Suraj Lobo lives the old aphorism about a rising tide lifting all boats. As manager of Progressive Building Solutions, Suraj believes his company’s visionary ownership structure is a rising tide in Seattle’s home performance industry. Employees are part-owners of the Community Power Works-certified contractor, which means each employee is deeply invested in Progressive Building Solutions’ success.
“We all have a real opportunity to create something,” Lobo says. “If the company succeeds, we all succeed.” Employee ownership is one of the three pillars of Progressive Building Solutions. The other two pillars are developing energy efficiency best practices, and performing superior upgrade work that includes plumbing, electric, and mechanical projects for homes and businesses.
Lobo’s passion for the trade stretches back to high school. He was so inspired to work in the industry that he called mechanical contractor after mechanical contractor until one agreed to let Lobo shadow him. Once in the field, he learned about sheet metal and woodworking, and eventually secured an apprenticeship through the Local 32 Plumber & Pipefitters Union.
A few years ago, energy efficiency piqued Lobo’s interest, and the course of his professional life altered. “Comfort and efficiency used to be in different worlds,” he says. “You either had oil heat and stayed warm, or you wore a sweater.” The home performance and energy efficiency world is changing, and Lobo is excited to drive that change. A major focus for Progressive Building Solutions is the installation of high-efficiency ductless heat pumps. “They have made comfort and efficiency inseparable,” he says. To prove the point, Lobo opened a Fremont showroom to provide live demonstrations of the equipment.
It’s working. “Our conversion rate right now is 100%,” says Lobo.
A high conversion rate, better consumer education, and the popularity of Community Power Works mean Progressive Building Solutions will hire an additional employee over the summer and up to two more in the fall. Lobo says Community Power Works “has been great for us. The program’s long term success means that we all succeed – my business, my employees, my customers, and the planet.”