A short drive southeast of Haifa, not far from Kiryat Tivon, one will find Kibbutz Ramat-David, where the high-tech irrigation company Irri-Al-Tal has its headquarters.
There, in Israel’s Jezreel Valley, Irri-Al-Tal develops sophisticated irrigation water systems. Pipes, pumps, driplines and command-and-control systems that operate in the cloud and improve the efficient use of water are all part of Irri-Al-Tal’s product line, which can be found watering crops as far afield as China, Ecuador, Peru and Ethiopia.
Now, the company is seeking a presence in Canada, but in the concrete confines of Bay Street, not necessarily in the fields of rural Canada.
On Jan. 28, an initial public offering (IPO) for stock in the company will close and on Jan. 29, Irri-Al-Tal will debut with a listing on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V), under the name Water Ways Technology.
Water Ways will join six other Israeli companies already listed on the TSX-V.
Leading up to the IPO, the company’s founder and CEO, Ohad Haber, along with several colleagues, conducted a traveling road show across the country, meeting potential investors in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.
They are hoping to raise $4.6 million from the IPO, on top of $1.75 million raised earlier from several Canadian and Israeli investors and an investment firm.
It’s all part of the company’s plan to grow the company’s business in the increasingly important and lucrative field of irrigation technology, said Ronnie Jaegermann, the head of Investment Banking Advisory at Aloni Haft, a Tel-Aviv boutique investment bank, which is providing financial advice to Irri-al-Tal.
Worldwide, irrigation is a $17 billion business, of which Israel’s share is $2 billion and Irri-Al-Tal’s piece of that is less than one per cent. “We know we can be more than that,” said Jaegermann, who also serves as director of Irri-Al-Tal. But to do that, Irri-Al-Tal has to get bigger.
In 2017, Irri-Al-Tal reported revenue of nearly $14 million and net income of $967,571. Two year before that, revenue was $8.5 million and net income was $64,216.
Continued growth and an infusion of capital will allow the company to increase its market share and expand its reach, particularly in the growing area of cannabis cultivation, Jaegermann said.
Haber – who founded Irri-Al-Tal in 2004 and has 30 years of experience in project management, sales and marketing in the agricultural industry – said, “We decided a few years ago to go look to be a public company and we decided to do it here in Toronto.”
Irri-Al-Tal engaged Foundation Markets to help raise capital and through an elaborate process of transferring shares to a local shell company, met the TSX-V’s requirements for getting listed.
Haber said his analysis showed that Canadians “have interest in Israeli technology.” Furthermore, Canada is a world leader in the cannabis industry, an area into which Water Ways is planning to expand.
“Canada is the biggest public market for cannabis companies in the world,” Jaegermann said, noting that the Canadian company Cronos already has a cannabis venture in Israel and that Irri-Al-Tal “is the primary contractor for their irrigation system.”
“Israel is known for its precision irrigation technology,” Jaegermann continued. Drip irrigation was developed in Israel, where water conservation is a priority. With drip irrigation, 95 per cent of the water is absorbed by the plants and only five per cent is run off.
Jaegermann and Haber believe Israel’s reputation in high-tech precedes it and Canadians are more and more willing to invest in the country’s advanced technologies.
“It’s easy to sell (Israeli) missiles, irrigation and cyber tech,” Haber quipped.