By KRYSTLE CHOW
Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
May 30, 2011
Click here to view this article on OBJ.ca.
Neil Rutter says he’s long advocated for the opening of an Ottawa outpost for Textron Systems, one that’s to be more than just a small marketing office for the Massachusetts-based defence technology company.
Mr. Rutter, an Ottawa native who’s returning to Textron after a two-year stint at a Washington, D.C. firm, says he suggested the location during his previous seven years as Textron’s director of international contracts.
“This is a prime business development location for defence business and a logical base for us; the customer is here and it’s as close as we can get,” says the newly minted general manager of Ottawa-based Textron Systems Canada, which opened in late March.
The company launched the local office to more efficiently compete in the Department of National Defence’s tactical armoured patrol vehicle, or TAPV, program, the contract for which is expected to be awarded around June 2012. Textron’s marine and land systems division was one of seven prequalified bidders for the project.
The program, which a DND spokesperson said would procure up to 500 vehicles plus an option for an additional 100 units, is part of the $5-billion Family of Land Combat Vehicles group of projects. The TAPVs will replace the Canadian Forces’ current fleet of soft-skinned and older light-armoured vehicles. Production is expected to begin in 2013, with the project to reach full operational capability in 2015, according to program information posted online.
If Textron is successful in its bid, the Ottawa location will be a hub for the overall program management of the project, for the co-ordination of other Canadian companies for vehicle assembly and integration, and to provide in-service support through the program’s 25-year lifespan.
In its press release announcing the office’s opening, Textron said it will also contribute to future development in the aerospace and defence space as part of the Industrial Regional Benefits program, although Mr. Rutter declined to provide specific details for competitive reasons.
However, the company did say it plans to support a TAPV win with the addition of more than 300 long-term jobs in Canada through its IRB participation, largely in its suppliers’ employee bases.
While Mr. Rutter acknowledges the local office itself isn’t likely to become a huge operation – it currently employs five people, with the expectation it will go up to about 20 within the next year – he says it will play a key role in Textron’s marketing engine, especially given Canada’s strong support for export business through Export Development Canada and the Canadian Commercial Corp.
A TAPV win will help with that international business development, since the firm will already have Canadian content and be able to market and provide support for similar products, but Mr. Rutter notes Textron Systems Canada has other opportunities in the pipeline as well.
He says the replacement of Canada’s crop of unmanned aerial vehicles could be one thrust in the medium term, and Textron is also interested in pursuing the C4ISR – which stands for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance – business, as the firm has expertise in sensors and intelligence software analysis tools for the space.