INDUSTRY INTERVIEW: Complete Parachute Solutions

Fred Williams
Vice President
Complete Parachute Solutions

Fred Williams served with the Navy SEALs for ten years as an air operations specialist. In the private sector, he worked seven years developing tactical parachute systems and was a direct liaison with spec ops groups from all branches of the armed forces. In 2001, he was tasked with reorganizing the company’s approach to the military and the result was the creation of CPS as we know it today. He is one of the foremost experts in the field of tactical HAHO parachuting operations.

Q: Could you give SOTECH an overview of CPS?

A: CPS is a consortium created by three Florida-based parachute equipment manufacturers. Performance Designs and United Parachute Technologies of DeLand, and Sun Path Products of Zephyrhills. CPS is focused on providing superior solutions to meet the parachute needs of today’s advanced military and government organizations. CPS is a parachute system integrator, insuring that military clients will receive a complete system capable of performing at or beyond currently accepted performance levels. All of the CPS companies are ISO-9001:2000 certified and manufacture under FAA-TSO certifications and strict government quality standards.

We are one of the few companies that offer specialized military training covering advanced high-altitude parachuting techniques. The company has two tactical training facilities; one in DeLand, Fla., at our home office, and our primary training facility in Coolidge, Ariz.

Q: What are the primary products and services that you offer?

A: State-of-the-art, high-performance solo and tandem tactical ram-air parachute solutions— which also includes military tandem tethered bundle systems; navigational and personal oxygen systems; helmets, comm. systems and altimeters; K9 parachute insertion equipment and other related parachuting components such as thermal jumpsuits, boots, gloves and goggles. Excellent customer service is a crucial component within our organization. Our training programs insure that each operator thoroughly understands, and is completely capable of safely using our equipment.

Q: What differentiates you in the marketplace from others?

A: The most important innovations today involving safety and functionality were originally designed and patented by our partner companies. Our military tandem system, the SOV3-TS and its forerunner, the SOVTV, are the only tandem systems approved for use by U.S. Special Forces. Within the last five years, the DRS—Drogue Disc Release and the SkyHook RSL systems have once again shown that CPS is head and shoulders ahead of other parachute system manufacturers with regard to new designs that deliver incredible performance and safety for the individual combat operator.

Q: What is your position in the market sector?

A: Compared to our market position five years ago, CPS has taken major steps towards being a formidable player in the airborne parachuting sector. Special mission units within all branches of the U.S. military are using our gear at this time.

Q: How long have you been doing business with the military?

A: Our partner companies established themselves with spec ops groups during the 1980s and with the Military Freefall School in the 1990s. Our tactical tandem systems and instructor systems helped to secure a foothold at that time. During the conceptual phases of creating CPS, we realized that if we wanted to make a concentrated effort to support our military clients properly, we would have to expand our marketing, sales, training and customer support divisions. CPS was formed in 2002, so we are fairly new, but our partner companies have been servicing the military since 1985.

Q: Any successes or goals that you can tell us about?

A: Some of our most notable successes are the ones that we can’t speak about. We recently secured a $20+ million contract with the Marine Corp involving our SOV3- Multi Mission Systems, which includes a comprehensive training package.

The military procurement and approval process time consuming. Three to five years is not unusual for a conceptual idea to reach the field. Our goals this year are to lay the foundation and plant the seeds for business in 2007 and 2008.

Q: How are you positioned for the future?

A: The U.S. Army is looking closely at CPS products. They will evaluate new systems during 2007. We are confident that our systems will make a strong showing. Our edge, once again, is the safety and operability of our systems. It’s indicative of how the Army is concerned for each of its soldiers. We believe this is a commendable attitude and are ready to support them by providing the most advanced gear and training available for HAHO/HALO parachute operations for altitudes up to 35,000 feet!

As our success continues to grow in the U S. military, so will our foreign sales. It’s easier for smaller foreign military units to retool and move forward with new product offerings and capabilities. CPS has strong relationships with a number of foreign clients, some of whom allow us to maintain a strong R&D program that will ensure our continued success in the future! ♦