Transcat, Inc.

Q4 2023 Earnings Conference Call


spk01: Greetings. Welcome to the Transcat Inc. fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2023 financial results. At this time, all participants are on a listen-only mode. A question and answer session will follow the formal presentation. If anyone should require operator assistance during the conference, please press star zero on your telephone keypad. Please note this conference is being recorded. I'll now turn the conference over to your host, Tom Barbedo. You may begin.
spk05: Thank you, operator, and good morning, everyone. We appreciate your time and your interest in Transcat. With me here on the call today is our President and CEO, Lee Ruto, and our Chief Operating Officer, Mark Doheny. We'll begin the call with some prepared remarks, and then we will open up the call for questions. Our earnings release crossed the wire after markets closed yesterday. Both the earnings release and the slides that we will reference be referenced during our remarks will be found on our website,, in the investor relations section. If you would please refer to slide number two. As you are aware, we make forward-looking statements during the formal presentation and Q&A portion of this teleconference. These statements apply to future events which are subject to risk and uncertainties, as well as other factors that
spk01: could
spk05: cause the risk. These statements are outlined in the news release as well as in the documents filed by the company with the SEC. You can find those on our website where we regularly post information about the company, as well as on the SEC's website at We undertake no obligation to publicly update or correct any of the forward-looking statements contained in this call, whether as a information, future events, or otherwise. Expect is required by law. Please review our forward-looking statements in conjunction with these precautionary factors. Additionally, during today's call, we will discuss certain non-GAAP measures, which we believe will be useful in evaluating our performance. You should not consider the presentation of this additional information in isolation, or as a substitute for results prepared in accordance with GAAP. We've provided reconciliation of non-GAAP to compare GAAP measures in the tables accompanying the earnings release. With that, I'll turn the call over to Lee.
spk02: Thank you, Tom. Good morning, everyone. We appreciate you joining us on the call today. Our strong performance in the fourth quarter rounded out another great year for TransCAT. Broad-based strength across our business platforms drove an increase in consolidated revenue of 12% to $230 million for fiscal 2023, a new record for TransCAT. The results also included record revenue and gross margin in our service segment, as well as on a consolidated basis. Consolidated gross margin expanded 110 basis points to 29.6%. It was driven by margin expansion in both our service and distribution segments. Adjusted a key metric for us given our acquisition strategy grew 16% in the prior year to $30.4 million. So another good year in the books, demonstrating the continued durability and resiliency of our business model and the attractive regulated end markets we serve. For the full year, our service segment generated 19% overall revenue growth, including 10% organic growth. Demand in both our calibration business as well as our NEXA enterprise asset management business remain strong. Our ability in fiscal 2023 to capture a significant number of revenue synergies between NEXA's professional services platform and TransCAT's technical services platform continue to drive a sustainable long-term competitive advantage in the highly regulated, high cost of failure industries that we serve. The expansion of NEXA's suite of professional services has been well received throughout the United States, Ireland, and for the first time, we opportunistically perform work in various parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany. For the full year, we expanded service gross margin by 30 basis points to 32.2%. Service margins continue to benefit from our differentiated value proposition, inherent operating leverage, and our continued focus on automation and operational excellence, primarily through process improvement. In fiscal 2023, we successfully acquired and integrated three companies, Alliance Calibration in Cincinnati, E2B Calibration in Cleveland, and Complete Calibration in Ireland. The acquisitions expanded our addressable markets, widened the breadth of our service offerings, and allowed us to leverage our existing infrastructure. We are very proud of the success our various teams are having around integration. The process of successfully joining multiple companies together into a cohesive, well-integrated system is one of the ways we continually differentiate Transcat. Capitalizing on both sales synergies, which is our typical and primary objective, along with practical cost synergies, is a nuanced process. The alignment of both synergies delivers operational excellence and a superior customer and employee experience. Turning to our fourth quarter service segment performance, steady demand drove service segment revenue growth of 15% and organic growth of 10%. This represented our 56th straight quarter of -over-year service revenue growth. Recurring revenue streams in the highly regulated environments that we serve continue to benefit our service segment. Service margin in the fourth quarter expanded 90 basis points to 34%. Turning to distribution for the full year, despite continued challenges with supply chain shortages, revenue grew 3%. Gross margin expanded 180 basis points from prior year, driven primarily by significant growth in our high margin rental business. The $30.4 million in EBITDA supported a strong balance sheet. Our capitalized on growth opportunities, which include M&A activities in the highly fragmented third-party calibration services market and the NEXA-oriented professional services market. Behind the numbers, we continue to focus on leadership development. Strong financial performance over the past several years has supported investments in our people on a continuous basis. Leadership is another differentiator that widens the moat around Transcat and fortifies our to execute our strategic plan well into the future. With that, I'll turn things over to Tom for a deeper look into the fiscal 2023 fourth quarter and full year financial performance.
spk05: Thanks, Lee. I'll start on slide number four of the earnings deck posted on our website. It provides detail regarding our revenue on a consolidated basis and by segment for the fourth quarter and full year. Fourth quarter consolidated revenue of $62.1 million was up 11% versus prior year on service segment strength and solid revenue performance in our distribution business. Looking at it by segment, service revenue growth remained very strong at 15% with 10% of the growth coming organically and the other 5% from acquisition. Turning to distribution, revenue of $22.3 million was up 5% versus the prior year. We continue to see excellent performance from the rental business, which continues to grow a very meaningful rate. We do continue to be impacted by extended vendor lead times attributed to our year on backlog of 8.5 million, which is up 8% in comparison to the end of the prior fiscal year. On a full year basis, consolidated revenue was $230.6 million, an increase of over 12% compared to the prior fiscal year, which represents a new record high for Transcat. Our service business continued to be very resilient, resulting in year over year growth of 19%. The distribution business was up over 3% compared to the prior year, again driven by strong performance in the rental business. Turning to slide five, our consolidated growth profit for the fourth quarter of $19.2 million was up 15% from the prior year and our gross margin expanded 100 basis points to 30.9%. Service gross margins expanded 90 basis points to a record quarterly high, 34%. The service margin increase further demonstrates our ability to leverage our fixed costs and higher levels of technician productivity. Distribution segment gross margin of .2% was up 70 basis points. For the full year, our consolidated gross profit increased 17% to 68.4 million and our gross margin improved 110 basis points to 29.6%. Our service gross margin was 32.2%, which represented an increase of 30 basis points compared to prior year. Distribution segment gross margin of .3% was up 180 basis points as a segment benefited from significant growth in the marginal rental business and also included the impact of previously discussed strategic buys. Turning to slide six, Q4 net income of 3.7 million increased 20% from the prior year and our diluted earnings per share came in at 48 cents. We report adjusted diluted earnings per share as well to normalize for the impacts of upfront and ongoing acquisition related costs. Q4 adjusted diluted earnings per share was 60 cents. Full year net income declined 6% from prior year and down 10 cents per share, primarily driven by higher interest expense, which drove a negative year of year impact of 21 cents per share. Flipping to slide seven, where we show our adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin, we use adjusted EBITDA, which is non-GAAP, to gauge the performance of our business because we believe it's the best measure of our operating performance and ability to generate cash. As we continue to execute on our acquisition strategy, this metric becomes even more important to highlight as it does adjust for one-time deal related transactions costs as well as the increased level of non-cash expenses that will hit our income statement from acquisition purchase accounting. With that in mind, fourth quarter consolidated adjusted EBITDA of $9 million was up 18% from the same quarter in the prior year and adjusted EBITDA margins expanded 80 basis points. Both segments had adjusted EBITDA growth and EBITDA margin expansion compared to last year. Full year EBITDA was $30.4 million, which was up 16% compared to the prior year, driven by significant year of year profit improvement in both segments. As always, a reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA to operating income and net income can be found in the section of this presentation. Moving to slide eight, operating free cash flow was consistent with last year with cash from operations well in line with expectations. Full year capital expenditures were $800,000 lower than prior year and continued to be centered around service segment capabilities, technology, including automation, and future growth projects. The investments in our facility footprint taking place in the prior fiscal year. For fiscal year 2024, we anticipate our cap ex to be in the range of $10 to $11 million with the areas of focus remaining consistent with fiscal 2023. Slide nine highlights our strong balance sheet. At year end, we had total net debt of $47.6 million with a leverage ratio of 1.6x. We had $37.3 million available from our credit facility at quarter end. And as previously announced, we acquired TIC MS for $9.7 million just after the end of our fiscal year, paid for with a combination of 70% stock and 30% cash. As we focus on fiscal 2024, there is one item to note in more detail. We expect our income tax rate to range between 21 and 23% in fiscal 2024. This estimate includes federal, various state, Canadian, and Irish income taxes. And it reflects the discrete tax accounting associated with share-based payment awards. Although the tax rate is consistent with recent years, there will be a difference in calendarization of the tax benefit from the vesting of share-based payments in fiscal 2024. These benefits are normally realized in the first fiscal quarter, but in fiscal 2024, we'll see the benefit in quarter two due to a timing difference of when the awards were made in fiscal 2021. In the first quarter of fiscal 2023, the benefit, this benefit positively impacted the tax rate by approximately 13%. And we would expect a similar impact in second quarter of fiscal 2024. Lastly, we expect to file our form 10K on June 6. With that, I'll turn it back to you,
spk02: Lee. Okay. Thank you, Tom. So to wrap up, we are pleased with the team's performance in fiscal 2023. We've consistently delivered exceptional results through various economic cycles as can be seen over the past 10 plus years. We believe the combination of our talented team and our differentiated portfolio of businesses is unique and will continue to drive longer-term competitive advantage. Our business model remains durable and demand across our highly regulated end markets remains strong. We expect to perform well in fiscal 2024 despite macroeconomic uncertainty. As we work our way through the first quarter of fiscal 2024, we have good momentum in our new service pipeline and we expect another year of organic growth in the high single-digit range. In fiscal 2024, we expect continued margin expansion across our service channels, particularly in the back half of the year as we make incremental first quarter investments to drive scalability for longer-term growth. We are well positioned financially and expect our strong balance sheet, solid cash flow generation to support the conversion of our robust and diverse M&A pipeline. At the very start of fiscal 2023, in April, we acquired tick metrology services. Early indication points to a strong start to the St. Louis bolt-on. We expect acquisitions along with strong organic growth to increase the trajectory of our business over time to continue to drive the sustainable growth journey that we've been on for over the past decade. With that, operator, we can open the line for questions.
spk01: Thank you. At this time, we will be conducting a question and answer session. If you would like to ask a question, please press star one on your telephone keypad. A confirmation tone will indicate your line is in the question queue. You may press star two if you would like to remove your question from the queue. For participants using speaker equipment, it may be necessary to pick up your handset before pressing the star keys. One moment please while we poll for questions. And our first question comes from the line of Greg Palm with Craig Hallam Capital Group. Please proceed with your question.
spk00: Yeah, thanks Haley. Tom, congrats on the good end of the year here. Thanks. Thanks, Greg. Let's maybe start with the, you know, the commentary about, you know, some of these kind of near-term investments in NEXA, in CBLs, maybe a little bit more detail on kind of what you're seeing from those two areas, you know, presumably better activity, but, you know, why now, why not six months from now or a year from now and just a little bit more details on sort of what investments you're doing here.
spk02: Okay, well, I appreciate the question. Yeah, I think we, you know, we called out CBLs in NEXA in the first quarter because it's just a natural byproduct of our growth. You know, when you look at CBLs, we know year in and year out when you land a significant or meaningful material number, you sometimes have a short-term, you know, drag as you get your technicians up and running on margin before they become, you know, effective and efficient. So we've got that taking place, Greg, in the first quarter. And NEXA, you know, they've continued to grow, perform really well as an acquisition, both in the US and in Ireland primarily. And it's time, we think it's appropriate to, you know, do an infrastructure build there around sales and even operations so we can continue to scale, you know, that operation. We think it's got some upside and we want to make sure we make the right investments in a timely manner. So it's a combination of those two things. Those are the primary drivers. But we definitely expect margin improvement, you know, in the year for sure.
spk00: Yeah, that makes sense. On NEXA specifically, I think it's been, I don't know what, a year and a half, two years under ownership now. So I guess, you know, looking back in hindsight, what's surprised you, you know, in terms of synergies? Can you just give us some sense on kind of how that's played out? It sounds like you're pretty excited about the future of the business there. So a little bit more commentary on what's working would be great.
spk02: Right. Well, we still love the deal and September will be two years. So they got off to a really good start when we reflect back on, you know, the first year and three quarters. We like the team. We like the management team. I think, you know, it's met our expectations. It's probably exceeded our expectations. We knew we had potential there. I think the synergies that go both ways between Transcat customers, you know, offering opportunities to NEXA and vice versa. I think they both come to fruition. NEXA certainly has picked up a fair amount of meaningful business from our portfolio of ,000-ish customers. So it's all going well. And the infrastructure built a byproduct of that success.
spk00: Okay, great. And then I guess last one, and it sort of dovetails into the NEXA, but more broadly speaking, just, you know, expansion into Europe. But, you know, you sort of called out a number of additional countries where you're doing business now. So where does geographical expansion, you know, into Europe or other areas sort of rank in terms of, you know, near-term priorities?
spk02: Right. Well, we use the word opportunistic when we talked about the development into some of these other countries. And what that means from our perspective, Greg, is that customers that we're doing business with in the U.S., customers that we're doing business with in Ireland have locations throughout Europe. And it's not a difficult leap for us to start servicing them in those countries. A little bit different than, you know, a strategic approach, you know, where we're going to, you know, conquer Europe with our NEXA services. So I think today it's opportunistic. It's part of our natural expansion. We're excited about it. And, you know, down the road when we think it becomes more strategic, you know, we'll talk to that. But right now we're pleased with the group's ability to service other parts of Europe.
spk00: Okay. Great. That's a lot.
spk02: Thanks. Appreciate the questions.
spk01: Thanks. Our next question comes from the line of Jerry Sweeney with Ross Capital. Please proceed with your question.
spk07: Good morning, Tom and Lee. Thanks for taking my call.
spk02: Good morning, Jerry.
spk07: Growth has been really good. And I mean, I think you even highlighted differentiated value to your customers. Can you give us a little bit more detail, you know, what's driving the growth, how you're really differentiating yourself, you know, where you differentiate yourself, but also, you know, where you're also seeing some competition, just trying to get a little bit better feel for the market, you know, and what's the geographic, obviously geographic expansion, service expansion, but just trying to dig in a little bit, if you would. Thank you.
spk02: Right. So I get the question. The game plan hasn't changed much, Jerry. You know, the depth and breadth of our services, you know, we think it's as good as any in the industry. We focused many, many years ago, you know, over a decade or so on the life sciences space because we thought the demographics were favorable. There's high barriers to entry, that space, but we got an early start. And so some of those early years back in 2009, 10, 11, when, you know, we didn't even have a positive operating income, they were big investment years, that turned out to be a really good decision. So now we've got a good running head start on the competition and some of those highly regulated spaces. We invested a lot into acquisitions to improve our geographic footprint, our capabilities. They all lead, they all drive towards differentiation as well. We've got different service buckets. You know, we handle small customers, transactional customers, midsize, large. Now one's both here and in Ireland, so we can enterprise accounts. I think that goes towards our value prop. And the thing that's always differentiated us in these highly regulated markets is our quality. We've always come in at the high end of the scale, the most expensive third-party vendor, at least that's what we think. And, but we provide services that's well aligned with our pricing. And so, you know, when customers need the best service from a quality perspective, I think they consider Transcat. And so that's a very important part of our value prop. All those things together are consistent with our plan for the last decade or so. And, you know, we're going to stick to it and keep getting stronger in terms of our value prop.
spk07: Got it. And what about next? How much of an opportunity is there for to cross-sell either their services into your 35,000 customers or even open up additional avenues? And sort of where are you on that process?
spk02: Yeah, well, we're good. You know, get the question. We're very early in the process. I mean, you know, two years or a year and three quarters is not a long time. Literally, after we acquired Nexa within the first quarter or so, we'd started seeing opportunities. We started winning some opportunities and we continued to do so. So it's just really, it's a good match for our company. When you look at the five or six service tracks that they offer, you look at the calibration services we offer, it's in the same ecosystem. It's with the same customer, in most cases with the same buyer. And so it's just a natural way for their company to grow by capitalizing, leveraging our customer base and vice versa. So I like the acquisition. I like the match. And I think the synergies are available to us to continue to grow. So we'll continue to execute the
spk07: plan. Qualitatively, I mean, adding a point or two to growth, do you think, with Nexa? Or as much as you can answer, I know you probably don't want to give up too much,
spk03: but yeah,
spk02: we won't get into details. But I think, you know, when we point to high single digits, obviously the better Nexa does and the better we're able to execute those synergies, the more likely we are to hit those targets over time. And like in this past year, we actually exceeded them a couple quarters. That's always good too. So this will keep us in our range of high single digits in the uncertainty with which we're working. I think Nexa gives us comfort level that, in part, that we'll be able to hit those targets.
spk07: Great. And then one or two more quick questions on the margin side. Would you remind, is Nexa, I apologize, would you remind me, Nexa's similar margin profile as the calibration side or better or worse?
spk05: So Jerry, it's Tom. You know, we've always, you know, pointed out that Nexa is, you know, their average margin is higher than our average, you know, total services margin for TransCat.
spk07: Okay, gotcha. And then obviously, I think in the past, you've really pointed to 35% gross margins as a target. I mean, you have operational excellence, automation. Is it safe to say we're looking at 35 in the next year or two, and then maybe we'll readjust and look at other improvements we can make internally?
spk02: Yeah, we still look at, you know, we ended the year, you know, right around 32%, a little bit higher than that. We still see 35 as sort of the next level of achievement in terms of margin gain. We think it's realistic. I don't want to put a timetable on it, whether it's a year or two or three, but, you know, it's in our relatively near future. We think it's achievable over the next year or so, a couple years, and then, you know, we'll get there. Yeah, just
spk05: to clarify that, services margin. Correct. This would be service. Oh,
spk07: yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Absolutely service, yeah. Gotcha. All right. Congrats on a great quarter, and thank you for taking my call.
spk02: We appreciate it. Thanks, Jerry.
spk01: Our next question comes from the line of Scott Buck with HC Wainwright. Please proceed with your question.
spk06: All right, good morning, guys. Thanks for taking my question. Can you talk a little bit about the rental business and the equipment sales side?
spk05: Sure, Scott, it's Tom. So, and again, as we've said in the past, the rental margin is significantly better than, you know, the overall distribution margin. We haven't gotten into details, you know, specifically, but it is significantly higher.
spk06: Okay, and Tom, of the capex numbers that you gave us for 2024, how much of that is for, you know, rental replacement and whatnot in that business? It's a quarter to
spk05: a third. Okay, that's helpful.
spk06: That's great. And I'm curious, guys, given the rise in interest rates, does that make you rethink or change the way you're thinking about the cap structure and your use of debt?
spk05: Yeah, I mean, it certainly does, right? And all you got to do is look at, you know, kind of what our interest expense has done over the past year and, you know, as you model it out in the future, right? So it's definitely something that we're looking at, we're talking about, and, you know, kind of evaluating all of our options around.
spk06: So I appreciate that. And then last one for me, just on M&A, curious what the appetite is for a larger, more transformational type deal. And even, you know, if there are opportunities like that on the calibration side currently.
spk02: Yes, Scott, this is Lee. You know, we are, you know, always interested and more than capable of acquiring, you know, larger companies. You know, we've got a strategy where, you know, we've got our three drivers that sort of dictate our -to-day focus, you know, geography and capabilities, expertise, bolt-ons, and the like. But, you know, something more transformative is always on our radar. And I think when we use the word diverse pipeline, you know, we're sort of guiding towards the fact that we're open to, you know, more transformative opportunities. There aren't that many out there, but they're out there and it's always something we're interested in. I think the company's ready, you know, if one presents itself. We certainly have the infrastructure to be able to acquire and integrate. So it's on our radar and, you know, we'll see.
spk06: All right. Appreciate that, guys. Thanks for the questions.
spk02: You got it. Thank you. Thank you, Scott.
spk01: Our next question comes from the line of Ted Jackson with Northland Securities. Please proceed with your question.
spk08: Thanks, Susan. I also would like to throw my congratulations in for a quarter and also a great fiscal year. Thank you, Ted. Thanks,
spk07: Tom. Yeah, so my
spk08: first question is kind of boring, but I'm just kind of going to talk about the balance sheet really quick. And, you know, there was a pretty good jump in, you know, working capital, mainly from, you know, receivables. I mean, inventory also, relative to my expectations, is a little higher.
spk01: And so, you
spk08: know, I mean, those things I look at free cash flow a lot and kind of wanted to have a, you know, a little bit of color provided maybe on what we could expect to see with regards to those line items as we roll through 24, I mean, excuse me, 23.
spk05: You know, I think, you know, we've talked about strategic buys in the past and, you know, that being, you know, something we're taking advantage of when we can, right? And that's really the driver to the inventory, you know, increase. And kind of talked about that quarter to quarter, you know, from an AR standpoint, I mean, it's just to some extent, it's a function of the growth that we've seen in the business and the timing of, you know, when billings take place within a quarter, there's nothing, you know, that to be concerned about there. It's just, you know, with working capital, there's cycles that we experience and nothing out of the norm and nothing inconsistent with what we've talked about
spk08: before. Oh, I don't have any concerns with it. I just kind of want to think about it, you know, say roll through. I mean, would we expect to see your symbols, you know, maybe kind of trend down as we roll through 24, hold steady? I mean, if we think about it from like a turn, turns or days basis, you know, I mean, kind of what are your thoughts with regards to that in particular?
spk05: I mean, I think we should expect AR to kind of grow with, you know, the increase in the business, you know, the overall percentage increase in the business. And, you know, inventory, I would expect to, you know, probably remain flat. You know, I think we do continue to see increases in pricing, which is going to have an impact. But I think some of the strategic buys, as we've talked about before, are going to kind of dry up on us, you know, this year. And then we'd expect to bring inventory down as a result of that.
spk08: Okay. And then just jumping over to just kind of a sort of a, I don't know, way to set expectations or set things with regards to the
spk07: current fiscal
spk08: year, you know, with the acquisition that you did in St. Louis, is there, can you provide maybe a little
spk01: more
spk08: color on how you think about first quarter revenue and the incorporation of that into the revenue mix for this current core?
spk03: Yeah, I think we'll
spk02: be able to achieve the growth targets that we've alluded to in the earnings release. The St. Louis acquisition is a pure bolt on, you know, they're within striking distance of our current lab. So there'll be some integration activities where we're going to put these two labs together. That makes a lot of sense. But I don't think we'll be able to achieve that in the first quarter. So I think we'll look at high single digits in that range. I think we'll be able to achieve that from service perspective.
spk08: We should think about like, I mean, he would provide any color kind of like, we'll be additive relative to, you know, first quarter by X million dollars or anything like that. There's no color or commentary around that you can provide.
spk02: No, we won't be adding any color like that, at least at this point.
spk08: Okay. Okay. And sorry for being so mellow. I woke up this morning with a horrible
spk00: cold.
spk08: Okay, then moving on. Moving over just on the distribution. Do you expect to see growth in your distribution business in 2024?
spk02: Well, you know, the way we look at distribution is the way we've looked at it for the last several years. And that is we've always wanted core distribution just to be a stable segment for us, you know, just to remind you, Ted and others, you know, we primarily use distribution as an opportunity to sort of crack open the door for service opportunities. It's an important differentiator for us. So every time we have a distribution order, you know, that oftentimes leads to a service opportunity. We expect that to continue. But it's never been our goal to grow distribution, you know, take it from roughly 70, $80 million to, you know, 100 million or 150. That's not our goal. It is our goal to grow our rental business. So and rentals falls under distribution. And that's had significant growth both in margin from gross profit perspective and revenue perspective. It moves the needle more on margin than revenue. But that is more strategic. So I'm going to say steady as she goes with core distribution, and you would expect growth in rentals, you know, over time.
spk08: Okay. And then my last question, which is a little more fun is, you know, with the Irish acquisition, you know, the thing that was exciting about it, sexy was the efforts they were making in terms of robotics and automation. And I know that's a kind of a slow burn kind of a long term opportunity, if you would for the company. But I was wondering if you could provide a little color on kind of things that are going on on that front, you know, efforts and successes and such. Thanks. Right.
spk02: Well, it is a slow burn. And I would characterize it as you know, being in the first inning. That's a good place to start. But just because you asked the question, we actually did install a couple robots in our Philadelphia lab that are related to mass calibrations, which is weight. And so they are up and running or working through the kinks. But yeah, we started the process. And so the key is looking at the disciplines that we perform work on and putting them in some logical order that makes sense from a robotics perspective. And they continue to develop that technology over time. But I think the characterizing as the first inning is important. There's a lot of work to be done. It's more of a longer term play. And so when we get to those mid single digits in our service margins, the next year or so, a couple years, then we'll start talking about robotics somewhere down the road, I'm sure.
spk08: Okay. And again, congrats in the quarter. It was a really nice, nice print.
spk02: Appreciate it. Hope you feel better to take care.
spk01: And our next question comes from the line of Mitra Ramgopal with Siddoti. Please proceed with your question.
spk03: Yes. Hi, good morning. And thanks for taking the questions. First, just on the service segment. I know it's being driven by the life science industry in particular, just curious if you're seeing growth from any of the other areas that might get you excited, whether it's aerospace, energy, chemicals, industrial, anything that might accelerate the growth in this segment.
spk02: Yeah, most of our growth and the low 60 percentile range is where we see life sciences, but we have had growth as well, Mitra, in aerospace and defense. Our pipeline has some interesting aerospace and defense opportunities in it. There's been a little bit of growth as well in general manufacturing. So it is sort of broad based once you get outside of the concentration that we naturally have in life sciences, which is pharma, biomedical, medical device, you start the next ranking down would probably be aerospace and defense and in general, make chemical and some alternative energy as well as in there. Yeah,
spk04: that's what I was going to say. This is Mark Mitra. Our wind energy business has actually picked up a little bit in the recent quarters. And so there's pockets of activity. We haven't talked a lot about the pipettes business, which is life science as well. But that's also a platform that's continuing to grow nicely and supporting our organic growth that's been strong recently. Great.
spk03: Okay. No, that's great. And then just digging a little deeper in terms of the biotech space, the number of biotech companies having difficulty given the capital markets currently, etc. Just wondering if you're seeing any slowdown in that area.
spk02: You know, when we think of bio, we think of biomedical. You know, we do a lot. We do a hospital business that came many years ago through an expanded addressable market with the spectrum acquisition. And that business has performed well over the last year and continues to grow. And that's where we focus our energy on. As far as biotechs and the development of that, smaller market for us. So we haven't been impacted much.
spk03: Okay. Thanks. And then, Lee, I know one of the things you're excited by in terms of the investments you're making, Transcat University, so to speak, just wanted to get an update on that in relation to the investments, etc. When do you expect to really see that paying off for you?
spk02: Well, it continues to progress. This time last year, I think we had 50 students that had been put through the program. I think we're upwards to about 100 now, which is great news for us. And the original 50 are more productive than they were, as you can imagine, Mitra, in the first couple quarters that we put them out into the field after the initial training. So, you know, we're scaling that. It's a competitive advantage for us if we do it right. It took a long time to get that program up and running, but we're pleased with where we are. And the large percentage of the lion's share of the people who have been through school are still with us. So we're getting good retention rates. That's just as important as getting them through, as keeping them progressing, you know, in their careers here with Transcat. So I think it's good news on that front.
spk03: Okay. Thanks. And then finally, just on M&A, obviously you have an active pipeline and a lot of opportunities out there, but we're just wondering in light of NEXA, etc., if you're more willing to maybe consider M&A activity outside of the U.S. than maybe you might have been willing to do in the past.
spk02: You know, I think that day will come, but generally speaking, our focus has been on the U.S. primarily. I mean, we did a small acquisition in the calibration space in Ireland after NEXA, and it's not like we wouldn't be able to do something like that in the near future. But if you look at the pipeline, you want to characterize it by, it's geographic impact, 95% of it's in the U.S. And I see that as, that's pretty much what our intent is, and I see that not changing anytime soon. We'll certainly add some color to it if that changes, but right now we're mostly U.S. focused with our acquisition strategy.
spk03: Okay. Thanks for taking the questions.
spk02: Appreciate the questions.
spk01: Thanks. Okay. We have reached the end of the question and answer session. I'll now turn the call back over to Lee Rudeau for closed remarks.
spk02: Thank you all for joining us on today's call. We appreciate the questions. We appreciate the continued interest in Transcap. We'll be presenting at the Craig Hallam Investor Conference in Minneapolis on May 31st, so feel free to check in with us there. Otherwise, you can check in with us anytime. We look forward to talking to everybody again after our first quarter results. Hope everybody has a nice Memorial Day, and again, thanks for participating. Take care.
spk01: And this concludes today's conference, and you may disconnect your lines at this time. Thank you for your participation.

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