After two decades as an electrical engineer helping companies power up new communities, light parks, bridges and other outdoor spaces, Nick Iozzo decided it was time to launch his own power-system engineering company.
“I knew there was a business to be built, and wanted to do it myself for a change,” says Iozzo, who founded Vaughan, Ont.-based DPM Energy Inc. in 2010. The company provides electrical power grid and public space lighting designs for municipalities, utilities and the private sector.
“We design stuff that keeps your roads lit and your power on,” Iozzo says.
DPM has been involved in many unique and complex public projects throughout the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Some of these projects have become destination spots in the city, many of them for Waterfront Toronto, such as the Pan American Games athlete’s village, The Bentway public park under The Gardiner highway, as well as the Queens Quay revitalization project.
The company has doubled in size over the past year to more than $8-million in sales. Its goal is to double again in the next three years, including possibly expanding its footprint outside of Ontario.
DPM’s growth to date has been driven partly by an increase in government spending on infrastructure, such as parks and public transit, as seen with the Eglington Crosstown and Finch West LRT projects
“We like to brag about being small parts of very large projects,” Iozzo says.
Iozzo has also leveraged his experience to land both new and repeat clients.
“We do a lot of relationship selling,” Iozzo says. “It’s all about who we know and who knows us. As our clients got bigger and our reputation got bigger, people came to us.”
Still, he says the company needs to ensure its growth is measured and sustainable.
“We’re not trying to hit a home run for next year, double the company, then shrink it,” Iozzo says. “As much as we can, we make sure it’s sustainable … so staff has more opportunities. We want our people to stay with us, so we have to create more challenging opportunities for them to take on.”
DPM has 52 employees today, up from three when it started. Iozzo says his company, like many others in the engineering sector, is challenged when it comes to attracting and retaining skilled workers.
Iozzo has worked to keep employees by developing a strong corporate culture and sticking to the company’s core values. DPM has developed its “Core 4” set of values, which includes creating “a culture that our employees are proud to be part of.” Another core value is building a team that is dependable, and considers itself a family.
Iozzo also aims to be as transparent as possible with staff about its financials and hosts regular staff meetings to share information and ideas on how to work better as a team and with clients.
“I wanted to create a culture I wasn’t seeing with some of my other employers in the past,” Iozzo says. “A lot of our focus on culture and key values is having everyone be part of the equation. We focus on why we are here, what we do. We spend a lot of time on engaging staff.”
The best part about building a business, according to Iozzo, is watching the team work together to solve problems and come up with innovative solutions for clients.
In hindsight, Iozzo wishes he would have started his own company sooner.
“Sometimes it’s the fear of stepping over the edge, the fear of the unknown, that holds you back,” he says.
His advice for other entrepreneurs is first to make sure you have a business with products or services that other people want to buy. Then, “believe in yourself” and make it happen.
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.