166: How Canvus Turns Wind Turbines into Functional Art with Brian Donahue

Most successful manufacturing processes start with some sort of roadmap, designed to outline goals and what you need to reach them. 

But how do you create a roadmap for an all-new, one-of-a-kind project? 

Brian Donahue, VP of Corporate Affairs at Canvus, says his roadmap creation consisted of commitment and creativity, not to mention a hard-working procurement team. 

Brian joins Manufacturing Happy Hour to share the incredible story of Canvus and how they repurpose disused wind turbine blades into functional art for public use, such as benches, tables and planters. He tells us how the company began, outlines their mission and provides expert tips for manufacturing leaders embarking on groundbreaking projects. 


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. When you embark on a brand-new custom project, it’s crucial to have the right partners around you 
  2. While products are the cornerstone of your business, building a brand involves community 
  3. Manufacturing leaders should have the courage of their convictions and be able to rally the troops, even when times are tough

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “You need strong leadership that’s going to drive people, not give them a crutch, but actually make them better.”
  • “The marketing team calls (Canvus) a brand, but I go lofty on them and call it a movement.”
  • “Having the right people is going to get you so much further, faster, than just trying to fill slots on a manufacturing floor.”

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

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Gray Solutions isn’t just a systems integrator. They’re a team of intellectual rebels on a mission to revolutionize smart manufacturing through innovation. They in specialize in Digital Transformation, OT Cybersecurity, Robotics + Vision, Process + Packaging, Turnkey Solutions, and more. Make sure to check out Episode 158 of Manufacturing Happy Hour for a full interview with their Founder & CEO Walker Mattox, or head to their website to connect with a Solutioneer today. 

TRACTIAN is the all-in-one industrial workspace designed to make maintenance more streamlined, reliable and profitable. TRACTIAN’s solution integrates condition monitoring IoT sensors and an asset management software to create the most complete maintenance ecosystem on the market. Hear our full interview with their Founder Igor Marinelli. 

Interested in generating leads through videos, podcasts, or other digital content? Then make sure to check out our 6 Strategies for Growing Your Manufacturing Business Using Social Media. 

What We Discuss with Brian

  • How Canvus upcycles wind turbine parts to create functional products such as park benches, tables and planters 
  • Brian explains how he created a roadmap for a never-done-before manufacturing process and provides advice for those looking to do the same 
  • Why having the right procurement team, spending time on ideation and finding a suitable facility are the most important things when planning a brand-new manufacturing process 
  • Brian shares advice on how he identified standards and best practices despite never embarking on such a project before 
  • Brian tells us the number one leadership trait he looks for in new hires and explains his interview process 
  • We ask Brian whether Ohio is a hub for his sort of work, or whether Canvus’ location is based around convenience 
  • Brian says manufacturing leaders should be willing to pay above market price for resources when they embark on a custom product 
  • Brian explains how he collaborates with local artists and shares how you can get a Canvus project installed near you  

Recommended Resources

  • Canvus, a manufacturer that uses retired wind turbine blades to build new functional art pieces 
  • Great Lakes Brewing, Ohio’s original craft brewery, serving 14 states and Washington D.C. with fresh, innovative, award-winning beers 

Connect with Brian

LinkedIn |Canvus