By Glenda McCarthy
When it comes to exploring the deep blue sea, there’s a company in Clarenville that’s raising the bar in its field. SubC Imaging is dedicated to becoming a leading provider of revolutionary and reliable solutions for video, image and lighting requirements in the offshore and subsea markets.
Helmed by CEO Chad Collett, and Vice-President Adam Rowe, the success and growth of SubC Imaging can be directly attributed to the quality and passion of its employees and their constant commitment, fuelled by a genuine interest in new technology and the rewards of deep sea exploration.
In a roundabout way, that interest, and the company, couldn’t have been possible without CNA. Both Adam and Chad grew up in Chance Cove, a small town of approximately 250 people located about an hour west of St. John’s. While Chad had a good idea of what he wanted to do when he finished high school, for Adam he was torn in two completely different directions.
“I had graduated high school and was at a bit of a crossroads with what I actually wanted to do with my life,” Adam says. “I was very much into music and computers. I took a few years off and worked a couple of odd jobs to find out what I didn’t want to do.”
Rock star or computer geek? Adam admits it was a polarized choice. But fate intervened when Chad and Adam ran into each other in Chance Cove one Christmas.
“Chad had graduated from what was then known as the Electronics Engineering Technology program and he was telling me how he had just got a new job, as well as a little bit about the program he had finished. It sounded really cool and the next day I decided I would call CNA and sign up.”
The program, which was later renamed Software Engineering Technology, was still the same program but with an increased focus on software.
“I loved the last two years. The first year was a general year which I didn’t like so much. I never did chemistry or physics in high school so I struggled with that. I also hadn’t overcome my slacker attitude by this point,” Adam recalls. “But after that first general year, with more focus on coding, I really enjoyed it. The program had a good split between programming and electronics. In one of the hardware classes we made a robot that followed a piece of electrical tape on the floor, and for my tech-thesis, my friend Jamie Hibbs (who has been working with us at SubC since 2011) and I, made an online school registration and scheduling system.”
In 2010, Adam was in his second last semester of college and Chad was working on the prototype for SubC’s first product, while at the same time working with remotely operated vehicles full-time offshore.
“To date, all of my experience happens to have something to do with the subsea environment, one way or another,” Chad says. “The reason could be location – born a Newfoundlander and always to be one. I started out diving with the Canadian Navy, then worked at NRC-Institute for Ocean Technology (Canada’s national centre for ocean technology research and development), Oceaneering (an advanced applied technology company) and Welaptega Marine (a subsea engineering support firm specialising in marine imaging for offshore petroleum).”
“Chad had hands on experience in the industry and knew what kind of equipment was out there,” Adam adds. “He felt he could do it better so he started tinkering around in his basement while he was working. He had an idea of creating a better camera.”
Adam graduated in 2010 and moved to Clarenville soon after. After a couple of up and down years, and a lot of hard work and determination, the company really picked up.
“Chad knew what my strengths were on the software side and that I was into hacking apart electronics,” Adam says. “We decided early on we wanted to be a one-stop-shop for everything underwater imaging related. We wanted to provide our clients with full solutions including cameras, video recording and overlaying software, lights, lasers, batteries, everything! In retrospect it seems like a pretty ambitious goal for two people in Chad’s basement.”
But just five years later, they are in their own 5,000 square foot building with 12 full-time employees and over 400 products being utilized around the world.
“Our goal at SubC Imaging is to raise the bar for underwater imaging systems, providing a new standard for quality, features and reliability,” Chad says. “We are developing new technology constantly and have a couple of patents that just went through as well. We just hired another employee to take on a sales and engineering role. For us it’s about more technology, more sales and market coverage. Basically we’re trying to take over the market.”
SubC Imaging is making waves in the industry and has been recognized for its work. The company graduated from Memorial University’s Genesis Centre in December 2014. The Centre is a support network developed to help Newfoundland and Labrador knowledge-based businesses/entrepreneurs create high-growth enterprises. During their graduation ceremony, SubC Imaging was presented with the David McNamara Incubator Client Graduate of the Year Award from the Canadian Association of Business Incubation. The association recognizes the most successful graduate company from an incubator or business accelerator program in the country.
Earlier this year they also received the prestigious Outstanding Incubator Graduate Award from the U.S. based National Business Incubation Association. The international business award honours the top business incubators, client companies and graduates that exemplify the best in the industry. Out of six possible categories, SubC Imaging was the only Canadian company to receive an award and they were recognized for revenue strength and product innovation.
While the accolades are nice, for Chad and Adam it all comes back to turning ideas into reality.
“The best part for me is that I’m in control of my own future, while doing something I love,” Adam says. “I set my own deadlines and determine what needs to be done and when, which really works for my lifestyle. When I go home at night if I’m not working on things related to the business, I’m working on my home automation project or a game. When you love doing something this much, it’s hard to call it work.”