaby offices.
In the midst of the reorganization, Schuff Steel awarded Dowco the Tulsa Event Center Arena project. This undertaking, described as “The project of the century” by the Vision Builders 2025 group. Presented us with a number of unique detailing challenges, all adding to the excitement of being involved with a project designed by the world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli.
During initial discussions and early meetings, it became obvious that the focus of the area would be the Icon Wall. Subsequent modeling and detailing has indicated this to be true, and the Icon Wall is emerging as a complex and unique aspect of the arena project. The Dowco team has risen to the challenges and is doing an outstanding job with every member focused and contributing to the successful completion of the project in the spring of 2007.
In early December, Owens Steel Company awarded us The John Jay College of Criminal Justice project located in New York City. We look forward to working again with the Owens team on another fascinating and challenging venture. This project is a16-storey building with floors hanging off large roof trusses and cantilevering over the core of the building. All floors require camber and will be erected in the camber position supported by temporary jack columns that will be lowered and removed once all the floors of steel have been erected. We have started the modeling and are being assisted by our DowcoMax team to help with the completion.” - Ian Branen, Office Manager, Surrey / Langley
In 2007, Dowco separated detailing and software reselling business, by establishing Dowco Technology Services Ltd.
“We have now been selling Tekla Structures software for 11 years in Canada. I am Proud to say that most of North America’s earliest adapters, and many of Tekla’s most sophisticated and experienced users are located in Canada. The Canadian Steel industry was quick to realize the creative capabilities of 3D Modeling and detailing technologies. Companies on the west and east coast alike all cautiously entered into this new golden age of 3D.
For years we have had both a west and east coast office to handle the needs of our customers across the country. We have staffed our Ontario office with some French speaking personnel with the hope that we could offer some support and training services to those requesting or requiring communication “En Francais''. Although this has worked to some degree, I’m not sure we have truly met all the needs of our Quebec customers. We are extremely grateful and appreciative of those Quebec customers who were the early adopters and pioneers with us. We also thank those that have struggled with us over the years who experienced difficulties communicating with us (though I hope there weren’t too many of you).
I am very pleased to announce that effective January 2007 Dowco Consultants Ltd / Dowco Technology Services Ltd will open an office in Montreal. We expect that by the end of the first quarter to be ready to serve all Quebec customers from this new office.” - Ewen Dobbie, Executive VP.
In 2008, Dowco acquired FabTrol Systems Inc. (Eugene, Oregon), a software development company. Our acquisition of FabTrol added another dimension to the services we offered to our clients. At this point, Dowco was able to model, design and add the connections, produce detail drawings, prepare mill order lists, field bolts, and with FabTrol, provide the other management tools the fabricator needed to run their shop efficiently.
“Looking back over the last year, many changes have been made at FabTrol Systems that have set the stage for growth in the years to come. We have implemented strategies to further satisfy current and future market requirements and to increase the global market presence of our software.
2008 marked several milestones in the history of FabTrol Systems:
Became a proud member of the Dowco Group of Companies
Produced a successful customer event - “Get Connected 2008”
Increased product design and development staffing by 25% including the hiring of Fred Magnotta as Director of Development and Lloyd Madden as Quality Control Manager
Welcomed 62 new customers to be the FabTrol family in addition to existing customer purchasing 102 new modules
Hit record sales in May of 2008 surpassing previous record by 27%
Maintained Annual Support and Maintenance (ASM) retention rate of 99%
Added an Automated Data Capture (ADC) integration partner
Set the groundwork for a new reseller partner in the Middle East with BIM Engineering Solutions
Conducted dozens of interviews with fabricators, including 12 onsite visits, to gather market requirements
Addressed the three top product enhancements requested by customers at the 2008 customer event
Updated the software development process to enhance quality assurance, shorten development schedules, and decrease the time to market for new product offerings
Developed substantial new functionality and product enhancements in the upcoming Version 3.0 General Release of FabTrol MRP to be released at NASCC 2009
We approach the coming year with much excitement as we anticipate another great NASCC show and Get Connected customer event, continued expansion into new global markets, and the release of FabTrol MRP Version 3.0 to name a few.
Our gratitude is extended to all of the staff, partners, and customers who have helped to make this a fantastic year. We look forward to the exploration of additional synergies between Dowco and FabTrol. We wish everyone and their families a happy holiday season and much success in the New Year.” - Rob Forester, National Sales Manager
In 2009 Dowco established the FabTrol Global Reseller Network with resellers selling FabTrol in the UK, South Africa, Middle East and China.
"We proudly added FabTrol Systems Inc to the Dowco Group of Companies a few months ago and within a few short months have identified several global resellers. BIM Engineering Solutions having two offices in Egypt, and one in Dubai were welcomed as FabTrol’s first reseller under the newly established global reseller model. Existing partners, CSC in the UK, had a very successful year selling into the UK, South Africa, and under special agreement, China. 2009 was a year of additional expansion for FabTrol as staffing levels for the Company increased by 25% in the development team, which reaffirmed the Company’s commitment to ongoing development."
In 2012, leadership was transferred to Ewen Dobbie, as he acquired Dowco Group of Companies.
“On June 8, 1970, I incorporated Dowco Consultants Ltd. with two partners. In 1973, Susan bought out the partners’ shares and since then we two have run the company … myself on the front lines, Susan behind the scenes. Our business has very much one of family involvement. On June 15, 2012, we sold our shares to our son Ewen Dobbie, who now acquires full ownership of Dowco Consultants Ltd., Dowco Technology Services Ltd. and FabTrol. As well as running Dowco Technology Services and FabTrol, Ewen has spent much of his time recently being directly involved with Consultants and is eager to transition into full management of the companies. The economic climate will remain a challenge for some time to come, but it is time for young, stronger hands to take the helm.“ - Hugh Dobbie
“Well, I am humbled to be at the helm of ‘Next Generation Dowco’. I’ve been working in and around the family business for most of my life. While my parents vowed their kids would never build careers at the company, somehow all three of us (sister Sarah, and brother, Hugh jr) ended up spending at least some time working in the family business. For myself, I found my rhythm and passion selling and promoting both the Company and the technology we use.
I am also proud that my father’s life’s work has the potential to become my life’s work. The changes in the steel detailing, fabrication, and construction industry over the past 42 years have been dramatic … to say the least: 2D CAD, 3D Modeling and Detailing, the Internet, E-mail, increasing program (& 3D model) interoperability, project collaboration protocols, social media, iPhones, and Tablet PC’s are just a few examples of how technology is shaping our world and the way we work.
Our particular technological journey of discovery began in 1981, when we first entered into the world of CAD. Thirty one years have since passed and we find ourselves again at the cusp of what may be an exciting breakthrough. Yes, technology has advanced, but so too has the attitude in which project teams collaborate. With increasing software interoperability has come an emerging willingness to cooperate. Collaborate and work towards a common project goal.“ - Ewen Dobbie, President, CEO
In 2013, Dowco acquired yet another company, SDE Steel Detailing & Consulting Services in the Philippines.
Looking to expand its Filipino production operations, Dowco adds a second Manila office in 2014.
In 2015, Dowco acquired Risa Technologies Private Limited, Kolkata, India to further grow its global detailing operations. This company is now called Dowco Consultants India Private Ltd. Also in 2015 The Dowco Group sold FabTrol Systems Inc to AVEVA (a public company, UK).
In 2016, Dowco acquired Acuna y Asociados S.A. adding 60 engineers / detailers. Today this Chilean office is now called Dowco Consultants Chile SpA.
In 2017, Dowco merged its two B.C. offices into a new 17,000 square feet Langley head office.
In 2018, Dowco Chile expanded its service offering to now include 3D rebar modelling and detailing.
In 2019, Dowco Canada expanded its service offering to now include 3D mass timber modelling and detailing.
Ewen Dobbie and Dowco Group of Companies partnered with David Norman to launch Dowco Financial Ltd.
Dowco Financial Ltd., is a start-up insurance brokerage business providing Group Benefits, & Individual Insurance Risk Products such as life insurance, disability insurance, critical illness, and long-term care insurance to companies working within the Dowco Group Network, and to businesses, partnerships and individuals residing in British Columbia.
In 2021, Dowco entered into a services contract with a Mumbai company to form a Dowco Mumbai production team (25 staff).