Time to Grow
Houston entrepreneur encourages improvement during a difficult time
Flexibility has always been a core component of Valens Project Consulting, but the unpredictable last year — as COVID-19 has ravaged the economy and oil industry, especially — has strengthened that vital skill even more.
"As the lockdown loomed and predictions of a closed economy foretold the massive loss of business, I was ready to hunker down and expect the loss of 100 percent of our customers," says VPC's owner and founder Claudio Gutierrez. "But by May, VPC had lost only a quarter of our customers, and by September we were down by just 50 percent — not nearly the disaster I had been prepared for."
Gutierrez understood that this situation was ultimately temporary, and when they were able to, these accounts would return as customers — with no hard feelings from his end.
Instead, VPC focused on what it could do to improve its own operations during the pandemic, and top of the list was growing the staff. Since the worst of the lockdown, VPC has expanded its permanent engineering resources in a variety of disciplines, including electrical engineer, process engineer, and reservoir engineer.
Its industries have expanded, too. VPC started out mainly in the engineering field, taking on project management, process improvement, cost reductions, and more on a contract basis.
Now, after a slight COVID delay, it has expanded its base of fabrication and industrial distribution companies to include those offering disaster relief (such as temporary emergency housing), automation companies, and construction companies.
VPC is even venturing into public projects, with a few in partnership with Harris County currently in the works.
Gutierrez also focused on the value of face-to-face meetings by traveling to seek out new markets, and now supports projects in Florida, Washington, and Louisiana. Next on the docket: expanding outside the U.S. and into Latin America.
But until these global plans can be realized, Valens Project Consulting has been organizing virtual activities and developing a podcast presence. You might have spotted them on LinkedIn, where Gutierrez's personal network has grown significantly and VPC has been adding followers daily.
The importance of in-person networking has not been lost on Gutierrez, however. He makes sure all precautions are in place for both his staff and clients, and that everyone's safety is top of mind.
"I've become an advocate for in-person meetings," he says. "I don't want virtual meetings to become 'the new normal.'"