Contemporary Energy Solutions: Efficient And Economical Lighting Technology (CES)

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Tony Vlastelica, Founder & Principal There exists no single institution that promotes and works onthe ideology: money is no object. Regardless of the industry, achieving operational efficiency with reduced costs is the golden rule for any successful business. In the energy landscape, an 80-90 percent dip in the consumption of electricity is by no means a small cost saving for industrial and commercial buildings. While LED-based lightingcan promise one-fifth of the consumption of high intensity discharge or high intensity fluorescent, its adoption has only recently escalated in commercial and industrial lighting applications. Given the fact that it is still a maturingtechnology, its high price tag is a major barrier to its widespread usage. That said, it takes audacity to challenge the norm. Enter Contemporary Energy Solutions (CES), founded in 2011, a company that caters to this very need of providing a broad range of lighting options for the industrial and commercial sectors while keeping affordability in mind. To top off the benefit of cost-effectiveness, theydemonstrate exclusive efforts on customersupport—both pre-sale and post-sale. “We are relentless in our pursuit of customer satisfaction and continuously try to eliminate the common friction points that emerge while doing business in our space. We set the bar high around here with our positive team culture and standard of performance,” states Tony Vlastelica, founder and principal of the company.

The Genesis

The story of CES traces back to the time when Vlastelica—who received his bachelors of economics in 2004 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—after gaining enough experience in the business world, set out as an entrepreneur, determined to set the gold standard for ESCOs (Energy Service Companies) in the industrial and commercial sector by delivering the best overall value.

"We are relentless in our pursuit of customer satisfaction and continuously try to eliminate the common friction points that emerge while doing business in our space"

Vlastelica along with his team at CES have a collective experience of over 100 years, which makes them an ideal fit in the industry to understand the precise needs of customers and address them. CES provides energy saving lighting consulting services to distributors, manufacturers, and industrial plants and assists them in taking advantage of utility incentives and federal tax programs. Primarily focused on LED lighting, CES assists its clients in leveraging the same for commercial and industrial projects. The company offers site assessment services and recommendations, including ways to reduce annual lighting costs and total costs of purchasing and installing the new efficient lighting.

Let There Be Light!

Highly acknowledged for helping clients eliminate waste from their operations and improve their bottom line, CES’ expert teams invest their time and resources in vetting the latest technologies in the market. The company initially conducts an energy audit to find areas where there is inefficiency related to lighting and connects the dots for its clients to see the big picture economic viability as far as current operating costs, potential savings, and utility incentives. Depending on the existing needs of the client’s facility, CES designs the optimal lighting solution which is not only cost-effective but also maximizes long-term energy savings. While helping its clients navigate through the process of developing a financially viable plan, CES also provides turnkey project support and execution; this includes working with utilities to maximize any available incentives and finding the right products. The clients win when CES helps them to identify and execute on a project, resulting in significant savings that go straight to the bottom line profits.

Our main focus on the needs of our customers, and we believe in the quality of work. Our team is young, talented, and hungry- and we play to win

While lack of capital is a common barrier to more widespread adoption of any technology, CES is committed to helping their clients fund projects entirely through savings delivered, requiring no upfront investment, and generate immediate positive cash flow for their customers. One such model that is gaining traction is Lighting-as-a-Service, which allows companies to be able to treat the service payments as OPEX and redeploy their capital to core business activities. This also saves time and expense of having internal staff maintain the system, and maintains balance sheet flexibility for the client. These payments are offset by savings and in many cases, deliver additional operating cash flow and profits to the customer after the payment. It literally pays for itself! “Instead of investing large amounts of capital to fund good energy projects—Lighting-as-a-Service will transform the way these projects are funded, allowing companies to focus on their core competencies and get out of the facilities maintenance business which can require hundreds of thousands of dollars in ongoing investments over time,” states Vlastelica.

Trail to Success

CES’ ultimate goal is to help their clients integrate Internet of Things (IoT) into their lighting upgrades to set themselves up for maximum efficiency and lowest total cost of ownership. Through their technology-agnostic approach, they endeavor to provide technology that will excel and still stay within the budget, which turns out to be a win-win scenario. CES specializes in helping their clients integrate IoT technologies into their facilities via the wireless ecosystems that are created during the lighting installation.

Maintaining direct factory relationships with a large number of reputable manufacturers helps in leveraging their buying power and market competition to provide a lower cost for their clients.

Being one of the leaders in the IoT space, CES is working on several projects for Fortune 500 companies. In a recent case, a Fortune 500 client led an initiative to reduce their carbon footprint by implementing wireless lighting technology throughout several facilities. With the assistance of CES, they were able to execute the project across five million square feet of industrial space.

Not just this, one of CES’ remarkable success stories is with Armstrong Flooring [NYSE:AFI]—a Pennsylvania corporation incorporated in 2016 when it was spun off as an independent entity from Armstrong World Industries. CES removed 1,181 legacy lighting fixtures which were replaced with 866 LED lights. By upgrading Armstrong Flooring’s lighting system to LED fixtures and adding integrated controls in strategic areas, Armstrong saved nearly 85 percent on their energy cost toward lighting. After the turnkey installation, the company had an annual savings of $171,355. Most importantly, the utility rebate covered over 80 percent of the total cost of the project. Controls were added on highbay fixtures to create a wireless ecosystem that will grow in value over time as more electronic devices in the facility become IoT connected.

Creating a Niche

CES’ customer-first and agnostic approach to technology makes it a “Durable Differentiator” in the marketplace. “Our company has grown exponentially without having to rely on outside capital and entirely through operating cash flow and profits—the only way to do that is by being very good at what we do,” explains Vlastelica. This success would not be possible without the efforts of CES staff and top industry talent at all levels of the organization. After accomplishing 1000+ projects, the company aims to amplify productivity for its clients by continuing to push the envelope in cutting-edge IoT deployments. One exciting application, for example, in the R&D pipeline is asset tracking to improve operational efficiency using the wireless network created by the new lighting. They plan to continue their success and growth by bringing the latest and greatest IoT applications to their clients. For the future, CES aims at becoming the leading ESCO specializing in IoT controls.

The company also plans to enhance its workforce by expanding its sales infrastructure. CES believes in hiring people who are competitive and talented for building a robust foundation to support its future revenue targets. Not just the expert team but also operating with the philosophy of never compromising at the expense of quality of work or reputation make CES a force to be reckoned with, and they are continually raising the bar for industry peers. “Our main focus on the needs of our customers, and we believe in the quality of work. We are young, talented, and hungry- and we play to win,” asserts Vlastelica.

Contemporary Energy Solutions

Naperville, IL

Tony Vlastelica, Founder & Principal

Provides a broad range of cost-effective lighting options for the industrial and commercial industry

Contemporary Energy Solutions