With sale of marine lighting business, Carmanah Technologies looks to the future

John Simmons believes Friday’s completion of the sale of Carmanah Technologies’ marine lighting business paves the way for the Victoria-based company to grow in its sweet spot.

The Carmanah chief executive said the sale, which is worth $77 million US and represents the handing over of about half the company to North Carolina-based SPX Corp., allows Carmanah to focus on its remaining assets.

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“It’s really exciting. We are seeing our ability to focus on a smaller number of industries,” Simmons said.

“I don’t think we realized how complex and broad our business was. But we are now in a situation where we are really quite focused on a small number of things.”

Simmons expects that will mean significant growth for the company.

Simmons said life after the transaction will see the solar company’s focus sharpen on the traffic industry, where he sees great prospects for growth.

“There are some big themes that will shape the traffic control industry — autonomous vehicles and smart cities,” he said.

Simmons said autonomous vehicles will be intersecting with pedestrians, and data from what have been “dumb, stationary” devices will have to evolve into ones that gather and transmit information.

“That’s our sweet spot,” Simmons said.

As for the smart city concept, Simmons said Carmanah’s role will be in helping municipalities gain full control of their traffic control devices to allow them to adjust and reroute traffic flow.

“This suggests to me that growth rates will be extraordinary there,” he said. “And it’s fun to think about what we might be able to do in those spaces when you add our expertise and now resources that we have never had before.”

The sale, approved by shareholders Jan. 22, includes the entirety of Carmanah’s marine lighting business, an aviation obstruction lighting unit, an airfield lighting unit and some smaller support businesses.

It will net Carmanah about $73.5 million US, which is expected to result in the company having a cash balance of about $88.5 million US.

While Carmanah hasn’t determined how it will spend that money, Simmons said they are looking at some acquisitions that will strengthen the position in traffic control.

There may also be investment in the remaining business units and returning cash to shareholders.


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