Name: Amy Norquist
Company: Norquist founded Greensulate in 2007. The company designs, engineers, and installs green roof systems.
Measure of success: In 2010, the company grew 400 percent putting Greensulte firmly in the black. If they achieve the same growth in 2011 as expected, the company will have generated more than $5 million this year. There are currently 14 employees at Greensulate.
Why she’s fierce: Eschewing a successful career in the nonprofit sector, Norquist built a company that has insulated 100,000 square feet of rooftop which has eliminated 3,300 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere. She is one of the pioneers of green building in NYC. On a much more superficial level, New York City is 10 to 20 degrees hotter than the surrounding suburbs because of the built up environment. Replenishing green space – especially on heat hoarding tar roofs - cools the atmosphere and Norquist’s efforts are helping to make the dog days less dogged.
In Her Own Words:
Daria Meoli: How was the transition from working in non-profit organizations to starting your own for profit business?
Amy Norquist: I think the training I got from being in non-profits was actually very good. There’s a huge focus on strategic planning, on human resources, taking care of your people, and management in general. I think the training was actually very, good and very different than a lot of people’s training coming up through a corporate environment. The thing that is just so refreshing for me now is there’s a direct correlation between working harder and doing well. And in the non-profit sector that’s not always the case because the mission is sometimes amorphic and dependent on so many outside influences that you have much less control over.
What appeals to me is that it’s a relatively mission driven organization and that remains a big part of my professional identity. But, the number of green roofs we put up has a direct correlation to the environment being cleaner. And there is an economic correlation as well. It’s the directness and the clarity I find much more appealing than my experience in non-profit land.
DM: What have been your greatest challenges in starting Greensulate?
AN: The constant stress about growth. We have some pretty lofty goals as a company, in terms of not only building the company, but building the industry. It is a powerful position to be in because we’re not just competing for market share we’re in creating the market. And when you do grow, there is an added feeling of responsibility when hiring more employees. You have to make sure you can meet payroll in the off season. In the ultimate leadership position, there’s a real constant in managing people. If an employee is feeling self-actualized, happy, and fulfilled one day, they may not be feeling that way 10 days later. The challenges change pretty quickly when you’re growing quickly.
Daria Meoli is the Executive Editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org