Creating Living Spaces for Generations to Come
Viessmann Canada is a manufacturer of residential and commercial hydronic heating equipment, and the Canadian arm of German-based Viessmann Group. The company offers a broad range of heating solutions for customers of all types ranging from small individual sized boilers for apartments and small homes all the way up to multi-unit properties, commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, and other large-scale facilities.
The Canadian arm of the company was founded in Waterloo, Ontario in 1978 by Viessmann Group owner Prof. Dr. Martin Viessmann and was the first Viessmann branch office outside of Western Europe. As the third generation of his family to lead the company, Viessmann placed great value on long-term considerations, always thinking far into the future. These values are threaded into every aspect of the company’s operations globally from its German headquarters to its branch offices located around the world. This view has resulted in a focus on high quality manufacturing for long term reliability, lasting support for once the product is in the field, and efficient, sustainable designs that aim to minimize the impact on the environment.
Today, after over 100 years in operation, the company’s leadership has moved to the fourth generation of the Viessmann family in the person of Prof. Dr. Viessmann’s son Maximilian as company Co-CEO. Over the past century, Viessmann has very much become a globally focused company with branch offices in 74 countries, employing over 12,000 people, including roughly sixty people across two facilities in Waterloo, ON and Langley, BC.
Viessmann has always been a company committed to creativity and innovation and as a result, its product catalogue is always evolving. Viessmann Canada’s product offering consists primarily of high-efficiency gas-fired hydronic heating boilers, a range of indirect-fired domestic hot water (DHW) tanks, as well as residential and commercial wood-fired biomass boilers. Beyond these, Viessmann also offers a series of solar thermal systems, designed to work in conjunction with a heating boiler. This results in a more efficient heating system that expends less energy and costs less to operate. The company also offers a series of wood heating systems, machines that boast a number of sustainability and cost benefits over other options.
Viessmann is centrally focused on providing customers with solutions that will stand the test of time. “What sets us apart from a lot of our competitors,” says Arne Michalski, Digital Marketing Projects Manager with Viessmann Canada, “is that we have a very comprehensive range of heating equipment across the board. This allows us to provide our customers with a heating solution for virtually any application.”
Viessmann has been operating in Canada for nearly forty successful years. In that time, the company has developed a reputation for quality manufacturing, a close partnership with the community of contracting installers, and a network of key wholesalers throughout the Canadian market. This distribution network consists of in-house sales representatives that work directly for Viessmann and agency representatives with whom the company has exclusive agreements in place so that its products are the only boiler equipment they offer. As a result, Viessmann has become a top-market share company for hydronic heating equipment in Canada, and the company’s reputation for dependable products continues to bring in new business.
Key to the company’s vision is a commitment to innovating for quality, reliability, efficiency, and sustainability in its product line. “Those are the qualities that our customers associate with our products,” says Michalski. “We have established a reputation for offering our customers innovative, state-of-the-art heating solutions and top-quality service.” Viessmann has been able to maintain this reputation by holding to a set of core company principles: Together, Responsible, Innovative. Viessmann believes in the value of partnership, and ‘together’ means working with customers toward mutual growth and success. ‘Responsible’ means maintaining its commitment to preserving the planet, and to maintaining business relationships by standing behind its products. Finally, ‘Innovative’ means being a technological leader in the field. Viessmann has anchored itself to these principles and has structured itself around them, resulting in many successes.
For Viessmann, standing behind its products through service and support is an important differentiator. The company has a technical support line staffed by five full-time employees who help customers by answering technical questions and solving problems.
One way the company is working to ensure the longevity of its products is by offering a full range of training and educational seminars for installers who work with its products to ensure that installations are done properly. To provide a hands-on aspect of these educational seminars, Viessmann has a fully operational showroom for live-fire product demonstrations. This is a demonstration of the company’s commitment to the industry and to its customers. Viessmann aims to be a pacesetter by engaging the community of contractors operating in the heating sector and pushing the industry toward continual improvement.
Viessmann Canada’s Waterloo facility also features a full state-of-the-art testing facility that verifies products meet Canadian standards and requirements. Viessmann Canada is more than a sales company; it is committed to providing its customers with end-to-end support.
Viessmann is committed to leading the industry with new ideas and innovative products. In 2015 it won a German Design Award for its fully automatic residential wood pellet heating system called the Vitoligno 300-C. Given by the German Design Council, this award’s winners are selected out of thousands of entries by a team of thirty expert judges. The design makes use of an innovative combustion technology that vastly reduces emissions, and it operates with up to 85 percent efficiency in converting wood pellets into heat. These qualities have enabled it to meet the strict standards of the European Clean Air Act, and it exceeds all Canadian requirements as well.
Thermprotect is another example of the creative thinking and inventive spirit present within the Viessmann team. In 2016 the company began applying this patented coating to the collector panels for its solar heating systems. Thermprotect is a material that changes its molecular structure when it reaches temperatures above 167 degrees Fahrenheit. In its default state it absorbs solar energy as a solar panel normally does, but at higher temperatures it reflects back some of the energy. This enables the collectors to regulate their own temperature, prevent overheating, and reduce the possibility of steam forming in the circuit and damaging the system. “It preserves the life of the equipment,” explains Michalski. “We’re the first company to develop and introduce this technology and we were recognized in Germany for this world first.” These are just a few examples demonstrating the culture of creativity at Viessmann, and its dedication to pushing the leading edge of heating technology forward.
Traditionally, Viessmann has been recognized not just for its leadership in technology but also for its commitment to environmental sustainability and for being good stewards of finite heating resources. Anchored into the company’s mission statement is a promise to create living spaces for generations to come. In fact, this has been a central focus for Viessmann since its inception and will continue to be going forward. “Let’s face it, in Canada we use primarily natural gas for heating,” says Michalski, “so the company has always put a focus on making our equipment as energy-efficient as possible, with a view to preserving our planet.” Focusing on sustainable heating technologies and developing with efficiency in mind are core to the Viessmann approach.
Viessmann is also a company that values the entrepreneurial spirit within its team members. Rather than depending solely on the standard hierarchical chain of command, Viessmann employees are empowered to make decisions and to take responsibility into their own hands. They are encouraged to think outside the box and to work on their own ideas and projects independently that can later be put to the company for consideration. Viessmann works to recognize and foster the individual strengths and talents of its employees. There is always an ear that will listen to good ideas, and Viessmann leadership has fostered this approach throughout every corner of the company. Employees are given opportunities to develop their skills and to advance their careers within the company.
The forerunning products of Viessmann’s Canadian product line are its high-efficiency commercial and residential gas-fired hydronic heating systems. On the residential side it has two flagship products: the Vitodens 100, and the Vitodens 200. These are wall-hung condensing boilers that contain stainless steel heat exchangers, and since their introduction to the Canadian marketplace, they have earned the trust of contractors through proven reliability and performance. The main differences between the two are their general size and heating capacity, as well as differences in control logic and capabilities. The Vitodens 200 is designed to heat a larger home, and it can be connected with other boilers in a cascading system to increase their overall output. The Vitodens 100 is a rock solid workhorse heating system for a regular sized home, apartment unit, or any limited space application. One key feature of the Vitodens 100 boiler series is that it features a combi boiler which can easily be integrated with a home’s plumbing to provide on-demand domestic hot water.
When they were introduced roughly fifteen years ago these two systems were unique to the Canadian market. At that time, most residential heating systems used cast iron floor-standing units. These two products were an innovation when Viessmann began offering them in Canada and the company set a trend that has carried forward. Today, boilers of this type are the new standard, and what makes these boilers stand out to this day, beyond their efficiency and performance, is the longevity of the product. The components that Viessmann builds into its equipment are of the best possible quality and have proven their reliability in the field.
In cases where a residence is already set up with the traditional floor-standing cast iron radiators, or when a new heating system is required but new piping and heating infrastructure is not feasible, customers can depend on the company’s drop-in residential boiler system, the Vitocrossal 300, CU3A. It is designed for ease of installation, with a small footprint and the ability to be connected to existing piping and radiators. A key feature of this and other Viessmann products is the advanced condensing technology used in their heat exchangers. The smooth stainless steel panels allow condensate to simply run off, resulting in an automatic self-cleaning system that reduces the need for maintenance and extends the life of the product.
On the commercial side, one of Viessmann’s core products is a gas-fired boiler called the Vitocrossal 300, CA3. This product is the company’s most powerful gas-fired condensing boiler and has become a very popular solution for apartment complexes, hospitals, schools, government facilities, and other customers with large scale heating needs because of its high heating capacity of up to six million BTUs. The product has occupied a niche in the market that has proven to be very responsive to its capabilities. It contains multiple heat exchangers as backup to prevent downtime. Designed with efficiency and long-term dependability as central considerations, this product has become a choice system for commercial customers.
Importantly, Viessmann is committed to supporting its products from beginning to end. “We offer an end to end solution,” says Michalski. “We don’t just sell it and forget it. We have almost four decades of physical presence here, and over that time we’ve really established ourselves as valuable partners.” The company has a sizable team of sales and marketing people, technical support, engineering staff, and post-sales personnel to support the product long into the future. Viessmann products are efficient and sustainable, and the company is always looking to the future, innovating new solutions to best meet customer needs.
Viessmann Canada specializes in heating systems, but its plan is to expand toward complete climate control solutions in the future. Climate control is about creating comfortable living spaces, and Viessmann is committed to moving in that direction with an eye to sustainability so that those spaces last for generations to come. “Viessmann Canada is primarily a heating company now, but we look at heating as one part of a larger sustainable climate and comfort solution. It’s something that orients us. It’s why we do what we do – the ultimate goal.” The company aims to be one of the top three globally recognized providers of climate solutions.
One key challenge for Viessmann, and for competing companies operating in Canada, is that hydronic heating has limited market share in the Canadian heating sector. The market is dominated by forced air, gas, and electric baseboard systems, leaving hydronic systems with a smaller niche to operate within. In Europe, hot water heating is the standard; in the UK for example, it represents 95 percent of the market. As a whole, hydronic heating companies face the challenge of educating the public on the benefits of the technology.
The advantages are many. Hydronic heating is highly efficient, making it one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly options available. Water holds more heat for longer than air does, meaning that with a forced air system the furnace will have to turn on far more frequently than the boiler in a water heating system. Electric baseboard heating consumes a great deal of energy and can be very expensive. These systems are much less efficient than hydronic systems and tend to create a bigger burden on the customer in terms of cost, and on the environment in terms of energy expense.
Hydronic systems, conversely, radiate heat evenly everywhere, making it the most comfortable option by reducing the likelihood of hot and cold spots common with other systems. Hot water systems are radiant, which means that they don’t move dust around like a forced air system will, making radiant heat a healthier option. Hydronic heating technology is beneficial in many ways, but Viessmann’s hydronic systems combine that technology with top quality manufacturing expertise and end to end support, making its products a favourite among contractors.
Viessmann is a family business that has been proudly providing people with warmth and comfort for more than a century. In Canada, the company has a history spanning forty years’ worth of brick and mortar, reputation, and human capital committed to bringing the heating industry toward sustainable solutions. Viessmann Canada’s mission has always been to create comfortable living spaces for generations to come, and going forward it aims to expand beyond warmth toward complete climate control solutions.