Paul Schueller was interested in energy and environmental issues as a young boy in Port Washington and was lucky enough to get into that area as a pipeline construction engineer at Wisconsin Electric. He left the utility to form his own consulting firm, then in 1994 founded Franklin Energy, a Port Washington company that operates energy-saving programs for customers of utilities. Franklin does everything from running rebate programs for purchases of energy-saving light bulbs to performing energy audits for large corporations. The company has 1,100 employees, about $250 million of revenue and 60 offices in more than 30 states. And Paul has the unique distinction of continuing as top executive through ownership by three different private equity firms under three different boards of directors.
Here’s some advice Paul has for fellow entrepreneurs:
- Don’t try to be everything to everyone; stay focused.
- Be careful about partnering with other people. Make sure that you are as clear as possible about decision-making authority and processes. Don’t assume that because you’re friends it will work out.
- Make sure you have the risk tolerance to grow a company on your own. You have to continue to take on personal loan guarantees and pay up for businesses you know might not have value.
- Be open to changing your vision. It must continue to evolve.