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IMP, CANADA’S MOST QUIETLY SUCCESSFUL DEFENCE COMPANY

IMP, CANADA’S MOST QUIETLY SUCCESSFUL DEFENCE COMPANY

My favourite story about Ken Rowe, the iconic founder of the IMP Group, involves his scrappy tussle with the Russian government, the Russian airline Aeroflot, a Russian oligarch and yes, even the Russian mafia (reportedly). Back in 1992 Rowe’s IMP Group had gone into a deal with Aeroflot to develop a hotel in Moscow and a power struggle ensued because the Aerostar Hotel had become so successful and the Russians thought they could squeeze IMP out and keep all the profits to themselves.

But, not so fast said Ken Rowe. Being the fighter he is, he did not back down. Owed millions of dollars by Aeroflot for the hotel deal, he used his connections and legal manoeuverings to have an Aeroflot airliner seized by Canadian authorities as it landed in Montreal on a regularly scheduled flight. To get its aircraft back, Aeroflot ended up paying IMP the money it was owed. Lesson learned, don’t mess with Ken Rowe and his IMP Group.

Ken Rowe is now a billionaire who built the IMP Group from scratch and it is still a privately held company, perhaps one reason why we do not hear as much about its many successes as we should. With CDR’s selection of IMP Aerospace & Defence as its #1 Defence Company for 2017, we hope to change that.

For our profile on this year’s # 1 Defence Company, we sent our Senior Staff Writer, Joetey Attariwala, to IMP’s head office in Halifax, Nova Scotia and as you will learn in Joetey’s incisive report, IMP Aerospace & Defence is an important contributor to Atlantic Canada’s economy, a leading employer in the region (perennially listed as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top Employers) and of course
it is a key supplier to Canada’s military.

IMP does critically important ISS (In Service Support) work on RCAF aircraft like the CH-124 Sea King helicopter, the CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter as well as the CP-140 Aurora maritime surveillance aircraft. And, with IMP’s acquisition of B.C. based, Cascade Aerospace a few year’s back, it is now one of the leading servicers of the Lockheed Martin C-130 aircraft worldwide.

As you will read in the IMP profile, the company also has some innovative ideas for boosting Canada’s search and rescue capabilities because, as we learned on our visit there, sitting in an IMP hangar in Halifax are 9 Kestrel helicopters left over from the cancelled Presidential helicopter program in the US. IMP says it has the capability to turn the Augusta Westland built helicopters (which had been acquired for spare parts by the Canadian government) into operational search and rescue aircraft, augmenting the current Cormorant helicopter fleet at a bargain basement cost.

IMP Aerospace & Defence may be just one division of IMP Group, the company Ken Rowe built, but it certainly bears his signature for delivering on what it promises and running a lean and efficient operation. CDR is pleased to name IMP Aerospace & Defence its #1 Defence Company for 2017.

CSC PROGRAM A DISASTER IN THE MAKING

Alan Williams is a former ADM MAT at DND who had responsibility for billions of dollars’ worth of defence procurement. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with him at his winter residence in Palm Beach, Florida to talk about some critical issues around defence procurement in Canada.

And, as you will read in my interview with Williams in this issue, he emphasized the three basic tenets of procurement: openness, fairness and transparency. But, unfortunately the CSC program, probably Canada’s biggest ever defence procurement initiative, (equipping Canada’s Navy with new state-of-the art warships) possesses NONE of those characteristics.

Government bureaucrats from PSPC and DND have ensured that the Canadian public learns very little about how billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money is being spent by, in effect, muzzling qualified CSC bidders.

We know there are great companies out there with interesting design solutions for CSC because we have written about them: FREMM Class from DCNS, Type 26 Global Combat ship from BAE Systems as well as Navantia’s F-105 class ship (in our last issue). Sadly, because of this gag order from PSPC the Canadian public will not be able to learn about the options available for this program in any kind of detail going forward.

We know this because when we have approached CSC bidders recently to talk about what they may have to offer for that program we are most often met with silence because they have, in effect, been spooked by the government’s gag order.

According to a CBC report, here’s what that directive in the CSC RFP says: “Neither the bidders, nor any of their respective subcontractors, employees or representatives shall make any public comment, respond to questions in a public forum or carry out any activities to either criticize another bidder or any bid — or publicly advertise their qualifications.”
We urge you read the Williams interview in this issue, not only for his opinion on the bizarre CSC gag order but also for his incisive views on the worrisome state of defence procurement in Canada overall.

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