September 22, 2004 in Business

Survival business may thrive

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane company is projecting fast growth over the next two years, thanks in part to bad news around the globe.

RS Consulting, which was launched in late 2002, focuses on training people how to prevent being abducted and how to survive if taken hostage.

Company founder Randy Spivey is projecting increased demand for hostage-survival training by federal agencies and companies that have workers overseas.

His firm, which has offices on the third floor of the American Legion Building downtown, will also try to market its services to non-government agencies, such as church missions or aid providers such as the American Red Cross.

RS Consulting will use hands-on training and role-playing exercises to teach abduction survival.

Some of the company’s business will be done off-site as well, when companies require RS Consulting to come to their locations.

“We’ll offer a full range of options,” said Spivey. “From quick online self-guided programs or CDs or videos, to full three-day seminars complete with role-play and hands-on training.”

Spivey started the company after leaving a job with the chief agency that runs Fairchild Air Force Base’s Survival School.

He also was a survival training instructor for nearly 12 years, specializing in hostage survival. From 2002 until this year, Spivey worked to help develop programs at the defunct Fort Sherman Institute. That concept, funded briefly by North Idaho College, was meant to be nearly the same as RS Consulting, an anti-terrorist survival training program.

RS Consulting has hired two other companies to assist in training — Tate Inc. and KnowledgeWorks. Tate Inc., based in Germantown, Md., has a longstanding contract with the U.S. Air Force to help train soldiers and airmen in survival techniques and captivity endurance.

KnowledgeWorks, a new company started by Spivey along with two area psychologists, will provide consulting services for companies or agencies needing to assess workers on their ability to handle high-stress or hostage situations.

Roger Aldrich, the Spokane-based business development director for Tate, will focus nearly all his efforts on building the RS Consulting customer base, Aldrich said.

Like Spivey, Aldrich served in the Air Force at Fairchild, then went to work with the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. That federal agency provides the core training used at the Fairchild Air Force Base Survival School. Among his duties, Aldrich helped develop the first trainer-training course for the JPRA, he said.

While working with JPRA, the two men realized the world’s increasing level of terror and tension multiplied the need for hostage-crisis training.

“We had numerous calls from federal agencies while we were here (at Fairchild),” said Aldrich. “They wanted to get that training. All we could say is ‘Sorry, everything we do out here is for the military.’ ”

Now that they’re in the private sector, they expect the business to boom, both men said. Spivey declined to give specific figures, but said revenues in 2004 will be less than $400,000. One key driver is a 2002 federal policy, supported by a presidential directive, that requires ongoing training for military and civilian contractors working in high-risk areas, said Spivey. For practical purposes, the government regards just about anywhere — except Guam and Midway Island — as areas of risk for Americans, they said.

The demand for training will also come from companies that send workers around the globe, added Aldrich. “This is a growing industry, unfortunately,” said Aldrich.

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