October 16, 2014

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Michael A. Brown, President and Founder, Environmental Construction Services, Inc.

Environmental Construction Services, Inc. is a fast growing firm based in Philadelphia. Its Founder and President, Michael  A. Brown has been busy making sure it stays that way by providing superior solutions for clients, educating himself on new business practices, researching the best financing options for growth and much more. PIDC was able to help Mr. Brown maintain several contracts through our Contract Line of Credit, which supports small, minority, women and disabled owned businesses which need a line of credit to fund contract-related working capital. We were able to catch up with Mr. Brown in between his hectic schedule and gain some insight into his success. We’re excited to share a brief overview with you here.

Describe your business for our readers.

MB: Environmental Construction Services, Inc. is a mechanical construction company that specializes in energy-efficient retrofits and Building Information Modeling (BIM).

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

MB: I became an entrepreneur in order to have the freedom to bring my ideas to life. At a previous employer, I wanted to use technology to standardize introduction of sheet metal ductwork into our fabrication process. I envisioned the ability to merge an engineer’s drawing with our fabrication order-entry system (from Cybermation). Upon earning my MBA, I thought I would become a vice president of engineering or business development. I soon realized that many of my ideas regarding automation of our business processes weren’t a priority for the company! As a result, I negotiated a deal to be released from my job, but without having to reimburse my employer for graduate-school expenses. My “wish” was granted—14 days later, I was an entrepreneur.

What prompted you to contact PIDC for financing?

MB: Marla Hamilton, PIDC’s Vice President of Marketing & Business Development, sparked a fire regarding ECSI 360’s financing goals. She is an amazing person! Her persistence in educating small businesses how to access capital caught our attention. Marla has been a crucial part of our success.

What has the financing from PIDC allowed you to accomplish with your business?

MB: Within the last 12 months, the financing we received from PIDC has allowed us to acquire a business, add 30 new employees, open a second office in northeastern Pennsylvania, and relocate our headquarters to The Navy Yard, Philadelphia’s finest waterfront business campus.

What are some contracts your company has secured in Philadelphia?

MB: A sampling of ECSI 360’s completed and ongoing contracts/projects includes:

  • Philadelphia FringeArts – La Peg’s HVAC and Kitchen Exhaust System
  • Pennsylvania Convention Center – Cooling Tower Replacement
  • Lincoln Financial Field – Kitchen Exhaust Retrofit
  • Philadelphia VA Hospital – AC19 Replacement and Blood Lab Renovations
  • Cozen O’Connor – Office Fit-Out at Liberty One
  • CBEI (Formerly the EEBHub) – Building 661 and 7R BIM and Job-Pricing Consulting
  • Walt Whitman Bridge – Anchorage System Dehumidification

Why was it important for you to be a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Scholar?

MB: With our business growing at a rate of 233% year over year, I needed the tools to ensure our aggressive growth strategy would be sustainable. The Goldman Sachs program assisted us in creating a growth plan that has become a road map for us to follow whenever we need to make critical business decisions. Such decisions include: entering a new market, launching a new product, hiring a new employee, and forming joint ventures or teaming agreements.

Furthermore, our company was selected to travel to New York and participate in a two-day coaching session with upper-level executives from both Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg. The results of this coaching session have been spectacular and will guide our growth for the next decade.

What immediate change have you seen in yourself after graduating from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses education program? What do you hope to accomplish as a result in the future?

MB: Since graduating from Goldman Sachs 10KSB and attending the New York coaching session, I’m confident that my goal to transform ECSI 360 into a top construction company in our region within the next five years is highly achievable. One of the biggest challenges a construction company usually encounters is working capital. With assistance from Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs, we now understand our industry’s financial metrics and, more importantly, how our peers are raising capital. This knowledge gives us the bargaining power to ask for and receive the correct amount of capital, but without the restrictive covenants that have caused the demise of many of our peers.

You’re being honored at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce 32nd Annual Excellence Awards this year in the category of Technological Excellence of the Year. What does this award mean to you?

MB: It is an honor to have our peers recognize ECSI 360’s commitment to technological innovation. Unfortunately, minority and women-owned firms are constantly questioned and misperceived regarding their capabilities. This award dispels such myths and substantiates the fact that many diverse businesses, regardless of size, gender or ethnic makeup, are inventing the technologies that will transform the future.

Do you have any advice for other small business owners?

MB: Oh, yes—enroll in quality programs like Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. Even though I have an MBA, the 10KSB curriculum proved to be challenging, transformational, and “sized right” for a small-business owner like me. More powerful than the coursework itself, I’m now forever connected with other amazing business owners in the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley region who are also 10KSB graduates.

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