Green Field Energy Group – Lee’s Summit
Who says government contracting is dying?
Not the principals and employees of Green Field Energy Group, Inc., dba Mid-America Facility Solutions, a full-service construction management, facility services and maintenance company headquartered in Lone Jack. Green Field successfully bids on many contracts, notably a recent custodial contract with Alliant Techsystems (ATK) Small Caliber Systems, operator of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence.
According to the U.S. Army’s Joint Mission Command, the sprawling, nearly 4,000-acre facility has 511 structures, 420 of which are utilized in day-to-day fabrication, manufacturing and testing of small arms, staffed almost 24 hours a day by about 2,500 people. That’s an awful lot of cleaning and laundry. About 35,000 pounds of laundry a month, to be precise.
Green Field had an established reputation, so ATK awarded the firm its custodial contract in late 2011. ATK was so pleased that the ammunition manufacturer then awarded its laundry contract to Green Field as well in fall 2012.
Laundering ammunition workers’ antistatic, flame-retardant coveralls and other protective clothing is not exactly like doing laundry at home. The workers’ clothes may contain toxic chemicals produced during assembly or from live rounds workers have picked up but forgotten to set aside. The worst that can happen to household laundry is color fading or whites turning red; the worst that can happen at the Green Field-run laundry is almost unimaginable, so the firm trains its workers very carefully.
These contracts, combined with other projects, have transformed Green Field into a thriving, nearly $3 million a year company with more than 20 full-time plus a number of part-time employees. But it wasn’t always that way.
David Villines, vice president of Green Field, had decades of facility management experience when he founded Mid-America Mechanical in 1996. Mid-America had three divisions performing commercial HVAC and control, facility management, construction, energy conservation and renewable energy solutions. Villines also owned a heating, cooling and electrical company in Warrensburg.
These businesses did quite well until 2008-09, when the economy took a nosedive and dragged Villines’ business down with it. Suddenly a number of large contracts totaling millions of dollars vanished, and companies that owed him money began sending him bankruptcy notices. He could not collect so he could not pay his bills. Villines found himself more than a million dollars in debt with no clear path out.
So he turned to Darrell Brammer, University of Central Missouri SBTDC director, in late 2009. Brammer helped Villines network and coached him on acquiring smaller contracts and how to build on these successes. Brammer also recommended looking into reliable subcontractors to fulfill contracts Green Field might not have the capacity to handle.
Villines says his faith also helped pull him through this dark period, and that faith was confirmed as Kyle Greenfield, a new investor and business partner, stepped up. Greenfield provided leadership, assistance and expertise in sales and business management; these skills, combined with SBTDC help and Villines’ sound technical and business ability turned the company around by 2011.
The renamed Green Field Energy Group, dba Mid-America Facility Solutions, recorded a more than half-million dollar profit in 2011, thanks in no small part to the ATK contracts and steady networking. In government contracts as in everything else, a good reputation often predisposes business partners in your favor. And sales in 2012 far surpassed that of 2011, with revenues of more than $3 million. 2013 projections are even higher due to the laundry and other contracts.
Green Field is a lot more than a launderer, though. The firm also has extensive experience in energy efficiency. So in 2013, when ATK was asked to identify their least energy-efficient building, a World War II-era, uninsulated wooden laundry building that used steam for hot water and dryers, Villines, who served several years as a project manager with Honeywell International, Inc. focusing on energy efficiency, was approached by ATK to see if he could improve on the building’s 19th century structure and technology.
He did. Green Field recommended and ATK implemented a complete overhaul, with a high-efficiency gas heating system, gas-fueled dryers and a 98 percent efficient hot water boiler system. That was followed by a complete building renovation with new windows, siding and more airtight seals. Unlike most non-renewable energy sources, natural gas is plentiful and cheap and will likely be so for decades to come.
“They [ATK] get to know you, get comfortable with you, and you get the opportunity to bid on other things,” says Villines. “Things that are more in our wheelhouse, like energy efficiency. We are not just about clean clothes. We are a true energy services company, and they are starting to recognize that.”
Villines says he couldn’t have done it with Brammer and the SBTDC.
“Transforming my business has occurred in no small part because of the help and assistance of Darrell [Brammer] and his associates. I wouldn’t be in business without them.”
– David Villines, vice president of Green Field
Brammer and the University of Central Missouri SBTDC have also tapped students for suggestions on improving the company’s website and social media. The website now features order placing, payment and other e-commerce tools. And Villines and Brammer continue to explore new markets such as LED lighting and potential improvements such as modernizing accounting practices, reducing duplication and combining processes.
Becoming a potentially $6 million dollar firm comes with its own share of headaches, however.
“I’m coaching Green Field on finding good management help to take the load off Dave,” says Brammer. “Dave needs to focus on marketing the business, bringing in sales and staying ahead!”
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