A Client Does Me Proud!

by francine Hardaway on August 16, 2007

Everybody always wonders what I really do. Well, I coach and advise entrepreneurs, hoping to make them successful. Someone recently called it the “wisdom business.” But it’s really the “more mistakes than you” business. I try to save people from going through some of the things I went through. I flew blind.

Back in the late ’90s, after leaving Intel to go into business for myself for the second time, I met a man named Robert Johnson, who had just bought back a small company in Mesa called Environmental Support Services. He had started it and sold it, and when the buyer nearly destroyed it, he bought it back. Why? Because he had a commitment to green before green was cool. I loved his vision and jumped on board.

Robert had started what is now ESS as a software company to track refrigerants. He was an early adopter of the Internet to connect with customers, and early to the idea that software could increase compliance by automating some of the regulatory burdens. His first software was on floppy disks.

Slowly he convinced plant managers in the enterprise to rely on software. Then he decided he should integrate more than just refrigerants into his product and, through development and acquisition, he developed a suite of compliance tools — waste management, air quality management, environmental health and safety, crisis management.

He has moved forward quickly with every improvement in software development, putting his tools on the cutting edge. ESS also has a deep repository of industry expertise.

I have been advising him on and off in his marketing through the years (both the good years and the lean years). It wasn’t easy to embark upon an expansion just as the dotcom bubble burst (we were partners with VerticalNet — remember them?), but Robert managed his way through the tough times after 9/11 when no one in the enterprise bought anything.

But this morning I realized he has finally “made it,” because the well-respected industry analyst firm AMR Research issued a Green Alert on Environmental Compliance as a foundation for sustainability, and named ESS as an emerging market leader in this field.

The report talks a lot about how to use social media tools, and how Web 2.0 will give rise to Enterprise 2.0 and Manufacturing 2.0. Robert knows all this and is ahead of it. He blogs here.

Here’s an excerpt from the Alert:
Interestingly enough, it’s by pure chance that a few of the panelists at our conference shared more than a commitment to sustainable supply chains; they also shared a common software provider. And it’s not their ERP platform—all three use ESS to help them track the EH&S elements of their sustainability activities. AMR Research recently spoke with a series of ESS customers and their consensus is clear: using ESS as a single environmental instance helps centralize EH&S structures that originally comprised a potpourri of homegrown and manual systems.

Here’s another:
the EH&S compliance market was crying out for a leader (see “Technology Options To Support EH&S Compliance”). ESS is emerging as a strong candidate for companies seeking to centralize their EH&S processes to a single platform outside of their ERP instance. And it’s an attractive partner, or even acquisition target, for vendors seeking to expand their environmental footprint.

What a compliment to ESS. To start an enterprise software company in Tempe, Arizona and make such a go of it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. But it proves what I love to think: IT CAN BE DONE!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Connie Reece August 16, 2007 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for pointing this out on Twitter, and congratulations to you and your client for the recognition of ESS’s success. Inspirational! (And just another reason I couldn’t resist adding your name to The W List :)

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: