Photos: Courtesy of Survival Systems Limited

Survival Systems: Providing a Crash Course Globally

Could you survive a helicopter crash? The founder of Survival Systems did. Since then, saving lives has been the company’s number one priority. Today it does so on a bigger scale than you might imagine.

Since 1982, Nova Scotia-based Survival Systems has been providing helicopter emergency egress simulation devices and survival training programs for the offshore, marine, aviation and industrial sectors – essentially simulating a life-threatening experience for anyone who may have to react, escape, effect a rescue or survive such a situation in water, air or land.

The company’s flagship Modular Egress Training Simulator (METS™), introduced in 1987, replicates the interior of various aircraft platforms. Today, more than 100 METS have been manufactured, and distributed in 30 countries, including the U.S., Australia, Germany, France, Poland, Chile, Korea, Indonesia, Nigeria and India.

Survival Systems has sold more than 100 training simulators in 30 countries.

“We export our product and our expertise,” says president and CEO Paul Douglas. “Whether you work offshore in Indonesia or in Mexico, we believe you should have an equal chance at surviving a helicopter crash.”

Like the situation for most businesses, 2009 was a rough year, as governments and companies delayed important buying decisions. By 2011, things picked up for Survival Systems after they secured two large contracts with the U.S. military and with Russia’s largest oil and gas company.

Diversifying its market base helped the company get through the downturn. And when manufacturing is down, there’s always training to be done.

Small steps to giant leap

Photos: Courtesy of Survival Systems Limited

Photos: Courtesy of Survival Systems Limited

By 2012, Survival Systems was providing simulators and training to every division of the U.S. military. That same year, it increased its focus on private sector training, concentrating on the offshore oil and gas sector.

Then came another big move: securing a partner and sister company in India, which helped Survival Systems win a contract with the Indian navy to install a full simulation theatre in 2013. Today the company has global sales of more than $15 million.

But it’s a lot more than about the money. “Saving lives is in our DNA,” says Douglas. “We’re always looking for joint ventures, but it’s critical to find the right partners – partners who are truly concerned with seeing that everyone has the best equipment and training.”

Moving forward, Douglas hopes to expand the business further in Russia and Korea, and enter new markets, such as Italy, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and South Africa, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

How EDC Helps

Since 2000, Survival Systems has used several of EDC’s services to expand internationally, including contract performance and loan guarantees and insurance – such as the Account Performance Security Guarantee and Export Guarantee Program.

“If you grow too fast, you can burn out,” says Douglas. “So to be successful you need controlled growth. Having EDC secure our contracts helps smooth out our business.”

“Manufacturing can take four to six months, so we can draw down (loan funds) during that time; it’s a great advantage. It allows our company to grow without putting too much stress on the organization.”

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