Christopher Durkin went from Military Helicopter Pilot to Business Owner with SBA Resources

Retired veteran takes “special operations” approach to real world experience

BUFFALO, NY – For Christopher Durkin it was 23 years of experience in the U.S. military that enabled him to open Blackhawk Emergency Management Group LLC. As a former special operations Black Hawk helicopter pilot, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army, Durkin recognized the need for emergency management and disaster preparedness assistance. Upon retiring, he developed a “special operations” approach to developing, implementing and managing comprehensive programs and services to assist organizations with any type of disaster or emergency.

“When you are out in the real world, you realize there are opportunities to improve and greatly enhance safety, security and emergency management; helping others from your own knowledge base,” says Durkin.

When Durkin, a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM®), ran into start-up issues, he sought guidance from SBA resource partner, Greater Rochester SCORE mentor Don Pophal.  Pophal helped Durkin evaluate every aspect of his business from hiring subcontractors to management and marketing. Durkin advises other prospective small business owners to “make sure you set up the correct structure for your company by meeting with SCORE; they are very receptive and helpful.”

Durkin also met with SBA resource partner, the Small Business Development Center at the College at Brockport. Durkin sought out SBDC Brockport, he says, “I was at the point where I needed more growth, needed to move forward.” He met with SBDC business advisor Drake Thomas and continued to meet numerous times. “Drake helped me during all aspects of business planning. His advice and input were invaluable.”

Durkin has successful grown his emergency management business and today provides safety, security and emergency management products and services to corporations and small business, not-for-profits, houses of worship, public health and health care organizations, educational institutions (higher education and K-12) and government agencies. He also helps families with personal preparedness.

Based in Rochester, New York, Blackhawk Emergency Management, LLC specializes in disaster prevention, plan development, training, business continuity, workplace violence and overall emergency management. Following the proven “special operations” approach, Durkin’s subject matter experts and integrated product team supports and guides each and every client through all phases of emergency management (prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery).

Durkin advises others thinking of starting a small business: “Be ready for long, hard hours, learn from others and make sure you have a plan.” “SBA has an umbrella of resources – use them!”

The SBA provides small business counseling and training through a variety of programs and resource partners. For more information, please contact your local SBA Buffalo district office at (716) 551-4301 or visit us online at


Company Name: 
Blackhawk Emergency Management Group
Rochester, NY