Rod Hall learned about the importance of keeping a well stocked emergency kit nearby with medical, food and water supplies when he sailed around the world with his wife. They needed to learn what to do if they were stranded at sea in a life raft.
The pair got to dry land safely, and now live on Wellington's Kapiti Coast. Hall started Survive-It in 2005 to produce emergency kits and create survival plans for people.
The company now employs four fulltime staff and a few extra part-timers, several of whom travel the country assessing and training workplaces on how to get through an emergency.
"When I arrived here I had a look at all the civil defence advertising that was happening on television and radio, what products were available to fill the needs for preparedness. There didn't seem to be an awful lot back then," Hall said.
"I decided to set up a civil defence and emergency equipment business, originally selling backpack kits and equipment for the home market. After doing that for around two years I realised that supplying to businesses, large corporates and government departments was an area that really needed to be covered off properly."
Survive-It, catering for businesses with between one and several hundred employees, performs free workplace assessments before people buy its office kits.
Kits include items such as water purification tablets, whistles, dust masks, ropes, hand sanitiser, ponchos, safety glasses and escape tools such as hacksaws. The company works from Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management guidelines.
Survive-It provides full life cycle support for the kits, refreshing the water supplies and updating exit plans where necessary.
Hall believes every floor of an office building should have an emergency kit with enough food and water for each person working there to last three days. Workplaces tended to have first aid kits but little else.
"We see a big range. Some people are not prepared at all and some companies are very well prepared. We can go in to a workplace with absolutely nothing or another so well prepared it even has its own rescue teams trained."
Hall said the business invested a lot of time into helping its clients understand what they needed to do in an emergency.
Awareness of the need to prepare had increased nationwide following the Christchurch earthquakes and Gisborne had a historically high awareness of tsunami preparedness.
"Wellingtonians have always been pretty aware of the risks. Aucklanders used to not be so concerned, but now are getting more aware of what they need to do, with it highlighted in the press about tsunami and volcano risk."
The business grew with word of mouth and internet advertising through Google. It recently featured in the Deloitte Fast 50 as a high growth company.
Hall, a Coastguard search and rescue master in his spare time, said the biggest challenge was always staying "ahead of the game", making sure items in the kits were regularly tested by third parties.
"One of things we say is, if you buy one of our survival kits, we expect it to work in an emergency. We have very high standards in those regards."
- © Fairfax NZ News