MaineBiz

January 23, 2023
Need a part for your ship? Thomaston consultant can find the right fit

In 2011, Brian Perkins founded Dirigo Strategies LLC, in Thomaston, to provide consulting services to U.S. and overseas companies seeking to sell marine products and services to navies, marines and coast guards in the U.S., Canada, Scandinavia and Estonia.

“We essentially help with ship outfitting, and with design to a lesser extent. If the Coast Guard needs a new davit, we’ll find a new davit. If they need a new radar, we work with companies to identify good radars … We act as a clearinghouse.” — Brian Perkins, Dirigo Strategies
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Perkins previously had a 30-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard, serving in shipboard and shore-based positions that included command at sea, joint tours, and project officer or branch chief for a wide variety of research, tactics and strategy. Projects included the development of a 30-year capital asset management plan enabling planning for whole fleets in the Coast Guard.

person with glasses and watch and crossed arms smiling
COURTESY / DIRIGO STRATEGIES LLC
Brian Perkins.

Perkins and his team now represent makers of commercial products such as heavy weather davits for launching boats, hull stress monitoring systems, amphibious Arctic crawlers, coastal vessel traffic information management systems, military radars, oceanographic equipment and environmentally friendly biofuels.

Perkins recently returned from the annual Surface Navy Association Symposium in Washington, D.C., where he represented clients such as Light Structures, a producer of fiber optic hull stress monitoring systems; Vestdavit, a producer of heavy weather davits, small crane-like devices used to raise and lower equipment such as lifeboats over the side of a larger vessel; and DeepWater Buoyancy, a designer and manufacturer of deep ocean buoys and bottom landers that developed a patent-pending year-round Arctic navigation system.

We asked Perkins about his company’s startup and how he connects with clients. Here’s an edited transcript.

Mainebiz: Tell us Dirigo Strategies’ origin story.

Brian Perkins: I retired as chief of Cutter Forces in Washington, D.C., returned to Maine and rejoined my wife and family. I went fly-fishing for three weeks and became very bored. I got a call from a retired U.S. admiral who was working with Saab AB out of Sweden. He said, ‘Would you like to help with a radar project?’ I said, ‘Yes, I would.’

MB: What was the project?

BP: Saab AB make radars and other products supporting NATO militaries around the world. At the time, the U.S. Coast Guard had a very good radar. But it needed a replacement. So the project was to market the radar that Saab had come up with to both the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy. But I couldn’t take on the project unless I was a business. So I set up a small business working for Saab. Then I won a contract with Eastern Shipbuilding Group [in Florida]. At some point I needed help, so I hired Victoria [Mastromarino, Dirigo’s vice president] and we started hiring subcontractors. Now we’re two employees headquartered in Maine and about 16 subcontractors in Florida, Seattle, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and other places.

MB: Could you describe what the company does?

BP: We essentially help with ship outfitting, and with design to a lesser extent. If the Coast Guard needs a new davit, we’ll find a new davit. If they need a new radar, we work with companies to identify good radars. It’s a balancing act between what the client needs and what the industry can provide. We act as a clearinghouse.

MB: Could you provide an example of the matchmaking process?

BP: There was an international company that was looking to sell davits to put on U.S. Coast Guard cutters and on U.S. Navy ships. They asked us how to approach the government. We figured out things like whom they needed to meet and the timing from a budget standpoint. Government budgets run in cycles and you have to know that cycle. If you know which trade shows they frequent, you’ll want to be there.

It’s a question of showing why that davit is best for an application. That can be a challenge for international companies — understanding how the U.S. government works or the terminology that will catch someone’s ear. I spent so much time in Washington, D.C., that that’s something I can help with. And I have a team of experts in their own areas who can also help.

MB: Staying with that example – aren’t all davits the same?

BP: Davits are used to lower small boats over the side of a larger vessel — for example, to launch a search-and-rescue team to go to the aid of another ship. Unfortunately, search-and-rescue tends to happen in the worst of weather. I’ve gone over the rail many times and it’s dangerous work. The best davits have motion compensation systems. They have shock absorbers. They have winches on either end. They’re self-tailing and have constant tension. Those factors make a davit truly good. The U.S. Coast Guard has very good davits. But the davits we represent are better because they have features that others don’t have. Our davits are run in the North Sea, which is shallow and rough and the waves tend to peak close together, so the ship pitches and rolls excessively. For the U.S. Coast Guard, those are ideal conditions to match up against because, at their worst, our seas are similar.

For the U.S. Navy, this company makes davits that launch more than one vehicle and adapts to different sizes and weights. That makes them better for different applications and conditions.

I knew the inherent need of the services and then connected the right people for the sale to take place.

MB: Do you first make yourself aware of what buyers need, or of what manufacturers are selling?

BP: Both at the same time. I knew the best davits for ships before I retired. Then the company came to me. I said, ‘Why is this better?’ They showed me, and they had all the data to prove it. It took time.

The same thing with the radar contract. I was contacted by the radar company. At the same time, I knew the existing radar was in trouble. So I said, ‘Why are you the guys to replace it?’ and they showed me. I’m looking at it from both directions, trying to figure out the matches.

It’s been a lot of reading, trade shows, meetings, being active in ship design projects, and traveling around the world and around the U.S. to make sure I’m aware of what’s going on. I have a science and engineering management background and I love the challenges of seeing if there’s a better way to do things.

PRESS RELEASE 

December 6, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Victoria Mastromarino, Vice President 

Dirigo Strategies LLC, Thomaston, ME  

207-354-0799 

vmastromarino@dirigostrategies.com

Brian Perkins, President of Dirigo Strategies, LLC will again be attending the annual Surface Navy Association (SNA) Symposium in Washington, DC from January 10-12, 2023, representing clients and participating in forums and events. 

Clients we will be supporting include Light Structures, a leading global producer of fiber optic hull stress monitoring systems; Vestdavit, a producer of the most capable heavy weather davits; and DeepWater Buoyancy, a designer and manufacturer of deep ocean buoys and bottom landers that has developed a new Arctic year-round navigation system (patent pending). 

Emphasis this year will be on the tightly constrained U.S. Navy budget and how to meet growing threats, increased U.S. Coast Guard engagement in the Western Pacific, and integration of new products and services for each. Also highlighted will be increased Arctic demands and improved benefits for sailors during recruiting challenges for each service. Updates on major ship projects are expected.

SNA is an Association of Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard officers and enlisted that provides support for its members, and programs and activities that enable professional growth. The Symposium allows corporate members and sponsors to display the latest technology in support of missions, provides a forum for discussion of critical service issues, and enables public and military leaders to share their vision for the coming year. 

ABOUT DIRIGO STRATEGIES:  For the past 12 years Dirigo Strategies, LLC, has provided targeted consulting advice to U.S. and overseas medium and large-sized companies seeking to sell marine products and services to navies, marines, and coast guards in the U.S., Canada, and Scandinavia and Estonia. Current and recent commercial products represented include heavy weather davits for launching boats, hull stress monitoring systems, amphibious Arctic crawlers, coastal vessel traffic information management systems, military radars, oceanographic equipment, and environmentally friendly biofuels and by-products.   Dirigo Strategies is a member of the Maine International Trade Center (MITC), Marine and Oceanographic Technology Network (MOTN), and the Greater Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. We also work with Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC) and SCORE.

Press Release

For Immediate Release

August 12, 2021

Media Contact: Victoria Mastromarino, Executive Assistant

Dirigo Strategies LLC, Thomaston, ME

207-354-0799

vmastromarino@dirigostrategies.com

Brian Perkins of Dirigo Strategies, LLC recently attended the annual
Sea-Air-Space Expo in Washington, DC from August 2 – 4, 2021, Brian represented six of our Maine and overseas NATO clients while participating in forums and events. The Expo is always one of the largest defense conferences in the United States, and this year it was one of the first such shows offered in-person with 15,000 people in attendance, all observing social distancing and heightened hygiene practices.  

All three maritime Service Chiefs were in attendance (CNO of the U.S. Navy, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard) and all three talked publicly about budgets, priorities, and increasing national defense threats. Subsequently, Brian met with several senior leaders as well as younger officers, and then assisted clients 

to adjust their marketing strategies to connect with those key people affecting the success of their individual sales efforts. 

The Expo allows corporate members and sponsors to display their latest technology in support of missions, provides a forum for discussion of critical service issues and new developments, and facilitates interactions between government and industry. Booths for next year are already quickly selling out.  

ABOUT DIRIGO STRATEGIES: For the past ten years Dirigo Strategies, LLC, has provided targeted consulting advice to U.S. and overseas medium and large-sized companies seeking to sell marine and other products and services to navies, marines, and coast guards in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Scandinavia or to their vendors. Most of the twenty associates under contract within Dirigo Strategies are retired military officers or leaders in supporting fields. Current products represented include heavy- weather davits for launching boats, hull-stress monitoring systems, amphibious Arctic crawlers for conducting at-sea Arctic boardings, recoverable deep-sea buoyant and bottom gear, logistically integrated-vertical storage systems, and services in offshore wind support, cyber defense, and oil spill prevention and response. Dirigo Strategies engages in some work directly for the government and is a member of the Maine International Trade Center (MITC), Marine and Oceanographic Technology Network (MOTN) and the Greater Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.  

 

 

Press Release

 

For Immediate Release

December 30, 2019

Media Contact: Victoria Mastromarino, Administrative Assistant

Dirigo Strategies LLC, Thomaston, ME

207-354-0799

vmastromarino@dirigostrategies.com

Brian Perkins of Dirigo Strategies, LLC will again be attending the annual Surface Navy Association Symposium in Washington, DC from January 15-17, 2020, representing clients and participating in forums and events. The Symposium is one of the biggest defense conferences in the United States, and the largest focused on the naval services.

SNA is an Association of Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard officers and enlisted that provides support for its members, and programs and activities that enable professional growth. The Symposium allows corporate members and sponsors to display the latest technology in support of missions, provides a forum for discussion of critical service issues, and enables public and military leaders to share their vision for the coming year.

Particular emphasis this year is likely to be given to political battles and the delayed U.S. Coast Guard budget and its icebreaker during a year of record seizures and interdictions at sea. Also highlighted will be new Navy ships and equipment entering the fleet, and recent Navy collisions and procedures planned to prevent them. For the Marines arguably the biggest headline for the service was the first deployment of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter on a routine deployment and the jet’s first combat actions, but flagging retention will also be a topic.

About Dirigo Strategies:

For the past eight years Dirigo Strategies, LLC, has provided targeted consulting advice to U.S. and overseas medium and large-sized companies seeking to sell marine products and services to navies, marines, and coast guards in the U.S., Canada, and Scandinavia. Current products represented include coastal vessel traffic and information management systems, military radars, heavy weather davits for launching boats, hull stress monitoring systems, amphibious Arctic crawlers, and environmentally friendly bio fuels and by-products. Dirigo Strategies is a member of the Maine International Trade Center (MITC), Marine and Oceanographic Technology Network (MOTN) and the Greater Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. We also work with PTAC, Tech Place and SCORE.