BASE Engineering is a market leader in radio remote control technology having now deployed more than 75,000 systems worldwide. With clients located in nearly every corner of the globe, BASE chose the most strategic location they could to build its world-class facilities; Saint John, New Brunswick.

In addition to being a market leader, the company was recently recognized for its health and safety leadership by WorkSafeNB for its commitment to the well-being of its employees.

Opportunities NB (ONB) wanted to learn more about so we sat down with Steve Belyea, President and CEO.

ONB: BASE Engineering focuses on the petroleum industry, specifically developing radio remote control technology. Can you go into that technology a bit more?

New Brunswick engineering innovationBelyea: Nearly 20 years ago we saw an opportunity to apply electronic technology in areas of the petroleum industry that were previously very manual or mechanical. We developed safety controls that would allow faster response to hazardous emergencies and allow the operators to respond to leaks and fires from a safe distance by remote controlling the petroleum tank and pipe valves and pumps. This initial product has grown into an entire catalog of remote control solutions for the gas and oil industry that now includes tanker trucks, fuel storage facilities, offshore and land-based oil rigs, aircraft refueling, and ship refueling. We’ve also installed a system at Virgin Galactics new Space Port America in New Mexico.

ONB: Your team won the Exporter of the Year Award as part of the 2014 New Brunswick Export Awards. Tell us what that meant to you and your business.

Belyea: It was great to be recognized for our export work. We decided on day one to ignore any and all borders where possible, and promote our technology around the world. Our efforts in the United States have paid huge dividends and we are the market leader in our space now. I think the New Brunswick Export Award was reinforcement for our staff that we are doing a world-class job — I am very proud of them.

ONB: What countries are you currently exporting to?

Belyea: Primarily the United States but we also have excellent distribution in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Turkey, Poland, Spain, Czech Republic, Israel, Chile, Brazil, Panama, Mexico, and several other countries. We’re primarily focused on the US mainly due to its proximity, market size, and cultural similarities.

ONB: Your company could be located almost anywhere. Why did you choose New Brunswick? What is it about the province that has helped your company become a success?

Belyea: We were born and raised here. My family has been here for 250 years — this is home. Our way of life outweighs the travel and winter challenges. Also, I think our people are genuine and have a great work ethic. I truly believe that we have the best people we could find anywhere on the planet.

ONB: Do you partner with any other New Brunswick companies to deliver your products?

Belyea: In terms of the supply chain, yes. We partner with as many local and regional companies as possible to secure our inventory and service needs. These relationships go back to our beginnings when we were high risk, and we haven’t forgotten the value these relationships continue to add to our business.

ONB: Would you agree there is a solid cluster of companies supporting the oil and gas industry in New Brunswick?

Belyea: I think that cluster is developing well right now, absolutely. Traditionally, there have been few players in this space within the province but with recent natural gas and exploration initiatives we are seeing increased momentum and opportunity.

ONB: Let’s talk about challenges. What have been some of the biggest ones BASE has faced in terms of achieving its export goals?

Belyea: See that’s the thing, we don’t set export goals – we just sell to everyone who wants to buy regardless of where they are. We market globally in key trade journals and at trade shows. For us, doing business in Spain is the same as doing business in Saint John – it just costs more in terms of energy and money to secure the deal, so we price accordingly.

That said, in terms of mitigating challenges, one needs to be aware of the various regulatory compliance issues for their product and how these change from place to place. Learn the rules, submit for the appropriate testing, and price accordingly. If you have something that others want and can’t easily get then it’s a done deal.

ONB: Finally, what’s your best piece of advice for other businesses in the region looking to achieve their own export success story?

Belyea: Ignore borders – they’re just lines on a map. The couriers know how to get it there.

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