IN FOCUS: BALLARD POWER SYSTEMS, MANAGING THROUGH COVID-19 AND THE OUTLOOK AHEADThe alphaDIRECT Insight
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every company in our ClimateTech universe to varying degrees. This Management Series interview focuses on how Ballard has managed through the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, Ballard has maintained much of its business, aside from some supply chain disruptions in China. We would point out that, although the operations in the field were impacted by shut-downs, Ballard was considered an essential business and, as such, was able to continue to operate in Vancouver and engage with customers and suppliers. Looking to the other side of COVID, Ballard’s JVs and supply chain in China were fully restored in the second quarter with Europe beginning to normalize, according to the company. Management believes that, overall, Q2 will be a little bit softer than they had originally expected at the beginning of the year, but the second half of the year may shape up nicely and see activity levels close to where we would have expected them originally, although significant COVID-19 related risks persist, including end-customer project delays.
Black Swan events like COVID can have a lasting impact on demand for any product including fuel cell motive applications. Although Ballard noted that they have seen some pushouts, they have not experienced any cancellations or significant shift in the timing of demand. Nonetheless the risk for volatility exists as customers continue to evaluate their needs and the shape of the global economic recovery is uncertain. Given the relatively high cost of FCEVs in the ST, there could be budget constraints that would potentially slow the industry growth until there is better clarity on behalf of Ballard’s customers.
Shawn Severson: First, I would like to thank you, Tony, for taking the time to speak with us today. The last time we spoke with Ballard Power Systems, we discussed the total cost of ownership analysis for fuel cell electric vehicles relative to battery electric and internal combustion engine vehicles. Our focus today will be on Ballard’s response to COVID-19. Before we get started, could you give us a brief introduction of yourself and what brought you to Ballard?
Tony Guglielmin: Sure, thank you, Shawn. I joined Ballard as CFO ten years ago, back in 2010. At Ballard, I am responsible for all areas of finance as well as being responsible for strategic planning, corporate development, IT, legal and investor relations.
I started my career on the banking side and hold a CFA designation with most of my career having been centred around capital markets, M&A and investor relations. Prior to Ballard, I worked in a number of management roles in a number of different industries, including infrastructure, heavy equipment, electric utilities and banking.
I joined Ballard, as I suspect for the same reason many others who you may have spoken to, which was for the opportunity to work in a company that will have a meaningful, positive impact on the climate change challenge.