James Haden joins BluGlass (ASX:BLG) as President

An introduction to newly appointed BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG) President, Jim Haden. 

Melissa Darmawan: Hello. Melissa Darmawan for the Finance News Network. Today, I’m talking to BluGlass (ASX:BLG) Executive Chair James Walker and newly appointed BluGlass President, Jim Haden. James and Jim, thank you for joining us.

James Walker: Great. Thanks, Melissa.

Jim Haden: Thank you, Melissa.

Melissa Darmawan: Firstly, to you, Jim. Congratulations on your appointment to the executive team. Can you tell investors about your background and expertise in the industry?

Jim Haden: Thank you, Melissa. I also want to thank James and the BluGlass team for this fantastic opportunity. I obtained my Master’s of electrical engineering degree in solid state materials and quantum electronics from the University of Southern California. I started my career at a small start-up, Spectra Diode Labs, in 1988, and was part of the team that helped them become the market leader in 980 nanometre lasers during the telecom boom in the ’90s. And then that led to, in 2001, Spectra Diode Labs merging with JDSU in a $41 billion deal, which at that time was the largest deal to date in technology. I continued to serve five more years as Director of Operations at JDSU and then moved to Coherent, where I became the Director of Operations in the product line management team. Then from there, I went to nLIGHT as the COO, where once again I was part of the team that moved from a sort of product development company to a more commercialised company that now is the global market leader in high power semiconductor lasers, direct diode, and fibre laser systems.

Most recently, I assisted Soraa Laser Diodes, SLD, co-founded by Nobel Laureate Shuji Nakamura, who invented the gallium nitride laser, or LED, and then Steve DenBaars at UCSB. SLD, now known as Kyocera SLD, because of a merger with Kyocera Inc, is the world’s leader in ultra bright… basically, lighting, and so from different systems like headlights, high beams, and spotlights. And, when I got there, the technology was such that the lasers wouldn’t live for more than a couple hundred hours, but since then, they’re qualified in BMW and spotlights for emergency vehicles and so forth.

Throughout my career, I have moved from research to product and process development. I’ve expanded then to operations and executive management, and it’s included overseeing the advanced technology groups, commercialisation of products, product line management, manufacturing, engineering operations, and through that all, solving significant technical and business problems to deliver ground-breaking products and new applications to the market.

Melissa Darmawan: Jim, what drew you to BluGlass, and what do you feel you could bring to the company?

Jim Haden: Well, as I mentioned, Spectra Diode Lasers was the market leader in the ’90s for 980 nanometres. Now Nichia is the 800 pound gorilla in the blue laser market. However, BluGlass customers are telling us that there’s many underserved sectors, and it requires agility and more flexibility to go after those exciting opportunities. And I was drawn to BluGlass because not only do I believe this team will deliver products, but they’ll do it with sort of standard processes that other companies use similar. But then we’ve got our proprietary RPCVD growth technology that will bring advances that will really delight and awaken new markets. At Spectra Diode Labs, I was part of a team that was the gorilla, but then at nLIGHT, and at SLD laser, I was part of teams that had to figure out how to navigate around that gorilla and find the niche where that gorilla didn’t play well. And so I’m really looking forward to bringing some of those experiences to this BluGlass team.

Melissa Darmawan: Can you outline your KPIs as president and your vision for BluGlass?

Jim Haden: We’ve recently shifted from an equipment and licensing focus to a components focus. In light of that change and that transition, first and foremost, we need to develop a product that will generate excitement in the market, a product across multiple wavelengths that meets or exceeds power, efficiency and reliability expectations. I’m looking forward to working with the talented BluGlass team and advancing the company’s vision. I’m equally excited about the challenges and the enormous potential ahead, especially with BluGlass’s differentiated RPCVD technology. There are considerable untapped needs in the market, and I’m anxious to work with this team to harness that growth potential.

Melissa Darmawan: In terms of challenges to overcome, can you elaborate on the reliability challenge and your plans to tackle this?

Jim Haden: Thomas Edison was famous for saying about his light bulb invention journey, “I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Light-emitting diodes and laser diodes are complex technology. Fortunately, I’ve experienced many of the pitfalls common to semiconductor lasers over the past few decades. To produce good lasers, we need to deliver four things: high gain, low loss epi; low resistance metalisation; low loss passivated facets; and mechanically sound thermal management for packaging. We will focus in on failure modes with a variety of analytics, and then we will investigate the best of the best and the worst of the worst. We will compare, contrast and refine, eliminating variation and removing the root causes as we go. It may not sound sexy, but it’s worked at Spectra Diode Labs, JDS Uniphase, Coherent, nLIGHT, and most recently, KSLD, and it will work at BluGlass.

Melissa Darmawan: Now to you, James. You’re remaining as BluGlass Executive Chair. Can you tell us about your ongoing focus and responsibilities?

James Walker: Great. Thanks, Melissa. First, I want to say I’m really excited to introduce Jim to our shareholders today. A great addition to the team, and definitely will help drive this company in our next phase of growth. As you’ve just heard, Jim’s extensive commercialisation experience and technical strength, as well as his customer and supply chain networks that he’s built up in this industry since the early ’90s, will be invaluable in BluGlass solving our reliability issues, but more importantly, driving this company to profitability in the future.

For us to attract someone of Jim’s calibre is unique in an Australian context, and really does show the unique application of our RPCVD technology and why it will play a significant role in this industry. It’s very exciting to have Jim on and be leading this team in all aspects of the business. He will transition this company from an R&D company through to a product manufacturing and technology development company.

I’m glad to be part of this journey and remain on as an Executive Chair to help ensure a seamless transition across to Jim. My focus will be on the financial and corporate governance compliance requirements of this business, to allow Jim to focus on delivering a product and transitioning this business, as I’ve already said.

Melissa Darmawan: Thanks, James. A final question to you both. What can investors look forward to in the year ahead?

James Walker: I’m really excited that we’ve got Jim on board, and as Jim will change this company to a product manufacturing and technology business away from a historical R&D business that we’ve been to date. I’m very interested to see how we progress through the reliability issue and getting products out to market in the short to medium term.

Melissa Darmawan: And your view, Jim?

Jim Haden: Well, first, we will provide a beachhead product that excites the market and leads to relationships that will create additional opportunities. Next, we will establish partnerships and identify the resources to move us from the beachhead to more stable ground with additional products, improved performance, and better reliability.

Melissa Darmawan: James and Jim, thank you so much for your time today. I look forward to catching up with you both later in the year.

James Walker: Great. Thanks, Melissa.

Jim Haden: Thanks, Melissa.

Ends