14 July 2024 Last updated at 03:25 GMT

Energy and matter

Energy and matterTo run a great company requires vision and the strength to make the right decisions. Jonathan Jackson speaks with Eutility CEO Ryan O’Hare about profitability and teamwork.

In July 2012, Ryan O’Hare took over the role of CEO of utility cost management company Eutility. With an impressive and very successful background in telecommunications, Ryan took on the role with a definite goal in mind - to turn this professional energy services company into a major player in the power supply and maintenance market. There is of course a catch; no CEO can ever walk into a company and change the culture without facing one problematic factor. In Ryan’s case, Eutility is the family business.

Ryan has a long history of turning companies’ profit statements around. It is, by his own admission, what he does.

In the early 1990s he travelled to the United States, took hold of the operations of a family-run global energy and telecoms service and consultancy business known as Cost Analysis and tripled its revenues. He returned to Australia to head up its Australian operation.

In 1993, Ryan founded a start-up telecommunications service provider in Sydney to capitalise on the deregulation of the industry. CorpTel became one of the largest privately owned telecommunication service companies in Australia, recording revenues in 1998 of over $120 million. It was sold in that same year to AAPT for approximately $30 million.

Following that venture, he formed a venture capital firm that bought and sold technology companies. This led to his own start-up People Telecom which was later acquired by M2 Communications.

One of Ryan’s strengths is to predict what will happen in markets; it is why whatever he has touched so far has turned to gold. Currently, while working as CEO of Eutility, he holds the same position at Next Telecom, of which he is major shareholder, CEO and executive chairman. Next Telecom was launched to deliver state-of-the-art B2B telecommunications IP services, mobile and data to small to medium business. Ryan’s vision was to capitalise on the expanding experience in the new NBN world.

And it is his vision to capitalise on new changes in the utilities market that will help him fulfill his goal with Eutility, the company his father began 33 years ago.

First, however, was to get the right structures in place.

“My father was brought out here by an international company in the early 1970s to open up a business similar to Eutility. Some years on, in 1979, he decided to create his own business, Professional Energy Services. I became involved five years ago when my brother was running it. It hadn’t grown. It was very small, with 10 staff and was run like a backyard operation. He asked me to come in and help him for a couple of days of the week. At the time, I was semi-retired after I sold People Telecom, but after five years I’m still here. I’m now the CEO and we’ve gone from eight staff to 62 and we have big plans.”

For Ryan, those plans hinge on maximising opportunity. He says unless a business is dying, any entity can find opportunity. It’s a positive attitude and one that acts as a catalyst for change.

Another element to change, one Ryan holds with utmost importance, is putting the right people in place.

“Having the right management team in place that has the vision to take the business where I wanted it to go was of paramount importance. The first thing we had to do was clear out the old staff and bring in a new team of people who could implement my vision of what this team could potentially be.”

The next thing on Ryan’s agenda was to change the culture.

“I had to filter down through the organisation a whole new culture with a whole new outlook on life. Stringent policies and procedures and budgets were then implemented. This business runs more like a public company than most public companies because I believe you need that sophistication in the back end that allows you to avoid the pitfalls of growth.”

Having the right people helps implement and reinforce the culture. It means people become the key ingredient of any successful business.

“If you get the right people on board and understand them and gain loyalty, drive and enthusiasm, that automatically delivers a better business and a better business delivers profit. Most managers are not willing to make the tough decisions and locate or attract the people they need to get the business to where it needs to go.

“I won’t hire the wrong person, I’d rather have nobody.”

One other tip Ryan has with regard to staff is to pay them properly.

“You have to pay staff the right money. As long as the business model is sound and you are profitable, you just have to pay people what they are worth, not what you think they are worth.”

Once the right staff is in place, vision really comes into play.

Part of Ryan’s vision has been to lease 1000sqm of office space in North Point Tower in Sydney, where he is undertaking a half a million dollar fitout to bring staff together and incorporate the new culture.

This will also allow Eutility to better capitalise on being in the right place at the right time as the carbon tax kicks in and electricity prices rise.

“We couldn’t be in a better spot,” Ryan says. “We have to ride the wave as fast and efficiently as possible otherwise we miss the boat.”

This is a great time to be a B2B service provider in the utility market. And with the service Eutility offers, there is no doubt the company will go from strength to strength. In a nutshell, Eutility provides services to reduce energy expenditure.

“Initially that could be through the procurement of price, meaning locking down price between our contractors and the retailers,” Ryan says. “We are one of the largest acquirers of energy contracts for business in Australia. The next thing we do is provide online capability. Customers can view their energy use through a portal called SmartView. Then we install smart metering which delivers data every 15 minutes from which we provide an instantaneous online experience for engineers or business managers to view how their energy is being consumed. With that information they can make their own decisions about reducing consumption. It also allows us to conduct onsite assessments which allow our engineers to determine what pieces of equipment to install to reduce consumption long term. All equipment is funded through financiers, which is assisted by the Federal Government’s Low Carbon Australia initiative, which brings the interest rate down to 6%, which then makes payback logical. Through technology we can provide an online experience for our customers to see what they would have consumed before and after equipment was installed which gives them a real-time interface to see the saving and then the calculations behind the payback. We are the only company doing that.”

The fact that clients can also claim carbon offsets and declare themselves a low emission business through Eutility is another advantage.

“What we are saying is you don’t really know what you are doing with power consumption, but we know what everyone is doing, so we can negotiate the rate and put reduction practices into place.”

So successful has this change in culture been that Eutility now signs between 80-100 customers a month across each State of Australia.

Ryan believes that Eutility’s professionalism and drive is what sets it apart from its main competitor: that and keeping an eye on the future.

“Implementation of smarter technologies will enhance the ability to reduce output in terms of energy usage. As they come to light we need to be the ones to drive them into business environments.”

By doing that, Eutility will remain the best at what they do. “We want to win awards like my telco businesses do for customer service and we want to be double the size and profitable.”

Ryan is a driven man; the achievement of those goals will occur sooner rather than later and will keep his family happy.

If you are interested in Eutility updates, follow them on Twitter @EutilityPtyLtd, Facebook or visit their website at http://www.eutility.com.au/ 


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