For 2015’s Fastest-Growing Urban Business, Sustainability and Culture Are Key - ICIC Blog, By Liz Holden
For Baltimore-Based Bithenergy, business growth has not come at the expense of community and environmental investment. Quite the opposite, as the company size has increased, its leadership has doubled down on its commitment to a positive impact on the community and on the environment.
Last year at ICIC’s Inner City 100, the renewable energy services company was named the fastest-growing inner city firm in the U.S., earning it the annual Staples Business Growth Award.
ICIC recently spoke with Coretta Bennett, Bithenergy’s Chief Operating Officer, and Daniel Wallace, Vice-President of Business Development, about the company’s rapid growth and the company’s impacts in Baltimore and beyond.
Both Bennett and Wallace said Bithenergy’s commitment to community and culture attracted them to the firm. “The company is a great place to work… The market is growing,” Bennett said. “Bithenergy is very unique as a space and as a company.”
As a rapidly growing company in the evolving field of renewable energy, Bithenergy has had to navigate a constantly changing landscape. Wallace said that one of the biggest challenges was “growing pains” resulting from the need to add new systems and processes as the company added new employees and new services.
“Because the energy industry is still very new and growing… it creates opportunities for us to continuously learn,” Bennett said. “We’ve had to learn the different markets and the different sectors and understand the regulations and the laws.”
Hiring the right employees has been key to this growth. Although many staff members are highly trained in technical fields like engineering, Bennett said that character is key: “The staff needs to be a good fit, and the culture is very unique. We look for people that we’d like to work with. We look for people with great ethical standards and who are communicative.”
Wallace agreed. “It’s so important to have good chemistry across your team. When we need all hands on deck we need all hands on deck… We need to be a strong support team for each other.”
When asked about the benefits and drawbacks of their inner city location, the only drawback that was mentioned was the difficulty of parking in the city. Both cited the company’s proximity to clients and potential employees in Baltimore and in other major East Coast cities as a major benefit. “We… have a lot of clients in the city – we work closely with universities and hospitals. Most of them are located in dense urban centers,” said Wallace.
Bennett said that Bithenergy’s location allows the company to increase its community impact. Coincidentally, both she and Wallace graduated from the same Baltimore public high school as the CEO, Robert Wallace, and all have a strong commitment to the city in which they grew up. “Being in the city allows us to have greater impact on the people who are there,” and increase local hiring, she said.
And for a company whose livelihood is sustainability, an urban location helps to foster a greener workplace. Bennett says that many employees, walk, bike or take public transit to work.
By promoting environmental sustainability through business-driven solutions, Bithenergy has joined the ranks of Inner City 100 companies working to create shared value in their neighborhoods and beyond. “The work we do in the sector and in the community, in Baltimore and internationally, is so attractive. We can do something cutting-edge, save money and benefit people as a whole,” said Bennett. “We’ve done a great job behind the vision of our leader and with the industry we serve.”
Read more about Bithenergy in a corresponding blog authored by Staples.