The Silicon Review
In 1978, Congress launched a program opening a free market in the energy sector, ending an entrenched virtual monopoly nearly a century old. In 1986, Allan Brenner returned to his native, Long Island, to support his wife’s family business—a third-generation heating oil company. There, Allan noticed an unsettling trend among heating oil retailers: every year in the winter months, everyone raised their prices significantly. The practice didn’t strike him as fair, since that was precisely when people needed heating oil the most. He wanted to do something about it.
By 1990, Allan purchased and stored all his heating oil for the coming year. Factoring in a modest profit margin, he then made a promise to his customers that would pay one price of 99 cents per gallon for the entire year—no more, no less. This soon became the standard offering among all energy retailers. The fixed-rate pricing plan was born. This is also when Allan met Matt Lanfear, and found they shared a vision of creating a responsive and responsible small business that understood the community. The result was a small venture with big ambition they called Great Eastern Energy.
The journey so far
Great Eastern Energy (GEE) is a leading supplier of electricity, natural gas and renewable energy in the Northeast. Founded in 1996, it remains one of the longest standing alternative energy companies in the region. Their full service energy solutions help businesses and property owners thrive by managing their energy costs and increasing their bottom-line.
When GEE first started, it was supplying natural gas only and in 2010 they expanded to include electricity. GEE set out a plan by contacting existing customers via sales and channel partner networksto make people aware of this venture. They also hired some very experienced professionals in the electricity arena to help with purchasing, pricing, and modeling. It was a major investment and took several years before they saw a profit, but eventually it came to be that the electricity business exceeded the natural gas business. Ultimately it was a testament to the GEE brand that people who had already worked with GEE or had heard of GEE were ready and willing to give the company their additional business via electricity supply.
Most businesses starting out have similar experiences with financing, borrowing and making financial arrangements with lenders, which was GEE’s initial hurdle. Then it became about finding the right personnel and staffing. Later—and still going on today—the company focused its attention on improving its technology. The energy industry is a technology-reliant industry, a great deal is based on the quality and accuracy of the information. To maintain a healthy balance of profitability, growth, stability, employee and customer satisfaction is one that can be difficult at times but GEE has learned very humbling lessons along the way.
Work culture at GEE
It’s always important for the company that its employees feel included and heard and GEE accomplishes this in a variety of ways. The entire GEE executive team has an open-door policy encouraging employees at all levels to feel comfortable to visit and ask questions to the executives as often as needed. GEE holds monthly team meetings, where each department shares updates and opportunities that have occurred in the past month and what to expect next. The company also utilizes a platform called Yammer which serves as GEE’s internal social media program, where employees post about both professional and personal activities, share industry news, competitive intel, and post ideas and thoughts.
The company also hosts many team building activities throughout the year like scavenger hunts and Build-a-Bike programs. New employees go through a corporate culture training with GEE CEO Matt Lanfear, which entails learning and discussing GEE’s values, mission and vision. GEE is always concerned about its employees, ensuring that they feel their successes. Also, GEE truly encourages professional education and improvements, and is always open for supporting employees who want to take additional course work to further develop their skill set as it relates to GEE.
All companies have internal conflicts between employees, but what is important at GEE is that conflicts are addressed and that employee concerns do not go left untended for long periods of time. GEE encourages its employees to improve upon many of the methods and applications that they already have in place, to create a sense of ownership, accountability and creative innovation. GEE appreciates that its employees are the ones working directly in programs and on tasks, so their input and feedback is critical to improving efficiencies.
Consistent organizational growth
The consistent growth of GEE over the past 20 years can be attributed to its loyal customers and the talented team of individuals in the organization who support and carry out the company vision and mission, day in and day out. Although GEE doesn’t have any new products to be rolled out for the remainder of this year, the company has expanded its footprint adding five utility services areas and there are an additional three that will be added before the end of 2017.
The team envisions Great Eastern Energy as a top 20 Energy supplier in the U.S. GEE’s executive team sees themselves providing the leadership that will drive insightful, progressive thinking that will make GEE a valued partner to any organization and a recognized leader in the industry, even creating a new evolution of energy suppliers.
Know the Key Executives of GEE
Matt Lanfear is the CEO of Great Eastern Energy. Matt has a BS in Business Management, and a Masters Degree in Finance from Hilbert College and St. Bonaventure University. Matt is an energy executive with 20+ years of experience in developing energy markets and energy management planning for small and large industrial businesses. His goal at Great Eastern Energy is to enhance product development, business operations, and business strategy.
Allan Brenner is the CFO of Great Eastern Energy. Allan is a graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in Accounting. With 40+ years of experience in the industry, Allan’s financial acumen has proven to be an invaluable asset to the company. Allan is particularly adept at using financial products (options) to create price surety and budget management for the clients.
“We empower our customers to understand their relationship with energy and reduce their consumption in an effort to build a better future for generations to come.”