Founded in 1996, Varis has a reputation for innovative communications technology and a respectable customer base in the U.S. and Australia.
Becker Mining Systems supplies transformers and switchgear, automation, communication, transportation and roof support systems for the global coal mining industry.
Varis will continue to operate under its own name and carry on with R&D and manufacturing operations in Sudbury, said managing director Matt Ward.
“Becker gives us the financial clout to fund our growth. They acquired a successful company and they intend it to remain successful. Having the financial wherewithal to do that is good.”
The sale closed Nov. 1, 2006.
Varis will be able to work with the Becker sales force and leverage the resources of a 1,100-employee company with offices in 10 countries.
“Mining is a small business,” said Ward. “Everyone knows everyone else. They were looking to get into the U.S. market because they had nothing in the western hemisphere. They started looking at the market in 2005 – 2006 and they kept running into us. It happened enough times that (the acquisition) made sense.”
Another Becker subsidiary in South Africa also designs and manufactures communication and tracking systems. As part of the same group, they will be able to sell each other’s products and offer customers a wider range of solutions, said Ward.
Varis brings to the table its Smart Com underground communication system with Ethernet over leaky feeder capability.
“It’s a real point of distinction when you’re comparing communication networks,” said Ward. “Two-way radios are great, but if you can on the same communication network start to bring some real data, that’s a game changer.”
The company has also developed a two-way blast control system that operates over its leaky feeder system.
Varis is the third supplier in Sudbury to be snapped up by a larger German company in the last few years.
In 2006, the Schauenburg Group of Mulheim-Ruhr acquired Jannatec Radio Systems, manufacturer of the Johnny Light radio cap lamp, and DWYWIDAG-Systems International (DSI) acquired Ground Control (Sudbury) Ltd.