It was 113 years ago that George Scarr Hall, and industrial blacksmith, first struck hot metal in Stoke-on-Trent, England. With an anvil, hammer, furnace and steel tubes, his company made straps to go around bottle ovens.
After several spikes and dips that came with two World Wars and the Great Depression, Ian Scarr Hall, took over the family business 21 years ago, taking it far beyond any dreams his grandfather may have ever had. Today, the George S. Hall Group has 2,000 employees and revenues of $450 million worldwide.
The company expanded to the United States 12 years ago, with several mechanical maintenance contracts with Gale and Wentworth in Chicago.
During the past decade, it has found a successful niche in energy management for its clients, which accounts for half of the company’s $40 million in revenue in the United States.
GSH president Jamie Reynolds shared some thoughts on his companies growing business.
Q. How did you arrive at this business model called energyplus?
A. We developed energyplus a decade ago by listening to the needs of the real estate marketplace and the societal pressures affecting the industry.
We knew that our clients wanted to improve the energy efficiency in their buildings, but did not have the funds to do so. The energyplus concept is simple — GSH carries out energy saving projects in the client’s facility and the costs of these projects are financed through the energy savings.
And because GSH pays the utility bill directly (the client pays GSH at a guaranteed reduced rate which is agreed before the projects are carried out), there is no risk to the client.
Q. How much money can you save a company with energyplus?
A. On average we reduce carbon emissions between 15 and 35 percent per facility. We carry out projects like lighting upgrades, installing or recommissioning building management systems, adding window tints, and upgrading old, inefficient equipment in order to achieve the energy savings.
Our energy solutions never cost the client a penny. Through our Maximo computerized system, our clients are able to see their energy usage and their actually utility bills. We operate over $110 million in energyplus contracts, managing energy for 142 million-square-feet of property saving $22 million and 144,403 tons of carbon emissions.
Q. Who is your biggest success story?
A. The financial markets where we have accounts with some of the largest banking institutions in the world, such as National Australia Bank Group and Santander Group.
GSH also has had success with many large real estate companies, including Newmark Knight Frank and Mountain Development Corp., to whom we provide energy management services for a total of 10 buildings in the Tri-State area.
Q. What are the top ways companies can reduce energy consumption?
A. Basically three ways: eliminate waste, optimize current mechanical equipment and identify capital improvement projects. It is also important to continually monitor the facility’s energy usage because a facility can quickly fall into inefficient mode as changes in the building’s occupancy or weather occur.
We remotely monitor our clients’ facilities every 15 minutes to ensure optimal efficiency out of our Pine Brook headquarters. After business hours, our Energy and Controls Bureau in the U.K. carries out the monitoring, and with the five-hour time difference, they can start up our clients’ facilities before we start our day.
Q. Why did you choose Pine Brook for your U.S. headquarters?
A. GSH’s business expanded abroad to the U.S., starting in Chicago, following our relationship with Gale and Wentworth. They also had a significant portfolio in Northern New Jersey and GSH decided to set up shop here because of the heavy concentration of real estate in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.
Q. What is GSH’s expansion strategy?
A. GSH Group’s vision is to be a $5 billion company with half of its business outside of the U.K. by expanding in the U.S., but also into developing regions of the world such as China, South America and India, which are becoming major energy users. GSH has just completed its record year as a Group exceeding $450 million in revenue, with profits up 21 percent.