SmallcapsDaily Interview: Saagar Govil, CEO Cemtrex Inc.
Saagar Govil has been with Cemtrex since 2008 and has been the Company’s CEO and President since December 2011. He was recently named #17 on Business Insider’s “Top 100 of Silicon Alley” and “Top 40 Under 40” by Stony Brook University. Prior to becoming the CEO, he was Vice President of Operations, responsible for sales, marketing, production, and engineering. He began his career as an applications engineer providing customer support on-site and designing turn-key engineered systems for various customers and projects. Saagar Govil has a B.E. in Materials Engineering from Stony Brook University, N.Y.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions about Cemtrex Inc. (NASDAQ: CETX) Can you briefly describe the company and its focus for our readers?
Cemtrex is an emerging growth company; we own and operate multiple businesses. We've grown for almost two decades by building businesses from technology to manufacturing. Over the years, we bought and installed a number of different businesses. Currently, we have two companies in our portfolio, an AI based security technology company called Vicon and an industrial services company called Advanced Industrial Services.
Cemtrex started out as a family business in the way we were a very small company in those days. We started out as a systems integrator in the environmental industrial space, and there's limited opportunity in that market. So I wanted to take the company in a different direction. We made our first acquisition in 2013, listed on Nasdaq in 2015, and reached about 100 million in sales by 2017. And now over the last couple of years, we've restructured to focus on these two opportunities, Vicon and AIS.
Vicon recently released a new suite of AI-based analytics in an enhanced Vicon Roughneck® AI Camera series. Will you go into detail about Vicon and its focus with AI?
Vicon is a global leader in advanced security and surveillance, and we safeguard schools, borders, cities, and businesses. The company has been around for over 55 years and we've been focused on delivering mission critical, end to end security, which includes intelligent cameras, roughneck AI cameras, the video management software and storage solutions for all of that video that we capture. Today we're focused on bringing the next generation of security, which is going to be driven entirely by AI.
Up until recently, humans were able to see better than computers, and now we sort of reach the tipping point where computers can see better than humans. So that's really what's changed in the last couple of years, the technology is getting better and better.
Now leveraging AI, you can specifically do object recognition, people detection, and you can use all that information to drive better outcomes. So if a person is trespassing versus a tree swaying, you can start to eliminate those false positives and you get much more accurate data, and then you can start to take action when they happen immediately because you have better data. So, AI is really starting today with better object recognition, but tomorrow it's going to be doing many more advanced features.
What is the total addressable market for Vicon’s technology?
The school market alone is a $3 billion industry. But if you look at the outcomes, it's clear that that amount of spend is not solving the issue. The solution is not clear backpacks and clear lockers. We don't want to turn the public school system into the TSA and I think that's really critical that we don't make it feel like you're going through airport security to go to school.
The question is, how do you still keep them safe? And the reality is that leveraging the best tools today, you can drive much better outcomes. Leveraging AI, you can detect potential threats. Using the camera, the technology, using license plate recognition, you can detect whether there's vehicles that are going on the premises that are maybe considered threats or risky. I think there's a number of things that you can do today and in terms of where the technology is going, there's a lot of leveraging AI to drive better outcomes. Border Security, is a great example, technology such as computer vision, sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are playing a critical role in powering these modern systems and providing additional savings by reducing manpower needs. Our Roughneck cameras and Valerus video management software solutions are an ideal solution for border protection customers seeking advanced surveillance solutions, and due to increasing demand, will provide long term growth for Vicon.
Advanced Industrial Services (AIS) is the other subsidiary under CETX, will you go into detail about the company and the potential for growth?
AIS is an interesting opportunity for us. We've owned this company for about seven years and AIS provides industrial contracting services; such as rigging, mill writing, piping, electrical work, welding, fabrication. We do this for a lot of companies like Georgia Pacific PPG, Johnson Controls, Mitsubishi… So a number of different vertical markets. We are providing best in class staffing services for industrial labor in all these plants around the country. And we do small jobs all the way up to entire plant relocation. We're installing equipment lines, assembling equipment, and then also we do entire plant relocation. So it's pretty high value stuff in terms of what our customers are looking for. The unique opportunity here is that in the US. There's a lot of reshoring that's coming back because of the changes in geopolitics and so forth, investment in the US prioritizing our dependency on other nations. So as companies invest in their facilities here in the US, we see a long term opportunity for us to drive business improvement over the long term with AIS. And what's interesting is that good industrial labor is hard to come by these days.
That's really the majority of our workforce nowadays and so having a team and a business with 35 years of experience doing this kind of business day in and day out is really a unique thing these days that can do it well with a great reputation servicing Fortune 500 companies. The company has a strong balance sheet and it has a good reputation in the industry. So we see a lot of opportunity to grow with respect to this company and what I would also say is that it's a unique opportunity in Arc Mine to do a roll up in this space where we see that there aren't a lot of middle market players in this space. What we find is that there are a lot of really big companies, or a lot of small companies under five to 10 million in revenue. AIS does about 21 million and we see an opportunity to really build that over the next couple of years to a 200 million dollar company and we think it could create a lot of value by doing that and it would be a really attractive target at that point as we get it to that scale and size.
It's a huge and growing market and it checks the boxes in terms of the things that we like to look for when we buy a business, which is a high repeat customer base, opportunity to continue growing margins and healthy gross margins, and then macro environment that kind of was providing a win to our sales, so to speak. And so all of those things make this feel like a good business to be in over the next several years.
What challenges is CETX facing, if any?
At any company there's no shortage of challenges. I could name 50, but the reality is we have to compete with everybody else. Everybody else faces those same challenges that we do. So I wouldn't say that there's anything specifically unique to us that anybody challenges. There's economic risk, there's labor risk. There's all kinds of things, but ultimately, we think that we're in two businesses that have great macro trends and despite, let's say, the broader economic market. Even if there's maybe a recession, we can still have attractive growth despite that, because everybody needs security. And there's a large knockout trend to reinvest in this country as far as manufacturing and facilities go.
CETX reported 50 million in combined revenue in 2022. Looking forward, what are the company’s goals for future growth?
The 50 million number came from last year's revenue, and we had actually seven companies in the portfolio in that fiscal year. When you break it out, Vicon did about 24 million in sales last year, and AIS did about 21. So you put that together, it's about $45M. The remaining five companies made about 5 million, so we've carved those out. If you look at sort of the adjusted prior year numbers, it was about 45 million. We projected AIS to grow about 3% organically and then AIS to grow about 20% this year. So you combine that, it's about 22 and 28 million. So we'll be back at that 50 million range. Sales are going well for the company and so my hope is that we'll be able to continue growing about 20% and then you start to add in some of the acquisitions for AIS. That growth could be higher.
What is the company’s strategy for growth, specifically in relation to Vicon?
So the growth strategy is really to, as you say, sort of pound the ground. We want to put our technology, put our solutions in front of our customers and win that battle. One of the beautiful things about Vicon is that we've been around for 55 years, so a lot of people know us in the industry, that's a huge advantage versus, let's say, a startup that's trying to get into the space. We have the luxury of some great relationships already in the industry and it's about leveraging that to continue to drive more scale. As our technology continues to improve, we want to continue to get the word out there about all the exciting things that we can do to drive better security for our customers.
What's interesting is the residential market has adopted SaaS pretty easily right. With Ring and Nas.
Enterprise has been really late to the punch and there are a number of reasons for that. In fact, many of Vicon's customers are air gapped. So that means they don't even have a direct connection to the Internet, like a prison, for instance, for security reasons. In many parts of the facility, they don't want it. But now what you're seeing is it has penetrated the residential market, now it's in the minds of the customers to start thinking about it. We estimate about 5% of the industry has gone to the cloud or is contemplating, actively contemplating. That's an opportunity over the next five years to really convert the rest of the industry towards cloud and build recurring revenue. Today we sell perpetual licenses, the way you bought Microsoft Office perpetually, and it's moved to recurring. We see the same thing happening over the next five years and a big focus for us is shifting our revenue from perpetual licenses to recurring licenses. Now, obviously, you can sell that in the context of what the market wants, but we do think that there's a model here that a lot of customers will sign up for subscription or, let's say, recurring revenue type products and services.
So there's definitely a huge opportunity for that over the next five years, and it's a big part of our strategy.
Is there any other information you wish to share with our investors reading so we can highlight the opportunity of CETX?
We're very excited about our growth. In the short term, we're very much focused on getting back to profitability and growing as a profitable business going forward and we think that we're in two exciting areas where we can do that in an attractive way to really create value for our shareholders. And ultimately, these two businesses have really good upside as we continue to execute on our strategy. So we're really excited about the future.
Thank you for your time.