If you’ve driven out of town over the Johnson Street Bridge in the night or headed out of Victoria harbor in the dark, you’ve probably seen the bright lights of Carmanah Technologies Inc.
Dozens of its solar-powered hazard LED lights in test mode line the rooftop of its building just over the bridge.
Not far away, flashing yellow lights on buoys outline the safe channel for small boats.
The six-year-old Victoria Company made its name in marine uses for its rugged, long-lived lights. But this year, Carmanah is going after much bigger markets in highway hazard lights and the airport market.
The company that Dave Green founded after a long sailboat trip back from Fiji -which gave him lots of time to think about how to build better marine lights-made a major change of course recently. Green is still the major owner, but soon will be moving out to a strictly research operation, while a new team with marketing experience have moved in.
New president of the company is Art Aylesworth, a businessman familiar to Victoria from his involvement in Sharp’s Audiovisual and Island Displays.
He’s brought along a new team of people, just about doubling the staff at Carmanah Technologies Inc.
Chuck Francis, who headed Island Displays, now is vice president of operations at Carmanah.
“He’s a good detail person,” says Aylesworth.
Gary Schwann has moved over after a long career with Monk Office Supply to be distribution manager.
Lorraine Kuzyk, an engineer with experience at power measurement Ltd., a big and successful Victoria technology company, has come aboard to handle quality assurance and purchasing.
Also new to Carmanah is Marc Hoelscher, who had his own local Web design and Marketing business called Fifth Gear Marketing Systems. He’s now manager of internet marketing for Carmanah.
“It’s up by 50 percent in staff”, says Aylesworth, who adds that Carmanah had 13 people when he joined in the summer. Sales are up 100 per cent in the last two years, now over $3 million annually.
“We’re in the black, we’re making money.” He says.
Where Carmanah had to struggle to get people to try its lights, now there are 10,000 installed, from a marina in Ixtapa Mexico, to a New Zealand aquaculture operation, the largest mussel farm in the southern hemisphere, and aquaculture operations in Norway. B.C. Ferry Corp. tested them at Mill Bay and Swartz Bay to mark ferry berths and is adding them at other terminals.
The lights are rugged-they’ll function in-40 and plus 50 degrees Celsius-and longed-lived.
The Canadian Coast Guard has pulled them out of the water after extended immersions, and once the solar panel charges up again they still flash.
Carmanah says that an LED will light up for 100,000 hours or 27 years, assuming its on for 10 hours a day.
In fact, the rechargeable batteries will wear out sooner than the light emitting -diodes
The company guarantees them for three years and recommends replacement after five years.
As a “Green” business making a good product, the company is getting lots of attention.
“We’re being courted by a lot of people who want to bring a lot of money into the company.”
As the new president, Aylesworth wants Carmanah to be ready first before it decides on hooking up with possible partners or going public on the stock markets.
“A lot of it has been internal, getting the infrastructure ready for growth.”
Carmanah lights may end up in Egypt as well.
The company is bidding to supply 2,000 beacons for the Nile River, to light the navigable river channel, one every kilometer all the way to the Mediterranean.
The Suez Canal is another possible contact.
Carmanah Technologies Inc.