Traders News Source Senior Editor, Mark Roberts Interviews Wayne Tupuola, CEO Laser Photonics Corporation (NASDAQ: LASE)
Wayne Tupuola Current CEO, COO, and President of Laser Photonics LLC. He previously worked at Fonon Corporation as a Director and Vice President of Operations. Wayne Tupuola attended the University of Phoenix.
Laser Photonics is a vertically-integrated manufacturer and R&D Center of Excellence for industrial laser technologies and systems. LPC seeks to disrupt the $46 billion, centuries old, sand and abrasives blasting markets, focusing on surface cleaning, rust removal, corrosion control, de-painting and other laser-based industrial applications. LPC’s new generation of leading-edge laser blasting technologies and equipment also addresses the numerous health, safety, environmental, and regulatory issues associated with the old methods.
Thank you for giving us your time to answer our questions and congratulations on the company’s new NASDAQ listing.
Could you give us a brief overview of your company, its segments, and its revenue streams?
We are a branded, industrial laser company focused on disrupting the sand- and media-blasting markets with Class 4 laser-based cleaning systems. The brand has a large, established footprint in the market for laser marking, engraving, and CNC machines, but the timing is now right for a wide-open market opportunity in material processing that may exceed $100 billion in size, and growing … think of the automotive, aerospace, military, marine, shipbuilding, power generation, space, and nuclear decommissioning industries, to name a few. Note that we are the only U.S. based manufacturer amongst a handful of companies that comprise less than 1% of the potential market opportunity, globally. Of course, media- and sand-blasting operations are inherently hazardous, and environmentally expensive, and it is our mission to replace these archaic processes with CleanTech solutions at a fraction of the cost of the incumbent technologies. Indeed, we are proud that our market proposition supports prevailing ESG narratives, and we approach the government, military, and private sector end markets similarly. Our revenue streams include new product sales and service, with additional streams forthcoming in the way of a service partner network that will contribute payments for lead generation and referral fees.
What is your perspective on the laser products market you are in now and through 2023?
The market is both massive and entirely unapproached, as of yet. The small, nimble company that we are, we see this market space as does a kid see a candy store … and we will continue to address entire new opportunity sets over time, insofar as we control a platform technology that can be harnessed in myriad ways. We are concurrently building out a Service Partner Network as we grow our OEM Laser Cleaning product sales; in addition, we have the know-how to address certain requirements in the semiconductor manufacturing space, which is set to swell in the U.S. on the heels of the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act.
What factor(s) in laser technology differentiates LASE from its competitors?
Raw laser technology is more or less a commodity, albeit there are cost, specification, and performance differences from one to another. We utilize fiber lasers manufactured in China to high specifications, whereas our known competitors are known to use either crystal lasers – which have lower duty cycles and longevity – or lasers manufactured in Germany or the U.S. … which are much more expensive and not necessarily as good. Having said that, the added value in our own CleanTech machines is a function of engineering, design, and build quality differences. A large part of the design value is in the smart integration of software, cooling, electronic, and other optical components to achieve optimal performance outcomes under specific use conditions in potentially harsh environments
Can you talk about the current market for 3D metal printing and market growth prospects?
We view the current market as unstable for flatbed metal technology. We do have considerable leading-edge bulk-to-shape expertise, but conventional scan head manipulation is unsuitable for the purpose. This is currently in our R&D lab.
LASE recently got a naval order for laser cleaning equipment. Is laser cleaning going to be the big revenue stream for LASE in the near to mid-term?
Yes. With the exception of the possible sale of a few legacy products in our inventory, we expect laser cleaning to comprise 100% of our business in the near- to mid-term.
ICT Investments LLC owns 59% of the company’s shares. Is that a passive investment or are they involved in management?
ICT has been a highly entrepreneurial steward of this technology, going back well more than a decade. ICT formed Laser Photonics from its own assets – both tangible and intangible – and has been very active in the management of the business, both operationally and strategically.
LASE has been reporting gross margins in the 60-70% range. Can your company sustain that level of gross margin as revenues ramp up?
Various expenses on the P&L have been reclassified from one caption to another, in line with GAAP conventions for a manufacturer. Subsequent to this change, our gross margins are now in the vicinity of 60%, as compared to 50% in 2021. We expect gross margins to deflate back into the mid-50% range in the near term, but then to regain 60% as scale begins to enter the business vis-à-vis more and larger orders.
What near term catalyst at LASE could be the biggest benefit to shareholders?
The right catalysts are already in place, exogenously. Execution then becomes the key, internally … the right hires and the right conversations.
Thank you Wayne,
The Traders News Team
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