In May 2017 Chromasens became part of the Lakesight group joining Mikrotron and Tattile. InVISION spoke with Corrado Franchi, CEO of Tattile and Board Member of Lakesight Technologies about the strategic objectives and backgrounds of Lakesight Technologies; the company that entered the machine vision industry by bringing Tattile back to life in 2012 and since then is active in the machine vision industry.
The companies Tattile, Mikrotron and Chromasens are now members of Lakesight, a name that not long ago was still rather unknown in the machine vision industry. Could you introduce us to Lakesight Technologies?
Franchi: For this it is at first important to take a look at the structure of the machine vision industry in Europe. While machine vision technologyitself has matured in the last decades, the structure of the companies providing machine vision technology more or less stayed the same. We have hundreds of players on the European market, and out of these only a handful exceeds a turnover of 100 million Euros. The vast majority of companies are much smaller.
Our estimate is that 90% of the market players still are below an annual sales volume of 10 million Euros; and practically all of them have the same growth pattern in their history: A technology dedicated founder who managed to grow the company to the existing level due to continuous R&D on a limited choice of products and demand from a rather unchanged customer base. However, for several reasons many of these small players now reach the limit of growth that is possible under these corporate structures. Their product offering often is too narrow, the sales team is too small and geographically limited, and many times the company simply doesn’t have the financial means to enter the next evolution step by conquering new markets.
In addition, since growth always‚ happened‘ in the past there often is a lack of strategic focus and no notable and structured investment in marketing or business development. The company is too small to overcome export hurdles and enter new geographic markets. These are the market conditions under which Lakesight Technologies was formed to give an answer. Lakesight is finally a proposal or rather a solution for companies in such a situation to overcome these constraints. The idea behind Lakesight is to form a platform of smaller machine vision players that creates synergies in order to enable higher growth for all parties.
New investments have to be financed. So where does the money come from, who is the investor behind Lakesight Technologies, and what are his objectives?
Franchi: Lakesight as a holding company is a 100% daughter of Ambienta, a leading European private equity fund operating out of Milan, Düsseldorf and London, focused on industrial growth and investing in companies driven by environmental trends. Ambienta invests with a long-term focus in businesses that offer products or services well suited to control pollution or increase resource efficiency.
So what are the benefits from this merger for group members and customers?
“The idea behind Lakesight is to form a platform of smaller machine vision players that creates synergies in order to enable higher growth for all parties.“ CorradoFranchi, Lakesight (Bild: Tattile s.r.l.)
Franchi: When you look at the business focus of the group members you will find that it is not at all competitive, but very much complementary: Chromasens is a world leading manufacturer of line-scan cameras that matches perfectly to the high-speed specialist Mikrotron and the high-end industrial generalist Tattile. Still, there is massive room for synergies. This includes shared sales channels, management resources, and research and investment programs. Let me make this more concrete: When Mikrotron joined the group in 2015; the company was facing many of the typical issues I just explained. Since then we addresses several fields to find synergies. For instance, as a group we can share personnel costs and were able to hire more sales people who are now trained to distribute Tattile, Mikrotron and quite freshly also Chromasens products. We also integrate and bundle the R&D teams of the group members in order to profit from individual strengths as well as to avoid shortage of highly-skilled R&D employees. Another action we take is that we bunch the procurement of the individual group members in order to create economies of scale where this is economically attractive, e.g. in the negotiation with sensor suppliers. Better prices means more room for R&D and subsequently better products for our customers. As a group we not only can employ more sales people now, but have also access to the customer base of all group members instead of just one individual company. And through the complementary product range of Tattile, Mikrotron and Chromasens the choice of cameras and solutions we can offer has multiplied.
So will the brand names Tattile, Mikrotron and Chromasens disappear in the near future?
Franchi: Clearly not. Each of the group members has its own, well-known reputation in the market that we do not intend to abandon. What will happen, however, is that the name Lakesight will be heard more often wherever we bundle activities as I just pointed out. Trade shows are another example where we plan to have a Lakesight booth in future under which the independent brands, currently Tattile, Mikrotron and Chromasens have their appearance.
You say ‚currently‘ – does this mean you have further acquisition plans?
Franchi: In principle yes. We are still acquisitive and certainly do not close ourselves for new opportunities. The Lakesight project is still open; and interested machine vision companies which currently think about joining a larger entity are encouraged to contact us.