Aug 29 2022
Episode 9: Al Subbloie
Pay attention to this episode, cleantechers, because it’s a good one. As our readers know, we designed the Scaling Clean podcast to bring you management and leadership wisdom from experienced company leaders. We’ve got a heavily experienced growth company CEO for you in this episode who is lighting up the traditionally workhorse energy-efficiency sector.
But first, a bit of context; the climate destruction crisis keeps accelerating, and yet here in the U.S. we waste an astounding 40% of all the electricity we generate. We can and should – build a lot of renewable energy capacity. But if we keep wasting nearly half of what we produce, we’re not going to move the American economy onto a more sustainable footing.
That’s why those who are driving outcomes in the workhorse sector of energy efficiency are some of the unsung leaders of the clean economy. And today I get to talk with one of those leaders who is avowedly out to build a profitable company and “save the world” from energy waste by eliminating the friction in energy efficiency.
Al Subbloie is the CEO of the energy efficiency as a service company, Budderfly, based in Shelton, Connecticut. Budderfly has 125 employees operating in 49 states with a growth rate of well over 50% for this year. And this is the third company Al’s built.
As Al describes it, he “starts companies, and then runs them for a long time.”
That’s why I know you’ll find this episode rich in lessons on how to build and run dynamic cleantech companies.
5:05 – Boss vs. leaders, and why leaders drive better growth companies. Bosses
manages tasks to a specific outcome, a leader develops and hold the vision.
8:26 – There are huge differences in running a clean economy company,
because you’re not just trying to drive a company’s profits, but also save the
world with the same pace as building the company. That’s an enrolling vision,
that makes it easier to lead a team because they have a shared vision.
11:10 – Energy efficiency is a neglected, but profitable opportunity because no
one measures energy waste over roughly 45 different things that a building’s
owner can do. Each requires the owner writing a check, the reward for which is a
utility bill, which is a poorly designed ROI document.
13:43 – The growth-oriented CEO is a leader who sets vision, builds a team to
executes, then communicates a lot to several core constituencies, including
board members, investors, customers and employees.
17:41 – The energy sector has “awesome” macro dynamics, something you
should look for but are hard to steer or influence.
19:32 – How multiple interviews of a candidate help with hiring for skills and
cultural alignment, because the combination makes growth much more efficient.
And cultures last a long time. Al asks candidates: “What drives you” to test for
23:52 – You’ll always take longer to fire someone than you should have.
29:31 – Energy efficiency is a $250B business opportunity.