Local man travels to Mongolia, China to install series of boilers

It’s a long way from Rimbey, Alberta to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, but that’s exactly where a local boiler installer found himself recently and he also had the opportunity to see some of the Orient’s oldest and most recognizable symbols.

A new luxury hotel in Ulan Bator

A new luxury hotel in Ulan Bator

Review staff

It’s a long way from Rimbey, Alberta to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, but that’s exactly where a local boiler installer found himself recently and he also had the opportunity to see some of the Orient’s oldest and most recognizable symbols.

Doug Madu of AspenWorks Mechanical of Crstomere spent two weeks in the Orient installing a number of new boilers in a soon-to-be luxury hotel.

“Two of us were sent over there to commission some new boilers over to the Mongolians,” he said. “A company in Winnipeg built the boilers and I am an agent for them or a dealer, you could say.”

Madu said a rather wealthy entrepreneur purchased seven new boilers for the luxury resort that is just one of several business ventures for the individual who also owns and operates an 11,000 hectare farm, a gold mine, a coal mine and several other operations.

The entrepreneur’s farm manager was in southern Alberta when he saw the boilers, and after contacting the manufacturer in Winnipeg, Madu was contacted to see if he was interested in traveling to Mongolia to oversee their installation.

“We sent over some plans on proper engineering and how to hook them up. Once they had them all hooked up, myself and an engineer went over there to start them up to show them how to run them,” he said. “The company chose myself and the other guy to go there.”

Madu said it was his first visit to Asia and he found the people of Mongolia to be very congenial.

“It’s a nice country and they are really nice people,” he said. “They’re quite poor but it doesn’t seem to affect them any and they treated us really well.”

Apparently, not everyone is poor.

Madu said the client purchased the boilers for around $47,000 each and he’s already put in orders for more.

“He took seven full boilers and two for parts,” Madu said. “He’s also going to take two more for his beef processing plant and another three for his farm. It doesn’t cost much more to ship a boiler by sea over to Mongolia than it is to ship it from Winnipeg to Alberta, because the ships are usually going back empty.”

As for his trip, Madu said it was a 12-hour flight from Vancouver to Beijing, China followed by another two-hour flight from Beijing to Ulan Bator – famous for being known as the birthplace of Genghis Khan. From there, it was a 70 kilometre drive to the resort.

Along the way, Madu spent some time in China where he visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.

“It’s amazing,” he said of the Great Wall. “It feels pretty neat to walk in the same footsteps as ancient Chinese warriors.”

He said he also noticed some explosive growth in Beijing as it prepares for this summer’s Olympic Games.

“Construction of high rises is on a scale that I’ve never seen before,” Madu said. “They’re building like crazy. It’s very busy. The city has eight million people and it’s growing at a rapid pace – it’s just unbelievable. The downtown core is almost as big as the entire city of Calgary.”

And while things may be economically rosy for the entrepreneur and construction firms in Beijing, the same can’t be said for those living in rural areas.

“The dwellings were nothing like you’d see here,” he said. “You’d see guys with a great big pile of corn stocks on the back of a bicycle that he’s probably taking home to burn for heat. Nothing is wasted over there. Pretty much every square inch of land is used for agriculture. They figure if China keeps growing at the same rate it is right now, it’ll take another whole world in 30 years just to provide the food and material to keep them going,”

As for any comparisons between the two countries, Madu said the breakup of the former Soviet Union, which at one time controlled Mongolia, has both hurt and helped the much smaller country.

“Mongolia is much more laid back than China,” he said. “The people seem to be a bit more friendly. The capital city is very impoverished. When the Soviet Union broke up they just kind of left. They left all their military equipment behind and now vehicles and portable buildings have been converted into housing.”

Mongolia is a country that borders Russia to the north and China to the south and their political system is a parliamentary republic.

At 1,564,116 square kilometres, Mongolia is the nineteenth largest, and the least densely populated independent country in the world with a population of around 2.9 million people.

And just for the record, the distance from Rimbey to Ulan Bator is 8,201 kilometres.