UGE International (OTCQB:UGEIF) (UGE.V) (TSXV: UGE) CEO Nick Blitterswyk had a chance to speak with Executive Casts, a platform for executives for well-established smaller capitalized companies to open up about various aspects of their company.
The segments highlighted here help investors learn a little more about how UGE got started and where Mr. Blitterswyk thinks the company is headed. Transcriptions are provided for your convenience.
Highlighted in this post:
- Introduction to UGE
- UGE’s Origins
- Core Values
- The Road Ahead
Introduction to UGE International
We are a leading commercial solar company. So, in essence, what we do is we work with businesses and other institutions to deliver them the low cost of solar. And so, the way that the business model works is typically we’ll go to that client, educate them on what solar can do for them, end up developing a contract with that client, and engineering and building a solar project. So, think about it in its most simple sense: solar on a business’s rooftop. The system, of course, will generate energy for the client. The key thing about our business model is that our clients aren’t paying anything up front. Instead, they’re buying energy from that system at a rate cheaper than they can get from the utility, so they’re going green, they’re saving money. We’ll work with long term investors then to own that project over a usually twenty-five-year lifetime, so that the three parties, us, the client, and the investor all receive a benefit from it.
In terms of how I started the company and how it came to be, so going way back, I’m the son of parents who were the caretakers of a park in Western Canada, really hippies, coming out of the 70s, and so I really grew up in a very sustainable-minded family. And so one thing led to another, and I started my career in New York City and I became an actuary, but really what lingered with me was this idea that I wanted to help out and help with the overall sustainability movement. So, what ended up happening is, about ten years ago, and you know now it’s kind of a common thought, but at that point in time, there was a lot of technology being developed and there were clients that would presumably use this technology, but there was this huge, you know, Grand Canyon, in between the two. So, if you think about it, if I’m a client, I don’t know which solar technology to use, I don’t know if it should be solar or wind or something else. And so, the idea was what we call a solution-based company, we bring together the best technologies, package them together into a solution that does something for a client and so on. So, when the industry was getting off the ground eight years ago and we started the company, that was, in many cases, companies that wanted to be sustainable and were willing to pay extra for it. But, what’s really happened and changed here in that time is solar can down the cost curve so quickly, that now for a client it’s simply the cheapest form of energy that they can access, and so it’s really become an economic question for them. It really expanded the addressable market to every business or every institution that’s out there.
Yes, the core values of the company, as we like to say, “Be green, be great, have fun.” So, number one, we’re obviously a green company, we’re doing this first and foremost because we want to make a difference in a sustainable way. Number two is the “be great.” So, you know, we aim to provide an excellent service to our clients and really be strong engineers and developers of this business. And then number three, in terms of have fun, you know we want to be an enjoyable place to work, and a good place to do business with, whether you’re a client or another stakeholder in the industry.
The Road Ahead
So, if I summarize that briefly in terms of the last three years and setting it up for the next three years, so briefly, as the industry has become, you know, has gone from being quite diversified in terms of a number of technologies to solar really becoming the dominant form of energy source for distributed generation, what’s happened is we’ve gone from, you know, maybe being a little bit wide doing solar and wind and so on, to really being focused on the solar space, and it set us up, I think, to grow very quickly as that industry becomes more and more interesting here. But then also what’s happening is that other technologies, mostly battery storage is probably the most interesting, are also coming down the cost curve and making this industry really, really exciting when looking at the 21st century maybe as a whole. So, what I like to say is, you know, the utility model, the grid model, for really just over a hundred years ago, not that long ago, but in that timeframe, all every business has done is buy energy from the grid when they needed it. Some had no power whatsoever. What distributed generation is doing is changing that equation around. So now you can choose when you’re buying your energy from where. And so for the clients that we serve, you know, right now we’re saving them 20-50% off their energy bill, I think as battery storage comes down the cost curve, that’s just going to accentuate what we can do for them, so you know, I think that the next three years sees us scale up rapidly, start increasing what we can do for our clients, and set us really on a pathway to grow quite a bit more in the three years that follow that as well.
About Nick Blitterswyk
Nick founded UGE with a focus on distributed renewables to address the world’s energy challenges. His leadership and belief in a productive and enjoyable company culture has grown UGE into a global leader. Raised on a Canadian nature reserve, Nick is a Fellow of the Society Actuaries with previous experience at JPMorgan and AIG.