Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR
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i indUSTry how the West defence was one denean Tomlin is executive director of the western Canadian Defence Industries Association. 40 APRIL/MAY 2015 www.vanguardcanada.com i n 2007, in a boardroom in southeast Calgary, a small group of like-minded businessmen gathered to discuss how opportunities in the defence industry could help to diversify their oil and gas customer base. They were an organization for small- and medium-sized businesses interested in exploring the possibilities. But they were also interested in under- standing such issues as control goods cer- tification, ITARs and how to connect with large prime contractors. Their discussion became a regular event and soon other like-minded SMEs were joining the conversation. From that first meeting, an industry association was born. The Western Ca- nadian Defence Industries Association (WCDIA) grew from a discussion among executives with Raytheon for an "open house," an event where colleagues in the sector could be informed not only of the capabilities and capacities available in the company's two Calgary locations, but also of the capabilities of industry part- ners in the province. General Dynamics, General Dynamics Land Systems, Meg- gitt and Harris all showed support for that early vision and the Alberta Defence Industries Symposium was created to launch that first event. In six short weeks over 80 people were gathered in a Calgary hotel for two days of interesting presentations focused on sus- tainability. The fact that it was timed to coincide with the Calgary Stampede only enhanced the networking opportunities. The event was so popular with attendees that it was quickly determined to develop an annual event to connect, share and pro- vide support to all participants in Western Canada. It needed a home with an orga- nization sharing the same vision; WestDef was the outcome and the WCDIA was the proud parent. WCDIA has been a passive organiza- tion, governed by a volunteer board and propped up by the success of the annual event created in its shadow. Thanks to the vision of the refreshed executive, a deci- sion to create long-term value, sustainable industry opportunities and to build a con- nection into the innovation ecosystem was created. The board now has as its goals and prior- ities to achieve as much alignment as pos- sible with the defence, security and aero- space associations supporting the western region to achieve a coordinated and ben- eficial effect for all of their members. That goal was further enhanced with a decision to bring on a full-time executive director and build upon the solid foundation West- Def has provided. With over 250 members and growing, the association proudly represents the industry in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba by promot- ing activities, connecting individuals, and creating networking opportunities and events. The pinnacle is WestDef, Western Canada's Premiere Defence and Security Conference. WestDef is the only national conference with a focus on maintenance, support and sustainability, along with the programs surrounding those issues. WCDIA also runs a series of networking events across the west. These "Rendez- Vous" highlight best practices, showcase capabilities and provide quality network- ing for both existing and new members. Each year will draw to a close at the "Final Rendez-Vous" in Ottawa at CANSEC. Utilizing a network comprised of indus- try, government agencies, national associa- tions and affiliate organizations, WCDIA's series of events and sessions are designed to attract the right people, with the right information, at the right time. Assisting government with inbound trade missions, creating a showcase of western capacity and capabilities or finding ways to advocate the issues facing the industry in the west, WCDIA is poised to assist. Western Canadian companies have a depth of expertise, a passion and a drive for doing business. Whether it's a CNC machining company, an information tech- nology company, or a developer of micro- and nano-technologies, the applications in the aerospace, defence, marine and security sectors are many. If you need to identify companies for supply chain development, innovative technology or need to source companies with unique engineering skills, contact WCDIA and we will be happy to assist. We are focused on opportunities for the west and want to encourage any company or or- ganization – local, national or international – to participate.