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James Sbrolla
James Sbrolla

Me and My Money

Management is key for investor in clean technology Add to ...

James Sbrolla, 44

Occupation

Management consultant

The portfolio

Includes Biorem Inc., BluMetric Environmental Inc., TurboSonic Technologies Inc., MBN Corp., Route 1 Inc., DHX Media Ltd. and Gensource Capital Corp.

The investor

For much of his career, James Sbrolla has focused on commercializing environmentally friendly technologies, also known as “clean” technologies. Currently, he is chairman of management consulting firm Environmental Business Consultants and the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the RIC (research, innovation, commercialization) Centre, a non-profit organization supporting entrepreneurship in Ontario.

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How he invests

In his professional life, Mr. Sbrolla has done a great deal of research and due diligence on companies in the clean-technology industry. His investment approach leverages the expertise and contacts that he has acquired over the years in this sector.

The human element is particularly important. “As an independent investor I try to place capital where I know and have confidence in the management,” he says. “I like a management team that I can develop a relationship with – they return calls, answer questions and are direct, whether it’s good news or bad news.”

His core positions tend to be in private clean-tech companies (not shown). The public markets are used for diversification, but also include a number of clean-tech firms.

His position in Biorem, a manufacturer of air pollution control systems, stems from a working relationship he has had with the company since 1994. Mr. Sbrolla likes that the retired CEO remains active in the company as a consultant, and has participated in a financing this year.

BluMetric Environmental (formerly Seprotech Systems Inc.) is a provider of waste water and water treatment services. TurboSonic Technologies (which trades over the counter) has “proprietary technologies in the industrial pollution control industry and is about to go through a merger transaction.”

Best move

Buying DHX Media at 80 cents and selling at $1.25, then repurchasing at 80 cents (and still holding after a doubling in the price).

Worst move

It was selling short Clean Harbors Inc. “I started the position at $4 and covered around $7 after a very painful two weeks and several sleepless nights.”

Advice

“In the clean-tech industry, one of the best, and often ignored, places to invest is in the recycling space. The Blue Box and tire-recycling programs are two examples where government and industry have worked well together and fostered a prosperous future for investment.”

Special to The Globe and Mail.

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