New mission for SAS veteran

The memories of nearly two dozen mates lost in battle constantly inspire former Special Air Service Regiment sniper Scott Houston in his military-style Perth business, which trades in millions of dollars a year.

While the hipster look of beards, long hair and untucked shirts is dominating Perth streets at night, Mr Houston is forging ahead with a retro company modelled on his SAS background.

And with his crisis and emergency management services in the crosshairs of some of the State's biggest companies, he is also giving back to the families struck by sudden losses of their SAS loved ones and former servicemen looking to forge new careers.

Executive Risk Solutions recently donated $25,000 to the SAS Resources Trust, which helps children whose fathers were killed or disabled while on defence duty, and almost half of his business' staff of 90 have defence and emergency services experience.

Mr Houston started ERS with a $250,000 contract in 2010, when he was the sole employee.

In March, he secured a $30 million, two-year deal with Roy Hill Holdings and expects to turn over more than $20 million this year.

The 44-year-old father of four became a third-generation serviceman when he joined the army aged 18, following his air force father Terry and late grandfather Ray, who served in World War II infantry on the Kokoda Trail. But his decade spent in the SAS until 2003 is never far from his mind, especially the perspective driven into his life by the sudden loss of mates, including the 15 who perished in the 1996 Black Hawk disaster in Queensland.

"I look at the mates I've lost and it's about 23, some of them close mates," Mr Houston said.

"It puts life in a whole new perspective and makes you realise what's important in your world."

Mr Houston said he craved a career in the SAS immediately after watching the Iranian Embassy siege in London live on television in 1980. Once in the regiment, its diversity had him hooked.

He was part of the team that was moved out of Afghanistan from East Timor as tensions rose in the fallout from the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers in New York.

It led to the most intense and uncertain two months of his life, working along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. After the tour of duty, where he was unable to speak to his Perth-based wife Fiona and then nine-year-old son Ben for the two months, Mr Houston asked to be discharged.

He said the strict separation had given him a telling perspective of the hardship families of SAS members endured.

"The wives and families of the SAS are the true heroes," he said. "The wives come home to an empty house at five o'clock, put the kids to bed and they always think of where their husbands might be.

"That's far harder in a lot of ways, the not knowing and not having that constant contact."

Mr Houston set up ERS after shattering his pelvis in a 2006 superbike race at Barbagallo Raceway. He wanted to set up the venture as a "one-stop shop" for emergency services, where strict fitness tests were conducted before employment.

The West Australian

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