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Stop us if you’ve heard this one — a paramedic, a satellite communications technician and a microbrewery owner walk into a bar . . .
“Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it?” chuckles Jeff Orr.
Yes, but here’s the punch line: Orr has been all three of these people at different points in his life. And right now, he’s best known as the president and co-owner of Tool Shed Brewing, the little Calgary brewery that could.
Launched in 2012, Tool Shed does $2 million a year in sales, produces a million litres of suds annually, and serves up beer connoisseur-approved ales like People Skills and Red Rage. Tool Shed is also the creator of Centenni-Ale, SAIT’s centennial beer.
That overnight success story, and the company’s reputation as the darling of Calgary’s craft crowd, have landed Orr and his Tool Shed co-founder Graham Sherman on the 2016 edition of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 list.
Orr is one of two SAIT alumni — and three members of the SAIT crowd altogether — named to the list, alongside Green Event Services founder Colin Smith and SAIT School of Manufacturing and Automation Associate Dean Jim Szautner.
Smith’s company, hatched in late 2013, is Calgary’s first environmentally focused event waste management business, and has already diverted more than 60 tonnes of waste from landfills. Szautner, meanwhile, has worked tirelessly to ignite a passion for the trades in a new generation, through initiatives like a School of Transportation summer camp for kids aged 9 through 17.
Smith was trained as an electrician at SAIT, but volunteered to take on the environmental practices portfolio at the 2012 Sled Island music festival. The rest, as they say, is history.
Green Event Services is steering its clients, which include X-Fest, the Stampede Roundup and Oxford Stomp, toward zero-waste targets through the use of compostable foodware and avoidance of one-time-use items like straws and disposable beer cups.
“We’ve shown that waste management doesn’t have to be an afterthought for events and festivals-actually, that it can be an area of responsibility and leadership,” says Smith.
“There’s still a very large educational component to what we do. It’s meaningful work with a positive impact.”
Written by Todd Kimberley (JA '92)