Shopping local: Calian acquires Ottawa-based wireless antenna maker Tallysman in $24.5M deal

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Aiming to boost its presence in a multibillion-dollar global industry, Calian Group has acquired an Ottawa manufacturer of wireless antennas in a deal worth up to $24.5 million.

Kanata-based Calian, which provides a wide range of health-care, IT, engineering and training services and technology, said Thursday it is adding Tallysman Wireless to its stable of companies. 

Calian will pay $15.7 million in cash up front, with two additional payments of $4 million and $4.8 million contingent on Tallysman hitting certain earnings targets over the next 30 months.

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While the Kanata company has been manufacturing large satellite antennas of 10 metres or more in diameter for years at its Saskatoon-based Advanced Technology division, CEO Kevin Ford said the acquisition of Tallysman ​– which makes units as small as a human hand for clients in the autonomous vehicle, precision agriculture and other sectors ​– will give the firm a stronger foothold in the fast-growing wireless satellite communications space.

“It totally revamps our whole satellite opportunity from my perspective,” Ford said. “To me, this whole marketplace is really something we haven’t played in. We’re going to be going from building tens of ground (satellite) systems to thousands of antennas on the (global satellite system) marketplace. It really helps position us for future growth.” 

Founded in 2010, Tallysman now has more than 40 employees and has been growing its revenues at an impressive rate of 40 per cent annually. 

Ford said Calian had been following the success of its Kanata North neighbour for a while, and leaders at the companies got to know each other through mutual contacts. When Tallysman began looking for a potential buyer, president Gyles Panther approached Calian, and after a few months of negotiations, the deal was done. 

Ford said the latest acquisition gives Calian the ability to offer “the next generation” of communications technology to its customers.

“This is another Ottawa success story,” he said of Tallysman. “We just really loved the company. The business has been profitable, it’s been growing. It’s a world leader in its domain, and it’s right in our backyard.”   

It’s the fourth time this year Calian has pulled the trigger on a deal for a local company, following its acquisitions of Allphase Clinical Research Services and Alio Health Services in January and cybersecurity firm EMSEC Solutions in mid-July.

Ford, who’s overseen more than a dozen M&A transactions since he joined Calian nearly a decade ago, said local deals are always extra special.

“There’s so much innovation happening in Ottawa,” he said. “Here we are trying to grow globally and we’re doing it with companies based out of Ottawa. It’s just a great story.”

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