Century Club Contractor Spotlight: Chad Ruhoff, Neil Kelly Company

Every year EPA and DOE recognize members of the home performance industry with the Century Club Award. The award goes to companies that improved the energy efficiency of more than 100 homes in a single year through the Home Performance with Energy Star program.

As we know, behind every successful efficiency program, there is a team of hard-working contractors. This year, we got a chance to speak to some of the contractors that participated in local programs to achieve these record-breaking numbers. Not only did these home performance leaders give us details on what makes their business run, but also what keeps them successful day after day. The following is our first Century Club spotlight interview with Chad Ruhoff, the manager of the home performance division of Neil Kelly Company located in Portland, Oregon.

In 2011, Neil Kelly Company, with the help of sponsorship from the Energy Trust of Oregon program, completed 132 jobs, which earned them a spot in the Century Club.

Business Profile: Neil Kelly Company

Years in business: 65
Nonprofit or for-profit? For profit
Number of staff: Whole company: 146; Home Performance: 31
Number of women on staff: 5
Number of work vehicles/trucks: 12
Average number of jobs completed per year: 211
Average job size: $15,000
Average annual sales: $3.2M in 2011; $6M projected for 2012
Required staff certifications: BPI Building Analyst/Building Envelope for Sales, Analyst and soon Project Management
Languages spoken by staff: 4 Spanish, 2 Russian, 1 German

About Neil Kelly Company Clients & Services

What geographic area do you work in? Pacific Northwest
What local energy efficiency programs do you work in conjunction with? Energy Trust of Oregon, Clean Energy Works Oregon (CEWO), and Community Power Works (CPW in Seattle)
Do you work primarily on single or multifamily homes? Do you also work on commercial buildings? Primarily single family but we also have done multifamily, condo apartments and small commercial.
Do you offer free energy audits or home assessments? We offer free assessments in Oregon through CEWO, but also undertake paid assessments. In Seattle the price is $95, with the balance of $305 subsidized by Community Power Works. In Oregon, it's $395.
Does your company typically do your own test-in and test-outs? Yes.
Do you receive third-party verification of your services to clients? Yes. 100% through CEWO and CPW and 5% through Energy Trust of Oregon
Do you offer financing options for your clients? Yes. CEWO and Community Power Works both offer on-bill financing, and other partner banks offer up-front loans for faster ROI.  We also offer Umpqua Banks GreenStreet Loans.

Q&A With Chad Ruhoff:

Home Energy: What have been the critical success factors for your company?

Chad Ruhoff: First, it's been the partnerships with CEWO and Community Power Works for making home performance work affordable and keeping the funnel full. Secondly, the company’s 65-year history, reputation, and recognition in Oregon are key to our success. Lastly, our ability to cross-market and offer all-in-one services, including energy, standard remodeling, and handyman repair services have helped us find success.

HE: What do you think is the one most important item for home performance professionals and/or companies to focus on in the next 2–3 years?

CR: The U.S. DOE says that at our current rate it would take 500 years to retrofit 25% of homes in the U.S., so building a  workforce is the top priority. Educating the public about the benefits is another main goal. Lastly, we need to further establish Standard Work Specifications or best practices for the industry.

This blog originally appeared on HomeEnergy.org.

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