Meet the Team: Steve NeesNovember 15, 2021
As Transparent Energy continues to grow and attract new talent, we look forward to putting the spotlight on the great people, old and new, that make this company thrive. Today, we’re happy to introduce one of our newest hires, 25-year energy-industry veteran, Steve Nees, Business Development Manager (BDM).
Steve, it’s great to have you on board at Transparent Energy as a senior BDM. You bring to Transparent Energy a very rich background in energy procurement and energy advisory. Give us a few of the highlights.
It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been in the energy business now for more than 25 years, and I still absolutely love it.
I began in business development at Public Service Conservation Resources Corporation (PSCRC), where I worked on the sale and implementation of energy efficiency projects as part of a large-scale, long-term efficiency rebate program run by PSE&G. We were a small and growing firm, so there was lots of opportunity, and I had some great mentors who continually exposed me to new disciplines and areas of growth within the business, providing the type of guidance that assured success. As I gained experience, I got to wear many hats from “front of the office” to the “back” on my way to eventually managing a portfolio of contract-based performing assets valued at approximately $120 million, ultimately marketing it to the investment community and receiving offers in our target range.
Along the way, we merged with two other companies, forming Energis Resources, and as we continued to grow we acquired 13 more as the juggernaut known as PSEG Energy Technologies, where I worked successfully as a BDM, Product Manager, and Investment Manager, eventually attaining the role of Director of Business Development. I had the great experience of working through the entire growth cycle of a large energy services company (ESCO), starting in a firm with about 25 people that evolved into one employing several thousand!
What a ride! We had a vision of becoming the country’s top ESCO and provided a one-stop-shop energy management experience for our customers, offering just about every service available.
I bring this up, because I know firsthand how being an energy services “generalist,” a company that does “everything” for a client from changing the light bulbs to procuring energy and paying the utility bills can sometimes sound better than it really is. Services like these do offer convenience, but they can’t deliver the value an energy-procurement specialist like Transparent Energy can. But hold that thought.
So, as I mentioned before, I worked at PSEG Energy Technologies for seven years. Yes, I was a BDM, managing sales and developing great relationships with large corporate clients. But I also got involved in the structural growth of our business, developing an expertise in financial modeling, channel partner development, energy efficiency auditing, and contract negotiations. I also had the opportunity to manage a small team and at one point launched a customer-care department for a segment of the business.
Looking back over this early part of my career, I realize I learned so much because I did so much, and all that experience sets you up well to advise clients and develop deep, lasting relationships with them. I got a well-rounded sense of perspective for front-of-the-meter and behind the meter issues, as well as a deep understanding of supplier, utility and client drivers that has enabled me to help clients navigate through the procurement process very effectively, making the most of the opportunities at hand.
Where did you go next?
After PSEG Energy Technologies, I landed a BDM role at Direct Energy that lasted more than a decade. At Direct Energy, I developed an A-list portfolio of some of America’s leading Fortune 500 brands, helping them procure electricity and natural gas across deregulated service territories, with a focus on PJM and New York. I also built a great book of business through our indirect channel, i.e. our channel partners, which got me very familiar with the merits of auction-based procurement. I had an amazing run at Direct Energy and deepened my understanding of how to attract and retain large C&I and Institutional customers while there.
What do you consider your keys to success in the energy business?
I’ve learned a lot in my 25 years in this industry, and it really boils down to how best to serve the customer. So how do I do that? I work very hard to understand the energy markets and take the important extra step of understanding them through the eyes of my clients and prospects. That means identifying the risks and opportunities specific to the customer’s business and being able to articulate them in a way that makes sense to their decision makers and energy and operations managers.
Communicating the risks and opportunities in the complex and volatile world of energy in an easy-to-understand way is critical, and then taking that one step further to deliver actionable advice that mitigates those risks is key. So it’s a balancing act. On the one hand, I need to understand energy markets at a deeply technical level. On the other, I need to make recommendations in a way that my audience can understand and feel good about it.
I’m pretty good at it. When you do this and do it well, your clients believe in you and trust you. And the more you do that with them, the deeper the trust goes. In my final years at Direct Energy, I had the top client renewal rates in the company, topping 95%.
With all of this energy-industry experience, why did you decide to join the team at Transparent Energy?
As a BDM at both a leading ESCO and a leading energy supplier, I know a lot about what works for customers and what doesn’t. Put another way, I know where value is created, and I see a lot of value being created by Transparent Energy’s online-auction platform and the people and processes surrounding it.
The price discovery and price compression provided by Transparent Energy’s online auctions are best-in-class. When I’m in front of a client or prospect, I want to know I can add value to their procurement. With Transparent Energy, I have the best tool in the market to deliver my client the best price in the market.
But my decision to join Transparent Energy didn’t just rest on a platform. I liked the people. I saw what Dustin, Paul, and Luke had built, and it’s an organization with talent at every level, in every department, laser-focused on getting the best results for its clients. That’s the kind of organization I want to be in, particularly at this stage in my career.
Any parting advice for the next generation of BDAs, sales reps, and BDMs?
Yes. Always maintain your credibility. Be open and honest with your clients and prospects, and make sure you understand the energy markets from their perspective. Do more than understand what’s happening in energy: simplify it and bring that clarity home to your client.
That’s my approach, and it has helped me develop an amazing book of business, wonderful and long-lived client relationships, and a reputation built on trust that I am proud to bring to Transparent Energy.