How We Build a Winning Guaranteed Energy Savings Team

by | Oct 11, 2022 | Employee Spotlight

We are a relatively new company in a relatively new market (guaranteed energy savings.) You might think that building a team in this environment would be a challenge. However, over the last year, we’ve found it’s a challenge that pays off in dividends if you do it the right way.

Team building is equal parts strategy and intuition. However, the glue that binds those two concepts is empathy, which is to say, you need to treat newcomers as equals, give them a leg up when necessary, and have the patience to allow them to emerge as the veteran engineers they will one day become. Team building is a process of cultivation; it’s doing many things in the short term to benefit in the long term.

Teams Are Built One Mind at a Time

We asked two of our newest team members, Nathan Howell and Alec Golightly, Performance Engineers to share their perspectives with us. After all, they embody our culture and ethos; bring in young talent, foster their discovery and learning, and value their perspectives along the way.

“I went to the University of Kentucky at the Paducah campus, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering,” explains Alec. “A classmate and close friend of mine introduced me to the idea of applying to a part-time position with AFP and they also helped me get the ball rolling here with Russ Litsinger.

It wasn’t until my conversations with Russ that I realized I had multiple previous relationships with people associated with BFW/Marcum, a sister company of AFP. It made me feel like both firms were ingrained in the community.”

Nathan had a similar experience; while getting his BS in Mechanical Engineering, he was tipped off by a peer who had experience with AFP and knew they were hiring for a part-time position.

You might have noticed a trend; we value our relationships with our community members and value the regional colleges that cultivate the engineering talent which keeps us on our toes. Without these connections, we might never have found Nathan and Alec in the first place.

Our Emergent Industry Gives Us an Advantage

The concept of the Guaranteed Energy Savings Company (GESC) business model was new to Nathan. “In our school, it seemed that most students had next to no knowledge of the GESC model. I had not been informed on the subject until a friend explained it to me before I was offered this job.”

The same is true for Alec. “From our smaller campus, it did not seem that many had heard of the GESC model before, I do believe this field is very much an emerging industry, and more and more people every day are impacted and introduced to what we do.”

Nathan and Alec are both correct; guaranteed energy savings and even the technologies that drive facility-wide energy efficiency are emergent industries. The technology has been with us for a couple of decades, but like all modern advances, it takes some time before a system is streamlined enough to become mainstream. We’re pioneers of this industry, especially in our region, and the challenges of leading the fray come with plenty of advantages.

For one, we’re creating our own playbook, so to speak. This also means we can hire young engineers like Nathan and Alec and give them the freedom to bring more of themselves to the job. In many ways, we’re all new to this. It levels the playing field, allows us to be more creative, and humbles some of us old guard who think we’ve seen it all.

We Invest in Our People from Day One

Whether you’re an intern, a part-timer, or a full-timer, we’ll treat you as a member of our family. We follow this philosophy because we understand the potential that everyone has within them. Treating you any differently than a member of our family only serves to stifle your talent and potential. For that reason, we’re quick to invest in talent when we see it. We asked both Nathan and Alec for their perspectives on their transition from part-time student employees to full-time engineers at AFP.

Nathan was thankful for the timing as well as the affirmation. “Receiving an offer to work full-time at AFP was exciting, to say the least. It was also a relief. At a time of economic hardship throughout the country, being offered a job working with respectable, trustworthy individuals made my future seem much brighter.”

Alec adds, “Being offered a full-time position, especially before your senior year is even complete, it’s quite incredible. Having all that stress and worry lifted off your shoulders and knowing that when graduation comes there will be no downtime, just straight to the engineering life was a great feeling.

It is a hard feeling to describe, for my entire life I have only known going to school and part-time jobs. Now, to have a full-time position where I can make a name for myself in the GESC industry is truly special.”

Our Team Can Develop, Evolve, & Experiment

Engineers are like sharks; hear us out on this one! A shark must keep moving in the water. Their gills require a constant flow of water to breathe. If they stand still, they’ll run out of oxygen. So, too, must an engineer keep moving lest they lose the spark that is their lifeblood, innovation. Engineers are an inquisitive bunch. If they lose their curiosity, they lose the essence of the engineer.

All this talk of sharks and lifeblood is meant to say one thing; we thrive on continuing the development, evolution, and thrill of experimentation in our teammates. One of the best ways to foster this culture is by hiring young talent. Young engineers fill a necessary opening in the engineering ecosystem; they bring a fresh perspective, but they also compel the veterans among us to share our wisdom and even learn new tricks ourselves. This back-and-forth sharing of knowledge acts as a crucible; it creates new and unknown innovation.

We asked Alec and Nathan what they hope to bring to the GESC industry. Alec is a people person, “I think my personability gives me an edge, as I can already tell this position will require lots of communication and networking. Having lots of experience with that from past employments and my character, I really feel that networking and building all these relationships is my favorite part of the job and the place for me to leave a lasting impact of respect and professionalism.”

Nathan intends to help us with streamlining many of our processes. “I greatly enjoy the world of automation and have been using my programming skills to assist in some of the more computational assignments required for the completion of various stages of projects. By doing this, I hope that the company will be able to achieve its highest level of productivity without being required to expend as many resources on spreadsheet development.”

As you can see, Nathan and Alec are already hard at work thinking about how they can bring something unique to AFP. They embody the ethos of engineering; there is no one way of doing things, and you can always do things better.