The business consultants said there was no market for the product, yet today FTS sells environmental monitoring solutions worldwide, counts millions in sales, employs over 75 people and is celebrating 40 years of reliability and innovation!
It was the late 1970s when Bill Cave first imagined automating the collection of weather data by marrying radio telemetry to remote electronic monitoring stations. As a researcher with the Canadian Forest Service, he knew the systems were needed. Certain in his vision, in 1980 he began developing his first prototypes in the basement of his home in Victoria.
By 1984, FTS had sold over 200 weather stations across Canada, and by 1990 stations had been installed in over 900 locations across Canada and the United States. In 1997, Kevin Bradley and Brian Bolton purchased FTS from Bill Cave. However, in 2018 Bradley and Bolton made the decision to sell FTS to Advanced Environmental Monitoring (“AEM”), recognizing that FTS would need a significant infusion of capital if it was going to make the leap into the next level of global product and market development. Since that time, FTS has grown steadily in sales, reach, and reputation in the environmental monitoring industry. This year the company has around 5,000 FTS stations transmitting globally.
David Reid, FTS CEO has seen a large amount of growth not only in FTS long-standing fire weather industry but has helped the company expand into Hydrology, Air Quality and Utilities markets. “Although I have missed working with Brian and Kevin, having the AEM network behind FTS has allowed us to take further steps to solidify our company as a large player in new industries. Our partnerships with our sister companies allow us to provide an entire spectrum of products to our customers.”
“AEM is a collective of innovative environmental monitoring companies that work together to provide the best solutions to our customers,” says Rodney Smith, CEO of AEM. “We purchased FTS for its competitive strength in both fire weather and hydrology solutions. In addition to their products and services, their history of innovation and customer-dedicated culture of the employees has also been a great fit with our existing family of companies, and we are excited to have FTS as part of our group.”
Those working with the company today express pride in being part of FTS culture and reputation. “It’s interesting to be involved in a company where every year things are getting bigger and better,” says FTS Chief Technology Officer Phil Bartlett, who has been with the company since 1994. “We’ve created a formula that works, and we’ve continued to grow organically more than anything. Some companies bloom very early and then fade out of existence pretty quickly—they’ve got a sharp ramp-up and a sharp ramp down—but we’ve been slow and steady for the whole life of the company.”
What does Bill Cave say more than 40 years since he began building his first weather stations in his basement? “Let me say that I still feel satisfaction that I was able to build a company that provides good-paying employment for a number of people along with job satisfaction and comfortable corporate culture. It’s also a bonus that these jobs result in the protection of forests and clean water.”
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