Eric Melka is stepping down from Redline Communications because of back problems

Published: October 11th, 2013

The head of a Canadian wireless equipment maker is stepping down for health reasons.

Eric Melka, who was hired in 2009 to turnaround financially troubled Redline Communications, has told the company he will leave by next February. He has been on medical leave since August for a back injury that hasn’t responded to treatment.

But in a news release this morning the Toronto-based company said he won’t be returning.

Robert Williams, who has been interim CEO since August, will continue in that role.

Redline makes wireless networking equipment in machine-to-machine communications, such as connecting wireless enabled drilling equipment, or as a backhaul link.

When he was brought on board, Melka faced a company that by its own admission was struggling with outdated technology, decreasing sales and mounting losses. Now it says its product line has been revitalized and overhauled its sales organization.

“Eric Melka was the driver behind the Redline turnaround and his leadership during these times was both critical to the company’s success and truly appreciated by the board of directors and shareholders,” said Redline board chairman Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien in a statement.

“We engaged Eric at a crucial point in the Redline’s history, and he rose to the challenge, doing more than anyone could have anticipated. While we are saddened to see him go, we are pleased that he will continue with Redline as an active member of its board of directors.”

In its latest quarterly financial release, Redline said it had a loss of $800,000 before taxes and other deductions on revenue of $8.9 million for the three-month period ending June 30.

Orders during the quarter totaled $11.2 million, about 40 per cent of which was from the energy sector. It had a backlog of orders of $22 million.

During the quarter it also initialed to non-binding letters of intent to buy two unidentified companies. It is now doing due diligence.

In April spoke to Melka after it releases its year-end results who said he was extremely satisfied with the performance of the company despite post a loss of $9.5 million.

It would have had a $2.8 million profit if it didn’t have to write off a $12.8 million non-cash expense relating to a debenture.

When Melka arrived Redline was focused on making backhaul radios for telecom carriers and had bet on WiMax as the future wireless technology. However, carriers preferred LTE. Melka led a switch to that standard, and broadened the customer base as well.

Redline’s staff count is now about 140 people, including 85 in Toronto. There are research labs here and in Romania.


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