By RENÉ J. ROY
STEPHENVILLE – Fully admitting he didn’t know what to do after his retirement from the military, Carl Dymond managed to turn his initial investment of two hundred dollars into a company currently worth billions.
“I started my own business doing what I do best, with security products to government agencies and private companies. From there we just let it grow organically into an aerospace company that was able to buy an airport.”
The Dymond Group of Companies has several services offered under its corporate wing.
“Dymond Aerospace is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dymond Group. And then we have several business units within that are right now, profit and loss centers, that will be morphed into their own separate corporations as we build up those capabilities. So that’s I.T. Security, Trial Risk Management, Cyber Security, Health Systems. Right now there are business units that have minimal contracts, but as we build out the profit and loss centers they will become their own legal entities.”
The company was founded in 2016, which is an astounding rise in a little under six short years.
“We were lucky early on to come in contact with Hatch, and Leonardo, which is an Italian defense company. And from that, we did a lot of work that, being a small company and very agile company, we were able to give them a couple of very quick wins almost right off the bat. So with having Hatch as an endorsement, a zero-harm, ethical company to deal with; their social contract is just as strong as ours. So we were able to build up fast by getting the contracts with Hatch, getting that support early on, so that we could build our company.”
Carl Dymond served as a Signals Intelligence Specialist with the Canadian Forces for eighteen years. This involved almost exactly what one might expect from popular movies touching on the military genre.
“It’s intercepting foreign communications, working on the spectrum with various frequencies and all that kind of stuff. I did a lot of counter-insurgency work during my time in the military.”
Dymond served in Afghanistan, Libya, and was also involved in Counter-Narcotics and Counter-Piracy. He worked up North as well, but did not specify where he was deployed, stating simply that he was involved in protecting our northern sovereignty.
He has plans to relocate back to Newfoundland from Ontario.
“Up here we don’t have a strong emotional circle. My wife has a small family and we do see them quite regularly, but I want my kids to grow up around cousins that are their own age, not 20 years older.”
He has a larger family than his wife, but just like most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, “When I go home for Christmas, I see the same six aunts and uncles now with their children, my cousins, who have children of their own. So it’s about thirty five people that I see from Christmas Eve until Christmas Day. We just go to different houses and always have something to talk about.”
Dymond has professional plans around the province too. He shares that he has already met with representatives from the agricultural field, as well as fisheries groups in the region.
“We’ve been talking to local producers. Of course we want to support local as much as we can. But we also understand that there comes a scaling up of business to meet the demand that we’re looking for in certain industries.”
Products currently come off the Marine Atlantic Ferry in Port aux Basques, and are usually trucked down to distribution centres in St. John’s. The cargo is then separated and shipped back around the province to various stores and depots.
“So we have been talking to these guys in very minimal initial discussions to say ‘How can we do this in a sustainable, scalable, logical way?’,” explains Dymond. “We want to make sure that we do it in a logical way so that we aren’t shocking the market and disrupting it so much that it actually hurts the supply chain.”
Sustainability of the supply chain throughout the province is something that Dymond says has been on his to-do list since day one.
“I know that if Marine Atlantic doesn’t run for two or three days, that disrupts three or fours weeks in the supply chain. Thats something that we are looking to augment and help, and if thats boosting up local agriculture or aquaculture businesses to be able to give us more sustainable food security, then that’s a win for everyone.”
With drone manufacturing on the horizon in Stephenville, it also makes sense that if the ferry can’t travel due to poor weather conditions, then the drones might help to clear up some of that backlog.
“This is definitely on our radar,” says Dymond, who noted that the drones made by his company are able to travel despite adverse weather conditions.
“The team I have are the team that designed the Q400 Bombardier years ago. They’re all Bombardier guys, Airbus, De Havilland, working with us to design this aircraft to be able to work in Arctic conditions, in high winds. The engines that we use on these are designed to work in harsh, very harsh climates. We are designing our aircraft to be rugged. It doesn’t use a traditional runway. It can land on gravel or grass or pavement. It can withstand wind shear. It can withstand ice conditions. So it can also work in very cold conditions. We’re designing it to be a Canadian aircraft.”
The company also develops drones that are much smaller than the ones that can carry a sea-can. They have drones used in the oil and gas industries to monitor sites and equipment. Dymond says they want all of their vehicles, ground vehicles and aircraft, completely carbon neutral by 2030.
“Bringing in BioFuels, electric vehicles stuff like that,” says Dymond. “The technologies aren’t there yet for the distances that we need, but all of our R&D (research and development) money is going into that now. Our airport is going to have some of the smartest technologies in the world, but I want that airport to be entirely carbon neutral by 2030.”
Meanwhile work at the Stephenville airport has begun, but it hasn’t been without some challenges.
“We have our shelters at the airport right now, but what we’re finding is we don’t have enough jersey barriers (concrete highway dividers) to keep it down. We need three different sizes, so we are working to get those moulds made, and there are some companies and some individuals around that have them and sold them to us. But we need close to 95 barriers of three different sizes to fit around the shelter that we have. Normally we would tack it down to the apron itself, but you can’t get through that.”
The Stephenville airport has 12 foot thick concrete pads, something that is both a blessing and a curse. It allows for heavier and larger planes, but it’s impossible to drill into to secure the shelters, so an alternative had to be worked out.
“The Americans built that to last,” chuckles Dymond. “Jersey barriers are our only option there.”
The airport tarmacs will be resurfaced, but at the moment, as they await more Y dividers, work is concentrated on removing the grasses around the facility.
“All the grass you see around the airport? That’s all concrete pad underneath there too. That’s not grass on gravel; that just grew over our concrete pads. It is one literal square of concrete out there, about a thousand acres.”
The company is also working with local colleges and schools to provide the necessary training for the jobs they will create, something that Dymond says should begin in January 2022.
“Aerospace design, engineering all that, but then we need people setting up the manufacturing hubs that we have, shelters, the air shelters, the terminal,” shares Dymond. “We are probably going to need close to two thousand people to set those up between January and April.”
Already awash with a sea of résumés, the company is also building its own hiring website.
“We’re building a job website right now. Of course, the airport website has to be revamped with new logos and new flow to it. And then we’re setting up a site thats going to be where you can submit your résumé through a portal, and you click on the jobs you want from a drop-down menu.”
The company hopes to start hiring large numbers in January, but Dymond himself admits the delay in the jersey barriers has slowed them down a little bit already.
“Once we get these shelters put up, its going to show that we are putting something there. Right now they are hidden in a hangar, and it’s killing me. I want to show people tangible things.”