Ottawa’s BluMetric continues turnaround with second straight annual profit

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Some two years ago, executives at Ottawa-based clean-tech firm BluMetric set a straightforward goal: Return to profitability.

The company, which specializes in water and wastewater treatment, had lost money for seven straight years, including nearly $7 million in its fiscal 2014 alone.

Amid client-driven delays and a soft market, BluMetric was failing to generate enough money to cover its overhead.

In a dramatic turnaround, the company said this week that it recorded its second straight annual profit.

The company posted a profit of slightly more than $588,000 in its fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2016, a decline from the $1.02 million profit it recorded a year earlier.

Revenues were down six per cent to $31.5 million.

BluMetric CEO Roger Woeller attributed the decline to the timing of several large projects, but said anticipated growth would leave the firm less susceptible to large swings in revenue.

The company’s work in recent years has overwhelmingly been for Canadian clients, including clean-up of mines in northern Ontario as well as Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, although it also has customers in the U.S. and Central America in addition to experience in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Looking ahead, BluMetric says one of its key focus areas is on ammonia removal systems, a global market it says is worth more than $10 billion.

Ammonia is responsible for many of the algae blooms in rivers and lakes around the world that can close recreational areas and fisheries, leading regulators to increasingly impose discharge limits.

Ammonia frequently comes from sewage discharges, runoff from landfills and agricultural lands as well as food processing wastewater. It’s also found in mines, where ammonium nitrate is used as a blasting agent.

BluMetric says it secured its first $1-million order for its ammonia removal system last year.