T he Thermo Homes name has become quite well- known in the Halifax Regional Municipality during the building boom. I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who’d love to hear how you got your start. JL: Well, the two companies have different start up dates: Thermo Homes was founded in 2010 and Equilibrium was founded in 2012. Thermo Homes is a full-service insulation company, and we also sell high-efficiency heat pumps. At Thermo Homes, we look at the home as a collection of systems – insula- tion, heating, windows – and design our solutions based on science. Our technical salespeople are not traditional sales- people, they are building science experts who endeavour to improve the way your building works. Equilibrium Engi- neering is a full-service engineering firm with a focus on energy efficiency. We partner with our clients to design solutions that reduce energy costs, greenhouse gas emis- sions, and overall ecological footprint. “I said he’d be a great fit – and the friendship piece just made the decision that much easier.” WM: And it was all started as a co-op program. It’s a story with two sides, really. I’ve known Jeremy since grade two. He was a couple of years ahead of me, but I was really close with his family. His younger brother was in my grade. We’;re all still really close friends. We grew up in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. It’s where we’re based. When I was going through university for my engineering degree, Jeremy had been managing the Future Shop in St. John’s, Newfoundland – he was actually the youngest store manager in Canada at one point at 23 years old. He has great perspective. When I started Thermo Homes in 2010, he was working as a business analyst for Internetworking Atlantic in Halifax. He thrives on the business management side of things: dealing with staff, dealing with clients, the bones of a business. The invoices and regular demands of any business weren’t really my strength – I thrive on bringing in projects, putting things together, and then back out the door. I’m a technical guy, an engineer. So early on, I recommended Jeremy to my business partner Shelley Kerr. I said he’d be a great fit – and the friendship piece just made the decision that much easier. We waited until his contract was up and he’s been on board with us ever since.
In the beginning we basically took the cooperative, disas- sembled it, and then reincorporated it as a corporation. We grew it for two-and- a-half to three years and then sold a piece of it to a Quebec-based firm, Econoler Inc. What makes you such a go-to in a competitive market? JL: Well, I think part of it is that we’re specialists with a wide scope. We’re into mechanical, electrical, and plumbing – building science and design, really – so we’re doing anything from energy modeling to commissioning to LEED-type certifications. WM : And on top of that, most of us folks here are either engineering technologists or engineers. Both Shelley and I, for instance, are Professional Engineers. We both taught and designed curriculum at the Nova Scotia Community College; we were lead faculty members of the Energy Sustainability Engineering Technology Program. The Engineering Technologist program is a two-year program and the whole course was really about whole-building, energy modeling, high-performance building, and LEED renewable energy design. We were teaching about these next generation jobs for three years and we weren’t about to leave the opportunities we were opening up for others on the table. There’s no doubt that you’ve caught the attention of some big names in the energy and resources communi- ty. Can we go back a little bit and talk about how your partnership with Quebec-based Econoler came to be? WM: Well, Econoler used to be the international develop- ment arm of Quebec Hydro. After thirty-plus years, they decided they wanted out of that game, so two Quebec Hydro employees bought it – they are currently the presi- dent and vice-president of Econoler. Equilibrium Engineering happened to work with them on an Efficiency Nova Scotia contract and they liked what we do. You could say that they are highly specialized in energy efficiency; they don’t do any of what’s called ‘commodity engineering’ and they work with groups like the UN, the world development banks, and the inter-American govern- ment banks. They have a couple of offices around the world and they were looking for some, we’ll say younger, energy efficiency experts – because a lot of their experts were getting older and needing some new faces to take on some of these international missions.
We were looking for a way to branch-out beyond Nova Scotia and the margins looked great so we jumped at the
“We invest in great people, pay them well, and offer excellent benefits and bonus plans. We are committed to creating opportunities for great people in the Annapolis Valley.”
SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • JULY 2017
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