Climbing Up In the Energy Management Industry

Hester Yorgey

This month, Executive Vice President Jon Thomsen was recognized as one of 2012’s leaders in the sustainable business ecosystem by Sustainable Business Oregon. Leaders throughout Oregon were chosen for their thought leadership and commitment to integrating environmental and social responsibility into “business as usual.” Jon and I recently sat down to chat about this honor, and to talk about his motivation for driving positive change in the energy management industry.

jon_thomsen_climbing4Congratulations for being recognized as one of Oregon’s sustainability leaders! 

It’s an honor to be singled out like this, but I certainly can’t take the credit. This kind of attention points to all of the amazing work our employees and Ecova as a whole are doing to make a world of difference for our clients. We have nearly 1,300 passionate people working to reduce our clients’ energy spend, improve operations and conserve resources. This isn’t about me…this is a recognition of their hard work of which I’m very appreciative.

What does the future of energy management look like? How important is the role of technology?
Energy management will continue to be more dependent on leveraging technology to obtain information that leads to cost effective action. And as energy resources become more constrained and expensive, this industry will continue to focus on reducing usage through technologies that automate action based on a set of predetermined rules. Human behavior has such an important impact on resource utilization, so we’ll also see increased attention to education and empowering people to play their part in environmental impact mitigation.

What’s the one thing businesses should do now to position themselves for the future?
To have the largest lasting impact, I would encourage businesses to acknowledge that there is both a business need and an opportunity in resource management—and to integrate it into their strategic planning process. Corporate sustainability is key to running a business—it affects operations and bottom line expenses, employee loyalty and retention, corporate citizenship—and ultimately a better brand and a better story.

Who has had an impact on your career? Why and how did this person impact your life?
If I had to name a few names, I would name Chris Calwell and Lois Gordon, two of the founders of Ecos [one of Ecova’s predecessor companies]. They showed me that there is a balance between economy and ecology, that you can do well—run a successful business with strong economic returns—and simultaneously do good for the environment, our communities, our clients, and our employees. There are others – specifically members of the Ecova executive team – that have had a huge positive influence on me. While they should know who they are, I can’t mention their names lest I adversely affect their humility!

What inspires you about the work of Ecova?
I’ll focus on three things that inspire me about Ecova. First, we’re doing something larger than just running a business. We’re saving resources for our clients, enabling them to run more efficiently—but we’re also managing resources for the greater good. Ecova is a mission-driven company with a bottom-line focus, and we’re trying to improve the way that “business as usual” is done. Having a grander vision and the knowledge that I’m working towards something that is bigger than each of us gives me a lot of energy. Second, our employees – we have some amazing folks on board who do incredible things for our clients, our communities and for each other here at Ecova. Lastly, I really enjoy our clients – think about it, if you didn’t like the clients that make up the industry in which you’re doing business that would be unbearable. I really do enjoy working for those we serve.

When you’re not at the office, where would we find you?
Spending time with my wife and three children, or doing anything that gets me outdoors. Windsurfing, skiing, biking—you name it.

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