Lowcountry conservation company powered by energy reductions
Energy companies across the country are charged with finding ways to encourage consumers to shrink their carbon footprints by switching to compact fluorescent lighting, programmable thermostats and other power-saving devices.
At a glance
Company: AM Conservation GroupHeadquarters: 2301 Charleston Regional ParkwayEmployees: 38Founded: 1989CEO: Todd RecknagelConcept: Manufacture and supply weatherization, energy and water conservation products.Website: www.amconser vationgroup.com
This growing market, fueled by some incentives and rebates, has shifted the focus at AM Conservation Group, a Charleston-based supplier of weatherization, energy and water conservation products.
“AM Conservation Group has helped supply some of the largest conservation programs in the nation through strategic partnerships with utility companies, and I plan to continue on that path as well as expand the presence of our products in the retail space,” said Todd Recknagel, CEO of the company.
Recknagel, 49, took over leadership of the company when founder Paul Cutler retired in 2011.
AM Conservation Group, founded in New Jersey in 1989, moved to a 27,000-square-foot industrial building on a 6-acre tract in the Charleston Regional Business Center off Clements Ferry Road in 2005.
In 2010, the company, citing expanded demand from power providers, water companies and construction businesses, expanded its footprint in the industrial park to a 50,000-square-foot operation. Also that year, Miami-based private equity firm Trivest Partners paid an undisclosed amount of money to become majority owner of AM Conservation Group.
Recknagel says the infusion of cash from Trivest helped the company grow services like programs that provide energy-saving kits for utility customers.
“We have as much capital as we need to sign up 10 utility companies tomorrow if we need,” he said.
Today, AM Conservation’s facility houses millions of CFL light bulbs and more than 500 other energy-reducing products from shower heads to programmable thermostats and LED lights.
In addition to its website and Amazon.com, AM Conservation’s wares are sold by several merchants such as Walmart and Sears.
The company also works on large-scale projects for clients such as Marriott Hotels, Pizza Hut and municipalities such as the city of New York, in addition to 10 of the 20 top utilities in the nation.
AM Conservation employs 38 workers with the majority involved in program sales. The company contracts its product manufacturing to companies in the United States and overseas, Recknagel said.
In addition to growing brick and mortar, the company has recorded expanding sales over the years. Recknagel declined to specify sales for the privately held company, but said projections are $50 million to $100 million in sales this year, a jump from $5.5 million the company reported in 2004.
Recknagel said helping utilities is a expanding market for AM Conservation Group since those companies want to run government-mandated energy-conservation programs in a cost-effective way.
Recknagel declined to identify all utilities served, but said market share is growing for AM Conservation.
Services include providing workers with weatherization products, such as weatherstripping and sealants, or running conservation programs and providing customers with kits. The kits are customized for each customer with items such as CFL bulbs, low-flow shower heads, pipe insulation and a conservation tip sheet.
“We’ve made it easy for the utilities to work with us,” Recknagel said. “We solve a lot of their issues in terms of making it easy to get supplies with one-day shipping of inventory, and we can also manage the call center.”
Recknagel said the programs usually are extended contracts that can involve several million dollars. That included a $12 million multiyear project to service a utility he declined to identify due to confidentiality agreement.
AM Conservation has the capacity to produce more than 20,000 energy-saving kits per day, officials said.
Such programs save money for both consumers and utility suppliers, said Donald Gilligan, president of the National Association of Energy Service Companies, a trade association.
In the case of electricity, Gilligan said it’s cheaper for the utilities to provide energy-saving devices than increase their capacity. “For water companies, it’s different because they’re trying to conserve water since there may not be a lot of it,” Gilligan said. “It’s increasingly expensive, and depending on the water district, they may be struggling to have enough supply, especially during peak times.”
The energy-conservation programs division accounts for a sizable part of AM Conservation, but Recknagel said there’s continued growth in its research and development.
He added that the company is looking to expand its offering of luxury low-flow shower heads, in addition to a storm kit that would include items like thermal blankets, crank-powered LED lights and freeze-dried food supplies.
“If you do have an outage, it will be good to have such a standard storm kit,” he said.
Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.