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A CHAT WITH AL COLVIN, FOUNDER OF NRG MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS

 

al-colvin-nrg

Al Colvin is the founder of NRG (Energy) Management Solutions,Inc. is an electrical contractor company that provides electrical services for commercial and industrial construction projects.

1.    Describe the mission of NRG Management? 

Our mission is to provide our employees with an honest and helpful working environment, where every employee, individually and collectively, can dedicate themselves to providing our customers with exceptional workmanship, extraordinary service, and professional integrity.  We will strive to implement a long term relationship with our clients based on safety, quality, timely service and an anticipation of their needs.

2.    What inspired you to start NRG Management Solutions? 

Well, I had an opportunity to start the company as a vendor to one of the largest electrical distribution companies in the world; however, once they realized the amount of revenue that could be generated by self-performing start-ups and commissioning, it was brought back in-house.  I, then, ventured into new construction and the rest is history.

3.    What makes NRG Management Solutions unique and different than other electrical contracting firms? 

We care about people first.  This is a culture that starts with the company and emanates outwardly to all of our customers.  I want EVERYONE to feel important and appreciated.

4.    Are you a Nashville native? 

No, I am originally from Ohio but have been in Nashville off and on for almost 21 years.  Transferring to TSU (Tennessee State University) was the reason for coming to the Music City, but I fell in love with the Southern hospitality and felt as though this was a stable environment to raise children.

5.    Electrical contracting is a specialized field that is very important for any construction project; could you describe a typical on the job day? 

We start off the day with a safety briefing, because I want everyone to return home in the same condition in which they came.  Afterward, there is an assessment of job status as it relates to scheduling as well as checking for material and tooling needs for the upcoming days.  We are always trying to be proactive instead of reactive. 

6.    How long has your company been in the NBIC program?

We are going into our 3rd year at the NBIC.

7.    Could you share 3 things you love about NBIC that others may not know? 

  • The staff has been excellent throughout our tenure.  They are all dedicated to the growth, development and overall success of the companies in the program.
  • NBIC has enabled us to enroll in free business development opportunities through various entities such as MNAA and SBA.  These programs are invaluable for businesses looking for sustainable growth.
  • Lower rent helps companies maintain lower overhead in order to be more competitive in the market place and save money for their own facility upon graduation from the program.

8.    Is there one business resource or tip you would give to readers just starting out in their business?

A popular misconception amongst people wanting to start a business is thinking since you are able to perform the work, you are able to run a business.  Unless you understand how to operate a business, you are going to find it extremely difficult to grow and sustain your business without the right assistance.  The NBIC has helped me tap into various resources in order to grow exponentially.

9.    Is there one significant win you have received over the last 6 months to a year that you would be up for sharing with the NBIC community?

Over the first year at the NBIC, I was fortunate enough to generate revenue through another business and as a result the electrical company suffered.  Angela Crane-Jones personally challenged me to put more effort into the electrical and I accepted.  This year we have already surpassed sales from all of our previous years combined.

10.  Lastly, what can Music City expect from NRG Management Solutions in 2017?

We are steadily looking for ways to improve our employee and customer experience.  I want the company to be better than the day before and never allow success to make us comfortable.

A Client Story | Michelle Perry, Founder of Emerald Resource

Michelle Perry is the founder of Emerald Resource, an electrical low voltage contractor that designs, engineers and installs customized telecommunications networks including Telephone Systems, Audio Visual, VTC, CCTV, Access Control, and ISP/OSP Cabling and Fiber solutions to meet standard and enhanced telecommunication services. In layman terms, this veteran, woman-owned business is responsible for bringing power, light, and communications to buildings and communities across the state of TN and beyond. The amazing part is that Emerald Resource started out as a technology staffing firm! So, now you are wondering how do they go from a staffing firm to a major player in the electrical contracting space….they capitalized on the opportunities given. Michelle’s story is really one that shows no matter what you put your mind to, you can definitely achieve it.  Check out her story below and how her Nashville Business Incubation Center membership is currently taking her business to the next level.

Tell us how you started Emerald Resource? 

I was an IT recruiter for a fortune 500 company. The organization just went through the whole Y2k fiasco and began making internal changes along with purchasing companies from overseas. By 2003, I had enough and turned in my notice, however, they were determined not to let me go for 6 months so I worked so many hours during this period. After this time, I started getting back to me and what made me happy. Then, Thanksgiving rolls around and my Mom was like “what are you going to do” and I was like “Well, maybe I will just start my own company.” I received a check from my Grandmother that Christmas for $5,000, I also received calls from old clients during this time needing referrals for their business needs. I realized people needed to pay me for my advice and started my company at the beginning of 2004.

Your aha moment?

It started after receiving my first staffing opportunity with Beacon Technologies, a telecom business also at the Nashville Business Incubation Center.  I meet with the owner when he needed a proposal written but he didn’t want to pay it for it. In exchange, he agreed to give me a percentage of the job if they won (and they did!).  During the time working with Beacon Technologies, I got to learn what they did and gleaned basic knowledge. Having an undergraduate degree in Finance and my MBA I was able to see opportunity in spite of my lack of on-the-job electrical contracting experience. I knew I could build teams and provide the business acumen to make money.  Fast track to 2008, when I landed my first federal contract on the implementation side and I have grown sustainably ever since.

 

So, what has your growth entailed from the type of clients to number of employees? 

Well, in 2009 I moved to NBIC, and this was really the jump start I needed to begin meeting new contacts to help go after the right jobs. Our client list now includes: Department of the Army, Department of Energy, Department of the Air Force, Department of Forest Service, TN Army National Guard and the Air National Guard to name a few. We have also grown from a team of three to now 25 employees.

You mentioned that NBIC is playing a role in the growth of your company. For those entrepreneurs considering NBIC right now, what three things are you loving about your experience thus far?  

 

  1. Brainstorming and Ideation: The ability to walk in and bounce ideas off other business owners and the NBIC team is great. I’m a little different, I have ideas that I know could make money and Angela Jones is like my sounding board. I can schedule time to meet with her and get out all the things I have in my head. It is great to get out your thoughts out so you can then re-focus. Many times, Angela will listen, talk through the idea with me and then help me to not forget my core goals and the best way to stay on track. For me it comes down to the guidance, refocusing me and given me the opportunity to voice my ideas. They may not always come to fruition, but at least I had a knowledgeable source there to listen.
  1. Comraderie: At NBIC, every company is different but we all face many of the same problems, from logistics, cash flow, etc. I can recall on several occasions, taking a coffee break outside and sharing almost identical stories with another electrical manufacturing company that is also in the program.
  1. Processes, Processes, Processes: So, I already had Quickbooks but I did not have the other operational processes in place. I didn’t have an employee handbook and standard operating procedures for example. To be honest, I didn’t think they were necessary at the time. I was trying to run the business and bring in sales. However, the day came where I needed these processes in place. It was more painful to stop then and get it handled.

 

In such a male-dominated industry, do you notice any resistance from clients or counterparts?

Yea, I have a lot less now, however I am not going to lie. I just always remember, I did this on my own and can continue to push through any obstacle.

I could imagine your schedule is very demanding, how do you manage your work/life balance?

That’s one area I don’t do so well in.  I am a single Mom, and when I started in 2004, my daughter was 14. There was private school, extracurricular activities and it was difficult for the first the couple of years until she got a drivers license. However, with me having my own company, it has instilled in her a great work ethic as she was able to work on job sites during the summer.

I would say I still have to work on mastering the work-life balance but I love what I do, so it doesn’t feel like work.

Lastly, what’s next for Emerald Resource?

Stay fully staffed, fully busy and getting in more specialty projects, like our recent large excavation job.  I will also be obtaining my general contractor license. I have always wanted to erect my own building and I am on my way to doing so.