Last month, Prism Engineering celebrated Casey Gaetz’s 30th anniversary with the company. Family, friends, and colleagues gathered to thank him for his hard work and commitment over the years. The event was a lot of fun, with a hilarious tribute video by the Electrical team, a delicious meal featuring some of his favourites (Greek food and Black Forest cake) and lots of laughter.

We sat down with Casey, our Electrical Team leader, to learn more about the influences that led him to build a career in electrical design, his early years at Prism, and his contributions to the expansion of the Prism electrical services portfolio. We also talked about how much he has valued working with his team over the years to respond to evolving industry demands.

Left to right: Black Forest cake and a tribute to Casey during a company meeting. 

Early interest in electrical design

Born and raised in Ontario, Casey became interested in electrical design at a young age, as his father worked as an electrical inspector for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) during World War II and as a building engineer for Sears. “I grew up surrounded by the electrical equipment he used for work,” he remembers.

Casey moved West after more than 15 years of experience at one of the largest engineering firms in Toronto at that time, having worked on several big projects, such as the Toronto Eaton Centre, TD Centre, CNE Buildings, Metro Toronto Zoo, and the Toronto Sky Dome, among many others. He had also worked as a sales and engineering manager at a lighting manufacturing company.

“But after all this time, I was getting a little itchy. I wanted to see what else the world had to offer”, he admits. As he began looking for new opportunities, a colleague introduced him to Brian O’Donnell, P.Eng., who had founded Prism Engineering three years earlier. “I was told Brian was looking for an electrical-type person to join his firm. The interview was probably the most casual anyone could image. We had dinner together, and he convinced me to come to Vancouver to test the job for a week”, he reminisces.

The rest is history. Casey left Ontario with his wife and three children on Boxing Day in 1993 under temperatures below 30°C and drove for several days across the USA until they finally reached the West Coast. “As we drove down the mountains, we saw green everywhere. It was like we were heading to paradise,” he remembers.

A young Casey in Ontario, before moving to B.C.

Expanding the electrical portfolio

“It was a small office on the second floor above a restaurant in Burnaby Heights,” recalls Casey about his first days working at Prism Engineering. “It was a bit rough; we didn’t even have air conditioning in the summer, and all the computers were not even connected to a server,” he jokes.

The cramped structure of the office didn’t make him regret it. “Since the beginning, Prism sounded very professional,” he notes. “That first week I spent here convinced me this was real business, with big clients such as Canadian Airlines (Air Canada) and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). I knew we had potential, and that energy savings was an exciting and growing field to explore,” he adds.

As he took on the role, Casey began by expanding Prism’s services in electrical design and lighting system upgrades, in the wake of new technologies emerging in the industry. From there, Casey and his growing team continued to look for opportunities for their clients. In partnership with BC Hydro, for example, they developed building Electrical Distribution System Optimization (EDSO) standards to optimize electrical systems and reduce clients’ energy consumption. This is now part of BC Hydro’s systems
standards for substations.

Recently, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to shut down operations (and buildings) for several months, Casey and his team approached building managers to conduct assessments of their electrical distribution systems, including emergency systems, lighting and fire alarms.

Casey in Prism’s first office in Burnaby Heights.

Key projects

Looking back, Casey is proud of how the Electrical Team has helped clients achieve substantial results in energy savings and carbon reduction. This has been possible through the development of a holistic suite of electrical services from design to implementation.

In lighting, the team has earned industry recognition by undertaking award-winning projects for the Richmond Olympic Oval, the Vancouver Convention Centre and NAV Canada’s Surrey Area Control Centre, among others.

Left to right: Richmond Olympic Oval, the Vancouver Convention Centre and NAV Canada’s Surrey Area Control Centre.

Other projects are remembered for their uniqueness, such as the Solar PV system for the University of Fraser Valley (UFV), which demonstrated Prism’s expertise in the new and growing area of photovoltaics. Or, for example, many upgrades to electrical distribution and emergency generator projects throughout BC.

To keep the team focused, Casey likes to remind them of the role of consultants. “We are consulting engineers. It’s no surprise that the word ‘consultant’ comes before ‘engineer,’” he likes to say. “We must work with the client to assess their needs and budget, and determine and present the good, better, and best solution so they can make a logical decision and move forward,” he explains.

Looking ahead

As the industry becomes increasingly focused on carbon reduction via options such as fuel-switching, Casey and his team are focused on what this means for Prism’s clients. One outcome he sees is a greater demand for services starting with Facility Condition Assessments (FCA), which also includes Electrical Systems Assessments. Existing buildings need to be assessed for their capacity to meet these changes and evaluated for their ability to undergo necessary system upgrades.

In addition to FCA, Casey has structured the team around two other key service areas to meet future industry demands: EV Charging and Solar PV. These add to the solid expertise Prism has developed in Lighting Audits and Design, Lighting Controls, and Electrical Distribution and Emergency Generators.

Although each team member has specific knowledge in certain areas, Casey likes to create opportunities for everyone on the team to stay up to date with all services so they can provide support when needed. He encourages his team to stay ahead of the game and seek out new learning opportunities.

“We need to look beyond today by understanding what the industry is currently doing and how those changes will impact our work tomorrow,” he says.

Casey himself is always on the lookout for new learning experiences. Recently, he went on an expedition cruise to Antarctica with other industry professionals to see firsthand the impacts of climate change on wildlife and the local environment. The impact of this experience has inspired him to continue asking “what can I do next?” to help clients with the challenges ahead.

Casey talking with clients during Prism’s 25th anniversary celebration.

Related Services

Electrical Services

Related Resources

University of Fraser Valley | Solar Photovoltaics System
Richmond Olympic Oval | Event Hall Lighting Upgrade
Vancouver Convention Centre Award-winning Lighting Upgrades (PDF)
Prism wins Awards of Merit for Lighting Design at NAV Canada
Rocky Mountain SD No. 6: Operations and maintenance fleet is ready to go electric
Electrical Assessment Reports: Your roadmap to EV charging