Carmanah CEO Hiring Completes Executive Overhaul

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Carmanah Technologies Corp. has appointed a new chief executive officer, completing an overhaul of the executive suite that raises the prospect of a more focused strategy at the struggling solar company.

"The company has 10 vertical markets, so there is probably some focus that is required," new CEO Ted Lattimore, 55, said yesterday. "And there's probably a rigour that needs to be applied in how the process and how the methods are used in the company."

Mr. Lattimore's appointment, announced yesterday, follows the recent hiring of new chief financial and chief operating officers at the Victoria-based company.

Launched in 1996, Carmanah is known for innovative solar lighting products and a blazing growth rate that has seen annual sales climb by an average 80 per cent.

Recently, however, the company has been struggling with a rising Canadian dollar, costs associated with clearing out obsolete inventory, and the transition to a new management team. It issued a profit warning in July and posted a loss in the second quarter.

Mr. Lattimore, a former telecommunications industry executive who, most recently, spent six years in Romania in the mobile phone sector, said he wouldn't be making any immediate changes at Carmanah, as he needs to learn more about the company.

Over time, he expects to implement changes aimed at improving the company's financial performance.

"More than anything, what we seem to be suffering from is a performance issue - and that's what I will be focusing on," Mr. Lattimore said.

Carmanah made a name for itself with products that include solar-powered LED lights.

With the acquisition of Soltek Resources Ltd. in 2005, Carmanah also moved into solar power systems, including 'grid-tied' installations such as the $1-million system at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

In that deal, Carmanah got a company roughly equal to it in size, Mr. Lattimore says - a big bite that he feels likely proved difficult to chew.

"My suspicion is that there were cultural issues in order to bring those companies together that may not have been worked through," he said, adding that expectations of economies of scale and scope may not have been met.

There are good growth prospects in the solar industry and an experienced management team should help Carmanah take advantage of them, said analyst Sara Elford of Canaccord Capital Inc.

"Many emerging companies, not just Carmanah, go through a progression where, as the company matures, the management skill set that is required also evolves," Ms. Elford said. "And, most often, those that drive the progression in the early years are not those that are going to take you to the next stage."

Former CEO Art Aylesworth, in that role since 2000, announced this past June that, as part of a succession plan, he would become chairman as soon as a new CEO was hired.

Carmanah Tech. (CMH)

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