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Atlantica: North to Nunavut

Sunday, September 1, 2019

“Before I look at any market or opportunity, the first call I make is to NSBI,” says Christopher Curtis, business development manager for the Refuel Systems division of Atlantica, Nova Scotia’s largest combined-trades contractor. Right now, the market Curtis is looking at is Nunavut.

“When we started Refuel Systems, we were looking at Canada as the primary market but North America as a whole,” he says. “That led me to NSBI. There’s an immense amount of business intelligence within their walls. When you’re exporting and moving into other regions, the number one questions are, ‘Can we do the project well?’ and ‘Are we going to get paid for doing it?’ NSBI helps us answer those questions with a high degree of certainty that we’re making a good choice.”

“That led me to NSBI. There’s an immense amount of business intelligence within their walls."

With vast experience in working in Nunavut, NSBI understands this market and is a crucial resource for clients looking to explore the opportunity.

Atlantica’s connection to Nunavut began three years ago, when a NSBI trade mission brought deputy ministers and business leaders from Nunavut to Halifax. “They all made presentations and talked about what was required in the north,” Curtis says. “And then we sat down and had one-on-one discussions. A lot of their essential infrastructure – water and power – was built in the 1960s and 70s and is near the end of its life.”

Nunavut presents challenges to contractors, including the short construction season and the high cost of travel. Even so, Atlantica has sent people to the Nunavut Trade Show and Conference for the past three years. “In order for people to know you there, you’ve got to be there,” he says. “NSBI’s Export Growth Program has been invaluable.”

Through research, Curtis learned that much of the needed infrastructure could be built far more cheaply in the south and then shipped and assembled in the north, greatly reducing the territorial government’s costs to build the infrastructure.

Now Atlantica is starting to quote on projects in Nunavut.

For Nova Scotians, the key benefits when companies move into new markets are work, jobs, and innovation, Curtis says. “It means more people working at our plants because we’re expanding. It means training. And here in Halifax, we have a state-of-the-art computer-aided design (CAD) department. Being able to invest in innovations comes from our success in markets. And NSBI assisting us with that success is huge, because it enables us to make those investments.”


Does your business development plan include travelling outside of Nova Scotia? Reach out to a Regional Business Development Advisor and learn how the Export Growth Program can help grow your business.