Michael Wrinch 1

Like, how his company got its name.

In his late teens and early twenties, Michael Wrinch worked throughout B.C. as a forest firefighter. “Being the physically smallest on the crew, I had to work twice as hard to prove myself which often meant I was trudging through mud and hauling extra equipment uphill like worker ants,” he says. “It was a tough but rewarding experience that taught me the value of teamwork early on.”

It was also where he picked up the nickname “Hedgehog,” given to him by some of his peers for always having dirt on his face. He used the name for Hedgehog Technologies, a specialized electrical engineering firm started in 2001 out of his attic with just himself and a dream to work on innovative projects in different countries.

As Wrinch applied his work ethic and team values from firefighting to his business, it grew in size and projects became more international, ranging from designing a military submarine, first-of-a-kind rollercoaster to solar microgrids for remote communities. Hedgehog Technologies recently moved into a new 6,000-square-foot office in Burnaby with a diverse team of engineers from all parts of the world.

Wrinch has been the president of Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC) and represents B.C. on the board of directors for Engineers Canada. Although he didn’t plan on going to university, he received his PhD from UBC and his BASc and MASc from Memorial University of Newfoundland. More on what motivated him to go and what else he does below.

What's your favourite spot in B.C.?

Nelson in the West Kootenays. It's a beautiful spot in the mountains with fresh air, a very chill community and endless outdoor activities.

Where did you go on your last vacation?

Barcelona and Madrid, Spain, with the family.

Favourite restaurant/bar?

Korean BBQ in Seoul's Myeong-dong Wangbijib restaurant. They place hot coals in the centre of the table and you get to grill a selection of bite-sized and perfectly seasoned meats

What's your most memorable podcast, film or book?

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker (I've recently started focusing on getting proper sleep and it has helped me in all aspects of my life).

What is your morning routine?

Up at 5 a.m., swim at 5:30, make breakfast at 6:30, 15 minutes of time spent practising mindfulness, then at work by 7.

Hobby?

North Shore mountain biking, hiking and making cheese.

What is your favourite quote?

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” —Sun Tzu

Best advice ever received?

Listen.

Your worst job ever?

I once worked at a fish factory. In Grade 10, I told my mom that I was never going to university, so she quickly reciprocated by "finding me a well-paying summer job." I spent my days scooping fish guts off the floor into barrels and I was assigned to clean the fish smoker chimney and recirculation pipes every month (it took four days to clean). University sounded like a pretty good idea after that summer..

If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?

Sea otter because they’re playful and caring creatures.