About Zodiac Hurricane Technologies
Zodiac Hurricane Technologies makes rigid-hull inflatable boats for professional and military use under its French parent corporation, Zodiac Milpro.
ZHT, itself, is able to evade the enemy or competition because its parent company, Paris-based Zodiac Milpro, has dominated the industry for more than a century. The company was founded in 1896, originally specializing in hot-air balloons and airships or blimps. In 1934, Zodiac Milpro engineer Pierre Debroutelle invented the two-seat inflatable kayak. Three years later, the French Naval Air Service asked Debroutelle to create a boat that could transport torpedoes and bombs, and, later, lifeboats. The rest, as they say, is history.
Zodiac Milpro experienced success and began establishing subsidiaries around the world, starting with Europe. Its U.S. subsidiary, Zodiac Milpro of North America, was established in 1970 in Annapolis, Md. In 1983, the corporation set sail for Canada and founded Zodiac Inflatable Technologies near Toronto.
Meanwhile, a Canadian company called C.W. Lucas, which Hammond founded, recognized the potential of the RIB while visiting England and Wales in 1978, and began making its own version. In 1984, C.W. Lucas became Hurricane Rescue Craft Inc. Also in the mid-1980s, the world’s largest RIB was designed to carry a crew of four and 96 survivors. It’s still used today by the Canadian Coast Guard.
In 1987, Zodiac Milpro acquired Hurricane Rescue Craft and merged the company with its Canadian subsidiary, Zodiac Inflatable Technologies, as well as a dealer outlet, Zodiac Marine of Victoria, British Columbia. Hammond says Hurricane Rescue Craft wanted to expand “because it knew it had to try to sell these boats around the world.”
“Of course, Zodiac Milpro had dealers and service stations already set up around the world,” he continues. “So, it benefited the two small companies that didn’t have the capital to expand around the world.”