Congratulations Michael on FOM Technologies record year 2021! Can you start off by giving us a short introduction about yourself?
– Sure. I have a financial/economic background having been working in the financial industry in Copenhagen, London and Stockholm for the first 16 years of my career. After that I decided to change to the corporate world, specializing in management, strategy and business development with a huge passion for cleantech and a greener and more sustainable world to pass on to our children and the next generation. My specialty is to grow and develop SME’s.
Can you describe FOM Technologies area of business for those who is not familiar with the company from before?
– FOM Technologies is a super exiting SME with tremendous potential. The technology is a spin-out from the Danish Technical University (DTU) and we provide machines and equipment for material scientist around the world. They use our machines to print thin uniform layers of almost any organic material so the material gets a function (to better absorb sunlight or membranes for batteries etc. – hence the abbreviation FOM (Functional Organic Materials). The company was founded in late 2012 and has been “born global” with more than 100 customers in over 20 countries up until now.
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FOM Technologies is expected to grow fast during the next years. Do you have to make significant investments, in order to achieve this growth?
– No – if you mean in factories and production lines the answer is no. All that is outsourced to sub-suppliers (all 1 hours of transportation from CPH), but if you mean investment in the best people, larger stock (due to the difficult global supply chain issues everybody is currently facing), and continuous innovation in our product portfolio then the answer is yes. All great companies wanting to grow needs hard work and investing in the future potential.
Will you be able to finance growth with your own cash flow or will you have to raise capital anytime soon?
– As CEO you have many exciting responsibilities, one of the most important ones are to always secure an adequate capital structure put in relation to your commercial activities. That can be done in many ways through equity, cash management, loans and credit facilities etc. At FOM we are super conservative, have zero debt and have financed the growth journey our self since the establishing but with extra capital infusion at our listing in 2020. We are always monitoring our increasing customer order inflow closely and will inform the market accordingly if we decide to adjust the capital structure.
FOM Technologies has already built a customer base with a number of prestigious universities and Fortune 500 companies. How big is your client base (as of today) and do you have any recurring customers?
– FOM wants to play in the very best global league at what we do. Our technology is state-of-the-art, and our track record of leading universities and research institutions are impressive on a global scale, and in perspective of our modest size until now. At present we have more than 100 global customers in more than 20 countries on all 6 continents. We brag about being “born global” and will maintain that focus. The new thing is - that where our customers historically has been categorized as academic customers, we now see a steady and increasing interest from corporate customers. That is a clear sign of a maturing market for our technology and is very promising for the future.
Do you consider FOM Technologies business model to be scalable?
– Absolutely – otherwise I would never have joined the company and become a major shareholder. I have spent the last 16 years of my career on management, business development and strategy – where the dominating key word is how to scale things. At a point in my career I wanted to work for a company that I had a significant stake in myself and looked at a numerous of companies. I choose FOM as it ticked all the fundamentals for a successful growth case. That was my analysis when I joined in 2017 and that is still my belief.
After a strong financial year 2021, you gave out a quite conservative financial outlook for 2022. Do you agree on that the guidance is conservative and is it possible that you will raise your financial guidance during the year?
– Yes I agree on that statement, and I think it’s great to be conservative in a financial world of listed companies where the “hockey stick” can’t be exponential enough. My management mantra is: “Under promise and overdeliver”. Right now the world is very “unnormal” compared to how it has been between the 1950’s and up until 2010’ish.
Europe is at war, we are still struggling with a global pandemic, and on top of that we have major global supply chain issues. For 2022 at FOM we might face the situation that we can sell much more that we can supply, so we have all reasons to take a conservative approach on things. That is what we are known for, and that is how we will continue to manage our business.
How big of an issue are the supply challenges (mainly caused by the COVID-19 epidemic) and will FOM Technologies be affected by higher energy costs?
– As mentioned above, supply chain issues are the first and most crucial issue for any technology company in the world that competes on a global scale. So that is also the biggest challenge for FOM Technologies. It has our highest priority. On the positive side our product and solutions are not very much affected on higher energy cost. So that is the good thing.
There are very few competitors that offer similar coating services as FOM Technologies. Do you expect tightened competition in the next few years?
– Yes certainly – and we consider that as a really positive thing. Slot-die coating is currently a niche and a very unknown technology. From our side the technology is fully developed – but it just needs to be presented to potential customers, and a small SME in Scandinavia can’t do that themselves on a global scale. That needs to be a joined effort by market competitors because the market potential is so huge. We want to grow with the market, and faster than the market, and want to be one of the best in the market (one the market leaders), that is our goal, but we very much applaud that other players are also promoting this new exciting technology.
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
– FOM Technologies are aiming to maintain the position as one of the global market leaders within slot-die coating. At that time we are significant larger than our current set-up with sales organization in US, HQ in Denmark, global distributor network and partnership around the world. Our focus area will still be Energy Harvesting (Solar) and Energy Storage (Fuel cells, Batteries, and Power-to-X), and 1-2 more really exciting new application fields that I can’t really reveal much about at present.