Untapped Opportunities in Disaster Recovery

Floods, wildfires, explosions—disasters are the new norm. The biggest opportunities for SMEs to help—and profit

Written by PROFIT staff

Speakers at Toronto’s World Conference on Disaster Management reveal the best opportunities created by increasing natural disasters and how to capitalize on them.

Richard Kinchlea – President, BCOM Crisis  Operations Management (Guelph, Ont.)

“When there’s a disaster, people expect that private firms will help with recovery—and make some money doing so. It gets sticky when they feel exploited, so don’t escalate prices. And don’t drive up in a Jag. In terms of opportunities, there’s a big one in temporary housing, especially in remote communities. When a disaster destroys homes in these places, most people want to remain but have nowhere to stay. I think sending in mobile homes temporarily has potential to be a good venture.”

Suzanne Bernier – Principal, SB Crisis Consulting (Toronto)

“Whenever there’s any disaster—manmade or natural—the biggest threat for most people is losing power. People are so reliant on technology, and they want to be able to charge their devices. The market could use more crank-powered chargers for cellphones or laptops. In the U.S., a few corporations deploy mobile charging stations to disaster sites for the public to use; it’s great community service. I haven’t seen that in Canada yet, but I think it’s a service telcos would embrace.”

Jason Brolund – Deputy Fire Chief, Kelowna Fire Department (Kelowna, B.C.)

“In disaster response, we’re always looking for new products and services that can help us—just don’t wait until the disaster to try to sell it to us. In the middle of flood season, for instance, I’ll always get 10 offers from people selling sandbags. That’s not the time; we’re too busy then. And besides, we need time to test the product and work out supplier arrangements. Those who come to us when it’s quiet and understand the system in which we operate tend to be the ones who succeed.”


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