Being a seasoned leader in the energy industry with 16 years of experience, Deke Welling, Co-founder & CEO of CLS Sustainable, realized that there is a need to change the traditional methods. He explored the renewable domain of the energy space to look for sustainable solutions and brew new modern ideas into reality.
Diving into the energy sector
After dropping out of his school, Deke’s dad introduced him to the sales and management sector. At the age of 16, Deke ventured into the domain and started climbing the ladder of success.
He mentions, “Being in sales has allowed me to learn more about entrepreneurship than anything else because you only get paid if you perform. It also gave me the confidence of knowing that for whatever product or service I would want to offer, I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else initially to sell it for me. This is a great asset to have, especially as a start-up.”
His last job in the sales domain was working with a licensed financial broker, where he offered Private Placements in oil and gas wells.
When energy prices were at their height, the owner of the company divested his assets and retired. He instructed Deke that he would make a good business owner and he should venture on his own instead of working for someone else. Deke took this advice and started his own oil and gas company at the age of 28.
They drilled primarily gas wells throughout the country in unconventional shale fields, and he was able to see first-hand the negative impact drilling and fracking had on the environment. Experiencing this, Deke felt that there had to be a better way to extract these resources rather than what was being done. After 2008, the market fell, and oil prices plummeted. Deke felt the need to make a change and pivoted into renewables.
Shifting the gears with time
Deke believes that it is necessary to take setbacks as learning lessons and evolving the strategies to adapt to circumstances. He states that early on, they took on more than what they could handle to try and please their partners. What it did was cause a bottleneck of projects that were in development, and they were not meeting their projected timelines for their clients. They remedied this by creating more efficient internal processes that helped enable them to still take on a higher volume of projects but to do so in a manner where they could complete their work within projected timeframes.
He adds, “What we learned was that we should have been proactive in anticipation of more volume and should have had proper processes and procedures in place prior to taking on more projects. This has helped us with our business since by always projecting out months at a time in anticipation.”
Taking CLS Sustainable to the next level
CLS Sustainable started out primarily doing engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) for solar developers. As its reputation of integrity and fairness continued to grow, it started receiving requests from other professionals in the energy management and brokerage space to assist with their clients wanting solar. This allowed the team to venture more into the early-stage development of renewable projects. Today, they pride themselves on being a one-stop-shop for business owners by offering holistic services that can tackle all of their energy needs.
Deke adds, “We try to differentiate ourselves from competitors by providing our clients with a full energy solution that not only reduces the cost of the electricity supply rate but also demand costs and the overall reduction of their consumption. We believe this approach has the most constructive influence over a business’ energy spend. This is something a majority of solar companies don’t have the bandwidth or wherewithal to perform and sets us apart.”
Aiming to Impact lives
As the Co-founder and CEO of CLS Sustainable, Deke holds the responsibility of handling all the early-stage development, financing, business development, and daily business operations. Along with this, he also enjoys talking with all the potential customers and sharing their services as well as how they cater to their clients. Owing to this, he is always present on almost all the sales presentation calls.
He shares, “My partner and I have the same approach on leadership, and that is leading by example. We are both very much involved in the day-to-day activities of the business.”
Being inspired by their generated impact, everyone burns the midnight oil to search for solutions for their customer and be successful. Fostering a strong company culture, they also focus on creating a motivating environment. They also appreciate and enjoy with their team members in all the activities and keep working to create daily impacts in other people’s lives.
Keeping such spirit, no awards or accolades can measure the achievement of having the privilege to teach, train and/or develop others through their own experiences. Witnessing others grow and become a better version of themselves on both professional and personal fronts has been a true victory for him.
He further shares, “My greatest moments are calls, texts, or emails that I have received from previous employees or team members thanking me for advice, direction, or guidance that I have given in the past. It lets me know that I may have played a small role in that person’s success, and that keeps pushing me to continue to do the same.”
Fostering a positive balance
Deke had always been a workaholic and would keep on working without any switch-off button. Even being married to his beautiful wife, Ashley, for 11 years and having four kids together couldn’t bring the change in his working habits. However, slowly his wife showed him the path to have proper work-life boundaries and also helped in establishing a positive balance between both arenas.
He adds, “Getting older and having a family that I adore has given me a new meaning in life. Whereas before, I wanted success to come in the way of business and finances, but now I have learned that time is way more valuable than anything else in this world. So, I spend most of my time outside of work with my family or with friends playing golf.”
Charting the roadmap of CLS Sustainable
Sharing his company’s vision, Deke states, “My vision is to continue to serve businesses and organizations that have a want and desire to do their part in making this a better place now and in the future. This means we have to each take responsibility and do our part to conserve the resources that God has given us.” Keeping a change-oriented approach, they are looking forward to become the most impactful and effective at whatever they do.
Deke is striving hard to grow and evolve as a top leader in the renewable energy industry. Currently, he emphasizes imparting services to their clients in the best way possible. It will surely leave a significant impact on lowering their energy spend as well as carbon footprint.