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Onetwosix Design – Finding solutions through innovation

Onetwosix founders, Brendan Gallagher & Nick Kazakoff

Onetwosix founders, Nick Kazakoff and Brendan Gallagher are both graduates of the University of Alberta’s Industrial Design program – a program that Nick refers to as a “hidden gem” in the Edmonton region. The program has developed near mythic status in the design world – with students graduating into jobs with firms like Adidas, Nike and Lego to name a few – a testament to the depth and breadth of talent that is coming out of the post-secondary institutions in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region and Onetwosix is no exception.

They’ve seen some substantial growth since they were founded in 2015 and that success is translating into recognition. Onetwosix has recently received a Designer of the Year award from Western Living Magazine. They have developed design solutions ranging from office privacy, to medical equipment, to solutions for safe covid-19 screening. If there’s a design challenge, the pair have proven they are more than capable of finding innovative ways to solve it.

Nick credits the supportive business environment that exists within the Edmonton region for a lot of their success.

“We started out with investing only $4000 and were working out of a garage,” says Nick. “We really benefitted from initiatives like the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce’s Trade Accelerator Program that worked with us to bring our product to market. But on top of that, the local business community is incredible. When it came time to expand our operations and we needed more space, another well-established design firm in the area, IZM, offered to let us share some of their workspace. They could have viewed us as the competition but instead they provided us with incredible support and mentorship.”

The duo’s biggest success has come with their Loop Phone Booth, an office privacy solution made to address the drawbacks that were starting to emerge in open-concept office spaces. The pair’s modern take on phone booths has generated a lot of interest, translating into orders from big name companies like Shopify, Mercedes Benz and even Pokemon.

The Loop Phone Booth

“The reception to our designs has been incredible,” says Nick. “And working with these companies has been amazing.”

When it came to the decision of where to manufacture their designs, Nick says the decision was pretty simple.

“The Edmonton region has such a strong background when it comes to expertise in manufacturing, it made sense to build our product here,” points out Nick. “The capabilities here are really sophisticated. And while traditionally, a lot of the manufacturing that’s been happening here has been in the energy sector, those same tools, knowledge and skillsets are completely translatable for our industry.”

This decision to establish their manufacturing operations in the region has also helped them in other ways. Being located in the Edmonton region meant much faster shipping times for their North American clients compared to some of their competitors and it provided a gateway into the US market.

“We’ve also benefitted from government incentives like the Canadian Export Grant,” says Nick. “This really helped us break into the US market with our office furniture solutions.”

But this innovative firm is not content to simply focus on one niche market. In fact, one of the greatest strengths of this innovative firm lies in their ability to apply their design skills to a broad range of industries.

“We’ve always approached design by thinking about the people that will be using our product. And we look for the solutions that are unique to that person and their situation – it’s truly a human-centred approach,” says Nick. 

It’s this attitude that has seen the duo successfully take on the daunting challenge of designing the housing for an MRI machine, to help make patients feel more at ease, and on the complete opposite side of the design spectrum, they’ve developed a new design for a line of curling brooms.

More recently, Onetwosix has shifted their focus again, using their unique skillsets to address some of the challenges that have emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, they’ve designed the Loop Rapid Screening Booth, a modular design that creates a safe environment for people administering COVID-19 testing, making the procedure quicker and safer and eliminating the use of some PPE equipment – which has seen a huge surge in demand throughout the pandemic.  Their design has been authorized as a Class 1 medical device for use in relation to COVID-19 by Health Canada and the pair is working hard to bring their concept to market. They are actively building partnerships with airports where rapid testing could support the air travel industry – arguably the hardest hit industry throughout the pandemic.

“A product like this has the ability to impact a broad range of industries though,” says Nick. “From airports to healthcare, to schools, to almost any businesses wanting to create a safe environment for their employees – we see the potential for our Rapid Screening Booth to have a broad impact.”

You can learn more by reaching out to the team at Onetwosix by following this link.

HOW NABATI FOODS IS CARVING OUT A SPOT IN THE PLANT-BASED FOOD MARKET

The Edmonton-based company sells cheesecakes and cheese shreds, and will soon launch a line of meat alternatives and expand into the U.S.

When Ahmad Yehya and his partner, Afaf Miri, started Nabati Foods in 2014, they set out to show consumers that it’s possible to eat mouth-watering foods and also live a healthy life.

“It’s based out of passion for whole, plant-based foods. We started out making desserts that we sold at farmers’ markets and our vision is to inspire those that value their health to indulge in clean foods … and positively impact the climate as well,” said Yehya, president of the company.

“We saw that North American culture was so different than where we came from,” Yehya explained, who is Egyptian but grew up in Saudi Arabia before moving to Canada at university age. “You can still have amazing food whether you want to consume burgers or something else by incorporating plant-based foods.”

They started with desserts as they didn’t find many whole-food alternatives and they wanted to fill that gap in the market. Their first product line was a selection of dairy-free cheesecakes, including blueberry, chocolate, tiramisu and peanut butter. Cheese alternatives followed, with their current selection including cheddar and mozzarella shreds. Soon they will be offering slices as well.

Their most popular product is the Nabati Cheeze Mozzarella Style Shreds, which they created to taste and melt exactly like dairy cheese.

The products are developed in-house and the team invests a considerable amount of time perfecting each recipe. They mostly use peas, nuts and coconut in their products.

“We start out with seeing what’s out there and what the consumer expects. Then we look at where the gaps are and try to make a product that bridges that.”

The focus is more about the process of making each product than the formulation and Yehya said they intentionally incorporated scalability into that.

As they’ve learned from each product line, they’ve improved their processes and gotten faster. While their cheesecakes took a few years to develop, their newest line was developed in a few months.

That line of meat alternatives is launching later this summer with chicken, fish and beef patties as well as ground beef.

While companies like Beyond Meat have dominated that space in recent years, Yehya isn’t worried about his company’s ability to be successful.

“We develop our products to directly compete with them and position ourselves in a way that you’re not just buying a meat alternative but you’re supporting a Canadian company that creates jobs here.

“We’re trying to come in and position our unique brand in the market by also offering products that are not necessarily addressed by the big brands. We’re creating products that stand out from the competition.”

When the idea to start Nabati Foods was born, Yehya pooled his money with his wife Afaf Miri and his father to lease and renovate a 1,700-square-foot space in Edmonton that the company’s team of six is still using as their main production facility. But Yehya said they need a space three to four times that size to support growth in Canada and the United States.

“We’re at a point where if we raise capital and resources, we can grow really quickly versus having to continue doing things ourselves and it would take much longer,” said Yehya.

Currently, their products can be ordered online and are available across Canada, mostly at Save on Foods and Sobeys/Safeway stores as well as many independents.

They’ve had to turn down opportunities because everything that’s being made is selling out and it’s been tough to keep up with demand. Looking forward, he’s working on getting Nabati Foods into five distribution centres in the United States.

“We know we can do more.”

Yehya is confident there’s nothing as unique as their products on the market and Nabati Foods will look to capitalize on that as it adds more plant-based foods down the line.

THE ALBERTA PETROCHEMICALS INCENTIVE PROGRAM WILL ENHANCE ALBERTA’S ABILITY TO ATTRACT INVESTMENT

July 9, 2020 – Fort Saskatchewan – The Government of Alberta today announced the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program (APIP), designed to attract value-add petrochemical investments and encourage continued growth in the advanced chemical manufacturing sector. 

“The Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program, as announced today, will have a significant impact on enhancing the competitiveness of Alberta when attracting large scale, value-add investments, relative to other global jurisdictions,” said Mark Plamondon, Executive Director of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association. “This program, coupled with the other tremendous competitive advantages that Alberta’s Industrial Heartland has to offer, will contribute to the attraction of an expected $30 billion in new petrochemical investments by 2030.” 

With cost-advantaged natural resources, a diverse and skilled workforce, and world class infrastructure, including world-leading carbon capture and storage infrastructure, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is well-positioned to leverage the new Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program and we believe it will help attract formidable investment to our region. With more than 95% of the world’s manufactured products relying on chemistry and value-add manufacturing, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is part of a global supply chain that produces more than 70,000 products that we use every day. Alberta is a shining example of how jurisdictions can stimulate the economy and demonstrate environmental leadership by recognizing the importance of lowering greenhouse gas emissions. 

ABOUT ALBERTA’S INDUSTRIAL HEARTLAND ASSOCIATION 

The Industrial Heartland region is considered a world-class location for petrochemical, manufacturing, oil and gas investment and is also Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing region. It is a powerful economic driver for Alberta and Canada and offers attractive competitive advantages in energy diversification and industrial development. 

Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association is dedicated to coordinating, advocating, and promoting responsible industrial development in the Heartland region. The Association is a cooperative effort of Lamont County, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County, and the Cities of Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan. 

Media Contact: 

Tracey Hill, Manager of Communications & Community Relations 
tracey@industrialheartland.com / 780-998-7453 

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