After bringing Ottawa’s BluMetric to profitability, CEO Roger Woeller steps aside

Roger Woeller

When BluMetric was down, its board of directors turned to company man Roger Woeller to right the ship. Now, having guided the environmental firm to two straight years of annual profits, Mr. Woeller is stepping down from his role as CEO, but hopes to remain on board as the company looks for his successor.

The Ottawa-based clean-tech company has announced that it has begun the search for Mr. Woeller’s replacement, though he will assist in the process and remain in place until a new CEO is named. Executive search firm Boyden has also been tapped to find suitable candidates.

Mr. Woeller has been CEO of BluMetric Inc. (TSX-V:BLM) since 2014, but has been with the company, in one form or another, for more than 30 years. BluMetric was formed after Seprotech, a designer and manufacturer of water treatment and wastewater solutions, conducted a reverse takeover of Ottawa-based WESA Group, where Mr. Woeller worked as a hydrogeologist and then CEO for 12 years.

When Mr. Woeller was brought in to lead the company a few years after the amalgamation, BluMetric was faltering, having lost money for many consecutive years.

“My job was to get the wings level and get this thing pulling out of the dive, setting up conditions for growth for the future ... That’s what the board hired me to do,” Mr. Woeller tells OBJ.

Indeed, BluMetric has seen substantial growth under the current CEO. The firm’s past two fiscal years have been profitable, and the company has landed a number of multimillion-dollar contracts with the federal government, primarily remediating contaminated water supplies in Canada’s north.

Mr. Woeller says he’s always been able to “identify the new-new thing,” an ability that has boded well for guiding the priorities of BluMetric’s products and services. The other factor, he says, has been the support team he has built around him.

“I have an amazing team that we’ve, in essence, rebuilt over three years,” he says. “The results show the positive impact we’ve had.”

Over the past few years, that leadership team has shrunk. Senior vice-president of growth and business development Jim Hotchkies, as well as president and COO David Haig, both recently left the company without replacements. Their duties were largely redistributed, some to director-level roles, in what Mr. Woeller says has been a streamlining of operations.

Despite BluMetric’s strong performance, Mr. Woeller says the company is looking for someone with a different background to grow the company over the next few years. While the decision ultimately lies in the hands of the board of directors, he says the next CEO should have a solid understanding of the firm’s solutions as well as the leadership and business acumen that Mr. Woeller describes as the “special sauce.”

“The individual that’s hired has to understand our business but they’ll bring another skillset to the table… this new CEO will have a different business background than I do.”

By his own measure, Mr. Woeller is “too young to retire.” As both a shareholder and someone who has spent the majority of his career at the firm, he is hoping to remain involved in BluMetric after leaving his current role. That decision, however, isn’t fully up to him.

“It’s something I have to work out with new management, if and how they want that to happen.”