BluGlass (ASX:BLG) expanding in California

BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG) Executive Chair James Walker provides an update on the company, discussing new staff and developments at BluGlass’ manufacturing facility in Silicon Valley.

Melissa Darmawan: Thanks for tuning in to Finance News. I’m Melissa Darmawan. Here to talk to us today about Bluglass (ASX:BLG) is Executive Chair James Walker. James, great to have you back in the studio.

James Walker: Yeah, thanks Melissa. Always good to be here.

Melissa Darmawan: It’s good to have you back. I heard that you recently came back from Silicon Valley following your recent acquisition. Talk us through the trip.

James Walker: Yeah, I did. It was great to get over there and look at the facility that we bought last month. It’s in Fremont, California. I think as we’ve mentioned before, it’s a fully functioning laser diode fab, and all part of our strategy of bringing our manufacturing of laser diodes in-house. It was a great facility, I’ve got to say. Lots of room for expansion, a great team already in place, and lots of equipment that we will already need as part of our process of bringing the manufacturing in-house.

Melissa Darmawan: As part of the trip, did you hire new staff?

James Walker: Yeah, we did. So, as part of taking over that facility, there was a team in place that had already been there for over a decade. We made offers, and have already hired eight of those people, and they include laser diode fabrication engineers and wafer processing technicians. So, they’ve been working in the laser diodes industry for a long time. We’ve secured them, they’re already working on site. In addition to that, we’ve already hired a quality Director of Operations who comes from the laser diode industry. And it’s just a great place to get talent. For example, we hired on the weekend a laser diode GaN scientist. We have been looking for that role for two years, and have not been able to fill it with our office in Boston and Australia. But having this facility in San Francisco actually allowed us to fill that spot quite quickly. So, super excited by the advantages we get from that facility in terms of talent that we can get access to.

Melissa Darmawan: Yeah. Congratulations on that, it’s good to see that the team is growing. Can you give us some more details as to the significance of these new roles now being filled?

James Walker: Yeah, completely. All part of our strategy, which is to bring in-house our entire manufacturing process of laser diodes. That includes the talent, resources, people who have worked in the industry. And then, the facility itself. The facility itself will allow us to increase significantly our manufacturing capability, it’ll allow us to do more production runs in development of new products, it’ll allow us to actually produce more different products quicker, at a lower cost, and obviously a greater margin. This doesn’t change our strategy, though. We’re still working with our contract manufacturers to get product out to the market soon. But, over the next couple of months, we will start to bring those processes in-house, and then be doing all the manufacturing in our facility over time.

Melissa Darmawan: With all of this news, I know this normally happens with a team behind you. Talk us through who they are, and what that means to Bluglass.

James Walker: Yeah, thanks Melissa. So, take this facility as an example, this fab in California. We only were able to secure that because of the team we’ve got in the US. So, with Jim coming on board last year as the President of Bluglass, through his network and through his contacts, we found about this facility becoming available. We wouldn’t have had that opportunity if it wasn’t for the local team in the US. So, very thankful that we’re starting to build out the laser diode team in the US. And, let’s face it, that’s where the experiences are for laser diode. That’s where the industry is. So, having this space in the US is going to be significant for Bluglass as we go forward.

Melissa Darmawan: I’m aware that the industry has two trade shows, one in America and one in Europe. And I’m aware that your team has recently attended one. Can you talk us through what the actual trade show is, and what that means?

James Walker: Yeah, sure. The trade show was in Munich, and it’s specifically about laser diodes. So, industrial applications of laser diodes. We haven’t been there for the last two years, but obviously because of Covid etc, all those normal things. So it was great to be back. It was great to talk to the customers, and it was a really strong validation for us that the customers are dying for new products, and particularly flexibility around the product. So, what we offer that the big guys don’t is different wavelengths, different form factors, and just the ability to get products quicker and more flexible. So, it was great to meet those customers, completely validated our model, that once we’ve got a product in market, we will have customers wanting to buy our products. It was a great show.

Melissa Darmawan: And is there any other feedback that you have received that could actually help you with the outlook of the company?

James Walker: Well, it was great validation of the product. So I think now with the internal team, both in Sydney and in the US, the fact that we can control our own destiny over time on the manufacturing side is a great validation of the market. And then, that was supported by the customers. So, we’re pretty excited about where we are in the process.

Melissa Darmawan: Let’s turn our attention to the bonus options. Can you give us some colour around that?

James Walker: As you know, we’ve just completed a rights issue and a placement last month, and that was really to facilitate the acquisition of this facility in California. We thought it was completely appropriate that we reward our loyal shareholders with this bonus option, just thanking them really for their support over a long period of time. So, the bonus option is a one for eight for people who own shares as of 30 May. Those options will be issued next week, and then we intend to get them listed on the ASX as soon as possible. The options have an exercise price of 3 cents, same price as the rights issue and the placement that we’ve just completed, and will expire on 30 November this year. And, once the paperwork is out, shareholders can actually exercise those options through our share registry company as soon as they’re listed.

Melissa Darmawan: Ever since we’ve been talking, there’s been news, after news, after news, after news. What should we look out for next?

James Walker: Well, I think it’s a super exciting time, right? So, taking over of the facility in Fremont, getting that upline, therefore replacing over time our contract manufacturers, lots of advantages of that. So, as I said earlier, we’ll get products out quicker, we’ll have more products in the market because we’ll have more production runs, so it’s faster processing time, at a lot better margin. So, we’re excited about the facility coming online, we’re excited about the extra resources that we should now be able to obtain by being based in California, so that’s very exciting. On the product side, you know, we’re looking forward to getting the products in customers’ hands. There’s a lot of good things going on at the moment.

Melissa Darmawan: James, it’s always great to speak with you. Look forward to catching up again soon.

James Walker: Great. Thanks, Melissa.

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