The old Reliance Foundry location on
West 4th Avenue, circa 1940.
In 1924, Fred Done stepped into the foundry business. Almost 9 decades later, his family is still in the industry and Reliance Foundry has a long and impressive track record of survival and perseverance through tough economic times.
Reliance Foundry’s early beginning makes it one of the oldest casting suppliers in British Columbia. Reliance has seen many changes over the years; recessions, the Second World War and international trade shifts. Material access and new technology have, at different times, contributed to the evolution of Reliance Foundry and how it conducts business. One thing that has remained a constant is the commitment of the Done family to do whatever it takes to best serve the needs of their customers.
Through the Great Depression, Reliance fared better than most foundries. A contract to cast the iron links for the original Second Narrows Bridge in 1934 helped substantially. Throughout WWII, Reliance employees worked overtime, contributing castings for the Canadian-built Victory Ships.
A production scene from the old
Reliance Foundry plant in Surrey, B.C.
Reliance began casting steel in the 30s and by the mid-1950s about 80% of their business came from serving cast metal needs of mining operations. Reliance was the first foundry to cast manganese steel in Vancouver in 1950. In 1966 a fire destroyed the original Reliance Foundry building, but true to their nature the Done family pulled together and built a new facility in Surrey, B.C..
Throughout the years and into the 1990s it has been companies in the marine, mining, truck manufacturing and forestry industry that remained Reliance Foundry’s main customers. Foundry operations continued uninterrupted until 2004 when the foundry was closed in preference to outsourced cast metal production.
Today, the majority of Reliance Foundry’s production has been moved to Asia, allowing the North American sales team, based in Surrey, B.C., to focus on working with OEM’s, engineers, architects, designers, traffic planners, city planners and property owners to present the highest quality products at competitive prices.
Site furnishing products (bollards and bike parking racks) were recently added to Reliance Foundry’s product offerings, and the demand for these cast and fabricated items remains high.
Ordering processes and communications have evolved tremendously in recent years, allowing Reliance to exploit technology to meet the needs of clients all across North America. Although Fred Done passed away in 1979, the company is still owned and run by the Done family. They continue to build on their years of success and look forward to bringing innovative new cast metal products and the knowledge of foundry professionals to an ever increasing customer base.
A look through Reliance Foundry's years located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
1925 - Reliance Foundry is established in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
1925 - When the company first opened it relied on Municipal work to survive, making such things as lamp standards, some of which are still intact in Gastown, Vancouver.
Reliance Foundry produced many architectural iron lamp standards at its old Vancouver foundry, many of which are still seen throughout the Vancouver area.
1927 - Fred Done signed on to build a half ton furnace for Reliance Foundry.
1934 - Contracted to provide cast iron chain links for the original Second Narrows Bridge
1935 - Reliance Foundry begins to cast steel (originally casting cast iron)
1936 - Fred Done buys out two of the owner's interest, two man partnership with Mike Englebean starts
1939 - Casting 10 tons per day and working 48 hours a week, Reliance Foundry cast parts for gun emplacements and provides plates for bows and sterns of the Canadian-built Liberty Ships.
1943 - Fred Done buys out Mike Engelbean to become sole owner of Reliance Foundry
1950 - First foundry to cast Manganese Steel in Vancouver
1950 - Over 80% of foundry production devoted to Mining industry
1955 - Brian and Barry Done, Fred's sons begin to work at the company
1963 - Brian and Barry officially take over the foundry
1966 - Original 1927 Reliance Foundry site in Vancouver, B.C. burns down in a fire; foundry is relocated to a new facility located in Surrey, B.C.
1997 - Initial outsourcing of casting production begins.
2003 - Final castings production takes place. Castings production in the Surrey foundry is permanently halted, and all production is moved to facilities in Asia.
2005 - Reliance Foundry moves to new warehouse and distribution facilities in Surrey, B.C.