Sea to Summit Prime Supply Contract to Defence

Securing new revenue sources through an against the odds win

Sea to Summit is one of Australia’s largest designers and distributors of outdoor and adventure equipment. Established in Perth 27 years ago, Sea to Summit supplies a wide range of its own designed and manufactured products to Australian and overseas retail markets, plus a range of related strategic market research, acquisition, planning and fleet support services.

Sea to Summit is also the exclusive Australian distributor for selected complementary adventure and outdoor equipment lines manufactured by offshore partners.

Breaking into a new industry

Sea to Summit had identified the domestic and international Defence sector as a high potential new market. Inroads were being made in Australia and enquiries from international Defence agencies were emerging, but Sea to Summit was not yet a recognised Defence supplier. It needed to secure a major Defence supply contract to anchor its credentials in this market and build a base from which growth could be underpinned.

The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) LAND 125 Phase 4 Field Equipment Project presented this opportunity. The ADF needed a single prime supplier for a range of field equipment. This strongly aligned with Sea to Summit’s capability and product portfolio.

Lack of complex tendering capability

Sea to Summit clearly had the capability to deliver on the requirements of the LAND 125 Phase 4 Field Equipment Project.  However it had never responded to a complex request for tender before, let alone been exposed to the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting (ASDEFCON) suite of tendering and contracting templates applicable to this project.

In addition, Sea to Summit was competing against seasoned Defence contractors well-versed in ASDEFCON tendering and with strong links to ADF and Australian Defence industry more generally.

Sea to Summit knew that if it was going to be successful in communicating its experience and capability through the tender process, it needed specialist assistance. This assistance needed to be tangible and practical with respect to the opportunity at hand, rather than generic business development and marketing advice.

“Unlike other businesses, Sea to Summit does not respond to tenders on a regular basis — particularly not tenders of the size and complexity presented by Land 125.  We recognised early the need to engage an external partner with specialist knowledge if we wanted our response to be competitive.” 

– Dale Tyson, Sea to Summit, Program Manager – Defence

Securing BidWrite’s end-to-end bid support service

BidWrite was recommended to Sea to Summit by one of BidWrite’s previous Defence clients before the LAND 125 Phase 4 Field Equipment RFT was issued to the market, but well after Sea to Summit’s Defence market aspirations were clear.

The timing was perfect. It allowed Sea to Summit to better understand and prepare for Defence tendering requirements and expectations well in advance. It also optimised Sea to Summit’s opportunity capture and positioning efforts upstream of the detailed tender response.

“BidWrite’s consultants got to know Sea to Summit and the way we do business well ahead of the release of the Land 125 RFT. They were instrumental in our understanding of our strengths and how to best articulate these in relation to the tender response.  

– Dale Tyson, Sea to Summit, Program Manager – Defence

This end-to-end engagement was in effect, both advisory and hands on. Across the 12-month engagement period, BidWrite’s end-to-end services included:

  1. Facilitating capture strategy development many months prior to tender release
  2. Supporting Sea to Summit’s excellent capture planning and positioning in the lead up to the bid, including developing proof collateral in anticipation of tender requirements
  3. Refining the bid strategy on release of RFT documents
  4. Advising on and supporting development of Sea to Summit’s Australian Industry Capability Plan
  5. Implementing bid management processes to mobilise and coordinate the bid team
  6. Working with Sea to Summit subject matter experts to persuasively articulate technical tender response information
  7. Developing visual design concepts in conjunction with Sea to Summit’s in-house graphic design team.
  8. Conducting structured bid reviews
  9. Undertaking post-bid analysis to identify opportunities for future process improvements
  10. Providing strategic advice and negotiating post-submission assistance.

Importantly, BidWrite’s experience with buyer and seller sides of tendering provided Sea to Summit with a greater understanding of Defence’s motivating factors; offering insights and perspectives to maximise the favourable consideration of its offer.

“BidWrite helped us prepare for, and guided us through the tender process ensuring the delivery of a high-quality submission.”

– Dale Tyson, Sea to Summit, Program Manager – Defence

A critical contract secured

With BidWrite’s assistance, Sea to Summit submitted a compelling tender that unambiguously demonstrated its capabilities and, in conjunction with excellent post-bid responsiveness, ultimately persuaded the Commonwealth that it was the best value prime supplier.

Under a Standing Offer Deed signed in December 2019, Sea to Summit secured a contract to provide field equipment including shelters, sleeping bags, non-lethal force, adventure training, hand tools, and PPE to support ADF personnel both in Australia and overseas.

Securing this important contract with the ADF has raised Sea to Summit’s profile in the Defence market and opened doors to other clients within the Defence industry. In addition, it has created new opportunities for supply, as well as prompting the development of defence-specific brands within its existing product range.

“Securing this contract has raised our profile in the defence market and opened doors to other clients within defence both in Australia and internationally.  We would engage BidWrite’s services again without hesitation and highly recommend them to others engaging in tender responses.”

– Dale Tyson, Sea to Summit, Program Manager – Defence

“Working with Sea to Summit was great. Its technical expertise and sales orientation was clear. But more importantly it knew what it didn’t know (Defence tendering) and was very receptive to this specialist advice and assistance provided by BidWrite. This led to quick decisions, efficient productive working relationships and, of most importance, a fantastic business transformational outcome for Terry and his team. We rate this LAND125 Phase 4 engagement with amongst the most satisfying we have experienced in our 12 years of providing tendering and proposal management services”. 

– David Lunn, Principal, BidWrite