As much as human beings would love to be able to thwart it, disaster is part of life on Earth.
Whether they’re natural disasters, such as hurricanes or tornados or flooding, or human-caused mayhem, such as the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, these events cause disruption and chaos.
And more and more, in the middle of the chaos, you’ll find a vehicle from Nomad Global Communication Solutions, a high-tech manufacturer based in Columbia Falls that produces vehicles uniquely adapted as communication hubs for nearly any disastrous situation.
Nomad celebrates 15 years in business this year, a milestone marked with a party on Sept. 25. After that, it was back to work producing connected mobile operations centers for emergency response teams, government agencies and businesses with remote communication requirements.
As the anniversary celebration took place, Nomad vehicles were in use in current disaster cleanups, from Hurricane Harvey, which flooded and decimated Houston, Texas, to the fallout from Hurricane Irma in Florida.
“Our products, especially the rugged tactical line, are well-suited to challenging environments and compromised infrastructure,” Mike Hahn, Nomad’s creative and marketing coordinator, said last week.
The business idea for Nomad started with four friends from college — Will Schmautz, Seth Schmautz, Clay Binford, and Shane Ackerly — while they were working as river guides and saw how the wildfire seasons affected communication capabilities. Since then, Nomad has grown from a small operation producing custom trailers in 2005 to a fully realized company with expansion in the works and products across the globe.
Hahn said the company’s focus on efficient and effective communication solutions that are reliable in times of unreliability have made their products an important piece of disaster response.
But there’s always room for improving those systems, he said.
“Nomad strives to create truly integrated technology solutions that work seamlessly together. Our ultimate goal is to create systems that deploy quickly, can be operated by anyone and experience zero downtime,” Hahn said. “The Nomad Total Command software is the linchpin for this integration, and is currently undergoing major development to better serve our customers’ missions.”
Nomad has built command center vehicles and trailers for various agencies and businesses. In 2006, the company built its first for a federal contract, creating three trailers for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By 2007, it was building 53-foot trailers for the U.S. Army’s tank training. Three years later, Nomad began work on its biggest contract: 18 vehicles for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Nomad vehicles began to proliferate across the U.S., showing up in national disasters. In 2011, the Missouri River flooded, and the Army Corps of Engineers was a hub for emergency response, with Nomad vehicles at the forefront.
By 2012, the Nomad Total Command vehicle debuted, and purchasers included the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In 2013, when terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency used its Nomad custom trailer during the fallout. A year later, the National Guard purchased 75 vehicles to replace units that were used for initial response in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Nomad vehicles have served in many first response and emergency management situations, including Hurricane Katrina, the Boston Marathon bombing and 2011 Missouri River flooding,” Hahn said. “Nomad products are currently deployed in Texas and Florida to assist hurricane recovery efforts, and a number of Nomad-built vehicles are working in the Caribbean for Irma and Maria disaster response.”
Recently, the company’s focus has been partially on its tactical command vehicles, which Hahn said are a “sharp contrast” to typical command centers in that they’re more compact, nimble and capable of being driven off pavement.
“(We are) constantly looking for areas of opportunity and growth. In recent years, we’ve developed and refined a suite of tactical vehicles, trailers, and other command and communication solutions,” Hahn said. “We also recently shipped a suite of mobile command and medical vehicles to Germany for service in the United States European Command.”
Another filled order was engineering a mobile wheelchair and apparatus-fitting vehicle for the Tennessee Department of Intellectual Disabilities, Hahn said, noting that it shows the company’s ability to create solutions for a broad range of issues.
Sales are on the rise, he said, and Nomad’s expansion plans are ambitious; there will always be a need for a measured response to chaos.
“We’ve served law enforcement, first responder, fire, healthcare, and numerous other industries throughout our history,” Hahn said. “We’re experiencing great growth in all these markets, and are also rapidly expanding our service of military and public utility customers, as well as developing command and communication solutions for several foreign governments, including Panama and Saudi Arabia.”
For more information on Nomad, visit www.nomadgcs.com.