After a successful, 42-year career at SED/Calian, Bill Gryba is retiring, effective January 5, 2024. Bill retires as Manager, Satellite Services and Support, but he started his career with the company back in January 1982 as a Technical Assistant for SED Research Ltd (SRL).
One of Bill’s first jobs was making semi-rigid cables for a test loop translator (TLT). He remade them after taking some soldering training. At the start of his career, Bill also worked on some early grain loss monitor sensor development projects with one of the SRL engineers. Bill was fortunate to have Don Cruikshank and Darryl Wurtz as his mentors when he first started working for the company.
Bill has witnessed the company evolve during his four-decade career. “At SRL, we had a teletype machine to send and receive messages in the corner of the lab,” said Bill. “We communicated with other departments located in different buildings throughout the city using three-way paper memos to send written communications and some of the first ‘Intel’ programming data storage machines used a 10-inch floppy disk for program storage. In the early days, we also made our own strip line circuit boards in-house and we manually tuned them. It was a big improvement to get all the departments that were working at various buildings around Saskatoon moved to our current centralized location at 18 Innovation Boulevard. Who can forget when smoking at the desk was allowed? We’ve come a long way.”
Some of Bill’s proudest moments working for this company include his early days getting the ATE and HPVEE programs working for various project workstations. “I’m proud of the fact that over the years we have had many happy and satisfied customers because of the hard work of our customer service team here in Saskatoon,” said Bill. “I’m also proud to be part of a small group of people who have celebrated their 40-year work anniversary.”
“Before Bill was the Service Manager, he was the testing tech software ‘go to’ person.” says Kevin Grassing, Senior Technical Officer. “In 1995, I was tasked with being the lead on technology transfer from England and bringing up our semi-automated test platforms. England and our customer wanted us to mimic the 1980's HP basic coded platforms they were using, but Bill proposed modernizing to a PC windows GUI based on the newer HP VEE platform at the time instead. I agreed with Bill, and we challenged risk analysis and we won. Bill also did a fantastic job in 1998 working on the software, interfacing new and old equipment along with our custom test jigs. Bill also created user interfaces that are still modern. This is noteworthy because we use the same VIU PC VEE platform today, as they are easily adapted as the equipment changes.”
“I have had the pleasure of working with Bill as both a customer and colleague for the past 17 years,” says Russ Beaudin, Vice President, Defence. “Bill has always impressed me with the efforts he puts in and the compassion he exhibits when ensuring the success of Calian’s customers. Bill is not just someone who comes to work on a daily basis, he has spent a career working to make a difference—which he has in both the defence manufacturing and satellite communications industries. Bill will be missed by his colleagues and customers alike.”
Bill has witnessed changes in the industry during his 42 years with the company. “Some of the first projects I was involved with were delivered with ‘C’ band waveguide systems,” he said. “You can still see photos around the meeting rooms of the racks and racks of equipment that were required for one RF system, and now even more capability can be fit into the back of one antenna hub. Surface mount technology has also had a huge impact, not only in what we build but also how we live.”
“Bill and I go way back to the early 1980’s. We both were stationed in the old air force building on Koyl Avenue,” says Dale Taylor, Senior Technologist. “He was involved as a test tech on several products the company was building at the time, from agriculture monitors to RF circuit prototype development. He left for a short time to finish up his degree. Upon his return he plugged right back into his passion for electronics on the test bench. Bill’s a negotiator, strong communicator and possesses a great sense of humour. His interactions with staff and external customers have made him a valued employee. We’ve been privileged to have had him lead the service team for the last 10+ years, and I wish him all the best in retirement.”
When Bill was asked what motivated him to continue working with the company for the past four decades, he said, “I have enjoyed working on a wide variety of projects and in various capacities over my career here. I’ve been fortunate to work with, and learn from, many people who are more talented, have greater skills and are smarter than I. I have also been lucky to have enjoyed working with so many of those people at SED/Calian.”
Jennifer Lester, Manager of Production said, “When I first started in the position of Production Manager, Bill came by my office to see how I was doing, and he said something along the lines of ‘You’ll find out what you don’t know when someone asks you for something you don’t know how to do.’ I’m not doing it justice, but it was great advice. He was basically saying ‘don’t worry, just take it one step at a time and be open to learning’. Since then, we’ve had many conversations offering advice and support to each other. I’ll miss our chats. and I wish him all the best in retirement.”
“I haven’t had the opportunity of working with Bill much, but he was always a welcome addition at lunch to the ‘tech table’ with a friendly smile and interesting commentary,” said Dale Olenchuk, Senior Technologist.
"Bill has been key to the success of Calian Advanced Technologies," says Scott Remeshylo, Vice President, Manufacturing. "His many years of experience in multiple projects and processes are invaluable. I admire Bill for his dedication and support."
Bill was asked if it was difficult to decide to retire, and he had this to say: “When you think of saving money all your working career then going to the scenario where your savings start to diminish instead of grow, it was something I had to wrap my head around,” he said. “They say you will know when you are ready to retire. It was one evening in December 2022 that I knew I would work one more year full-time. The anniversary of the day I started my career seemed like a good time to retire.”
“Bill is the face of Calian to so many of our customers after the initial project/product is delivered,” says Dan Coode, Vice President, Terrestrial Networks. “It’s a testament to him that we get as much repeat business as we do. I remember the many times we’ve gone over product support terms trying to find a way to support our customers without losing our shirt, and thankfully we never have. His knowledge and experience will be missed and not easily replaced, but he leaves behind a strong support department.”
During his retirement, Bill plans to spend more time with his wife, who is already retired, and help with the grandkids. He also plans on spending a bit more time to live a healthier lifestyle. “I will ease into retirement by working casual hours at Calian to help support the new Service Manager and work on outstanding issues. The extra time will also allow me more time to make and play music with my retired bandmates. I look forward to not having to decide what I’m going to take to work for lunch.”
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