Originally published in the NEWS by Nicole Krawcke on March 20, 2017
Since it was founded in 2011, Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based Allied Energy Efficiency Experts has completed approximately 5,000 comprehensive Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) projects in New Jersey and Delaware. The company completed 1,695 HPwES projects in 2015 alone, causing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to name it the 2016 Energy Star Contractor of the Year.
According to Energy Star, HPwES helps homeowners save up to 30 percent on their energy bills by having energy-efficient upgrades installed in their homes by Building Performance Institute Inc. (BPI) GoldStar contractors. Homeowners who are able to save 25 percent or more energy usage in New Jersey are eligible for rebates up to $4,000 in addition to 0 percent interest repayment options. To qualify, homeowners must first receive an energy assessment by a qualifying contractor.
The HVAC, plumbing, and weatherization company is dedicated to providing homeowners with the right solutions to improve the health, safety, comfort, and efficiency of their homes.
MAN WITH A PLAN
Will Doyle, 29, is the president and co-owner of Allied Energy and runs the day-to-day operations of the company. Owning and operating a business at a young age comes with a lot of responsibility, he said.
“My grandfather was a master plumber and ran a large mechanical contracting firm for a number of years. I looked up to him,” Doyle said. “So I attended Drexel University for entrepreneurship and happened to be in a business planning class around the time of President Obama’s inauguration. His focus on the campaign trail was energy efficiency, and while I wasn’t sure what type of energy efficiency I wanted to get into, I knew I wanted to research it. So, I created a business plan and started on a much smarter scale doing the weatherization portion of it.”
In late 2011, Doyle merged his weatherization and energy auditing company, Potential Energy, with Allied Energy.
“When I started, I didn’t even know I could do the mechanical contracting business part of it,” he said. “But, I quickly realized that being just in the insulation business was not going to get me where I wanted to be. So, Allied Energy offered that mechanical portion of what they did, I offered the home-performance part, and we went from there. We became solely focused on Home Performance with Energy Star and became one of the largest HPwES contractors in the country.”
Currently, the company operates completely in the residential market, but Doyle hopes to diversify and branch out to the commercial and industrial markets in the near future.
Allied Energy serves nine counties in mostly southern New Jersey. Additionally, the company has grown from 10 employees at the time of the merger to 80 employees in 2017 with 38 fleet vehicles. The company’s revenue in 2016 was about $13 million.
In addition to being named Energy Star Contractor of the Year, Allied Energy has also received the Century Club Award from the DOE and EPA as well as a few dealer awards from manufacturers. The company also belongs to ACCA and Electric & Gas Industries Association (EGIA).
“We look at ourselves as an energy-efficiency company that happens to do mechanical work,” Doyle said. “We typically save homes 25 percent or more in energy usage. So, for every four homes we service, and we do about four homes a day, one house goes off the grid. We’ve significantly reduced the energy needs here in New Jersey.
“We also have a very strict code of ethics to make sure we do right by homeowners on every job,” he continued. “We go beyond just replacing equipment or installing insulation; we solve problems at the root. We’re doing it right by looking at the home systematically to reduce the bills while, at the same time, making it more comfortable and a much better place for them to live.”
A PURPOSEFUL CULTURE
John Kane, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the company, met Doyle at Drexel University. In fact, he was in that very same business planning class and helped him draw up the business plan for Potential Energy.
“At the time, I was on a different path going for more of a technical degree,” Kane said. “I ended up changing my direction and working for a large contractor in the industry. But what they were doing was not the way I saw this industry going, so I ended up reaching out to Will and asking how everything was going with his company. He said they were doing well and had just gone through a merger. We had a few conversations over a couple of weeks, and he invited me to come on board. So, I jumped from the big giant to the little guy because I thought it was the right model.”
That was five years ago, and Kane hasn’t looked back.
“My favorite thing about this company is its culture,” he said. “It’s a company that is built on purpose. You don’t hear people out there, even on the sales team, talking about money. This is an industry that is not fully established. People don’t know what to call us sometimes — we’re an HVAC company to some and an energy-efficiency company to others. We have a mission in front of us to build an industry. It’s kind of like civilizing the Wild West, if you would. There are very few towns here, and we’re trying to build a society.
“Everyone here understands there’s a mission to their jobs and why they do what they do. I think they carry a sense of the greater good with it. The decisions made by the employees who work here are not based on, ‘Well, it’s my job,’ but on, ‘This is my purpose,’ and that is big.”
The employees also have fun together, Kane noted. “We do things that make it fun to come to work. I don’t think anyone feels like they’re showing up to go to the job. We have an intramural basketball team. We will be having a sales versus operations game soon. It’s a let’s-work-hard-together, let’s-have-fun-together mentality. And Will is the heart of that culture, sincerely. He believes in teamwork. He often says, ‘I don’t have to be the all-star, I just want to be on the winning team,’ and he practices what he preaches.”
Joe Diaz, director of the weatherization and service division for Allied Energy, has been with the company for more than four years.
“I was previously working for a weatherization company, and I was transitioning,” Diaz said. “I had a mutual friend who made me aware of Allied and some of the things its team was doing in the home-performance area of the industry. I made my way over out of pure interest, and I ended up staying.”
Diaz said it was the overall, unique platform of the way the company operated that drew his interest and made him stay.
“It was a program that a lot of companies weren’t running successfully, but Allied was really excelling at it,” he said. “Additionally, it’s a great culture in the sense that everybody’s jobs lead into the mix. Everybody is invested in the next man’s development. Whether you’re in sales, mechanical, or weatherization, depending on where the last person leaves the job at, it impacts your job. Everyone here works really well together. We have good chemistry and a lot of hardworking employees. People just have a general interest in moving everything forward.”
According to Doyle, Allied Energy is unique in the fact that most of its clients are found through referrals or door-to-door canvassing.
“We’re fully educating homeowners on almost every piece of home performance,” he said. “We’re taking equipment that is already working in the home and replacing it with more energy-efficient equipment, that way we’re not really waiting for customers to experience breakdowns. We really have to educate them and explain why it’s important to use this program because they’re usually not in desperate need for new equipment.”
Doyle said he also doesn’t typically worry about competition because there are very few businesses that offer what his company does, which is, of course, a completely customizable solution for each and every home.
“We sit down with each homeowner, layout our process, and interview them to find out if their homes will even qualify for the program,” he explained. “If they don’t save a minimum of 20 percent in energy savings, they don’t qualify. We will come out and do a full 10-page energy assessment on the whole home and collect a copy of their utility bills in order to get an accurate savings target. Even if a person’s home might be the same size as the one across the street, it doesn’t necessarily mean both homes are using energy the same way. We then bring all of that information back to our office, where we have an entire staff who specializes in modeling the correct solutions. We always start off with a Manual J to figure out the proper equipment size. Then we do a Manual S, which allows us to choose the proper equipment for the home. Then we enter the utility bills and all the information we collected from the home into energy modeling software that allows us to figure out how much energy they would save along with the correct things to do in the home.”
Approximately 95 percent of Allied Energy’s projects are completed in just one day.
“Homeowners have always been impressed that we get the work done very quickly,” Doyle said. “We don’t subcontract any of our work. By keeping it all in house, scheduling it correctly, and knowing what we have to do, we can get it done all in one day.”
Diaz said every project receives a whole-home approach.
“We’re not aiming to simply sell a product. We try to solve the homeowner’s problems and find some type of resolution for them in their everyday living. They have a more comfortable home when we’re done.”
BUILDING A FUTURE
Both Doyle and Kane have plans to continue growing Allied Energy by expanding and diversifying its offerings in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.
“Right now, we’re an energy-efficiency company that does HVAC,” Doyle said. “I’m hoping to one day become a full-scale mechanical contractor that focuses on energy efficiency.”
Being in the energy-efficiency business, Doyle admitted the days following the 2016 presidential election were a concern. However, after a few conversations with his peers, he quickly came to grips with a few things.
“We were recently approved by the DOE to offer the Home Energy Score,” Doyle said. “We’re among the first contractors in the country approved to offer it,” Doyle noted. “Mostly, it was utilities and government agencies who offered it previously. It’s like a miles per gallon rating given to homes, ranking them from one to 10. The city of Portland [Oregon] is the first city that will require a Home Energy Score on the sale of a house beginning Jan. 1, 2018. It’s very similar to automobiles. Certain people want Tahoes but know they’ll only get 16 miles to the gallon. On the flip side, a Prius gets something like 58 mpg. Similar to that, people will soon know the energy-efficiency statistics on homes before they ever consider buying them.
“And, in talking to DOE, they said it’s not going away,” he continued. “Homes don’t just benefit from energy efficiency, which might not be the current administration’s focus, but they benefit significantly by being more comfortable, healthy, and safe. We’re just really focused on making a difference for each and every home we touch.”
Publication date: 3/20/2017