When Russell Tencer looks down the boardwalk in his hometown of Long Beach, New York, he envisions not a day lounging by the surf, but rows of efficient and aesthetically-pleasing wind turbines.
“We’ve come up with a leading-edge small wind turbine that can be used in built-up areas in towns and cities where energy is not only needed but has a nice value,” he says.
Tencer is the 32-year-old CEO of Wind Products, a small wind turbine company in New York City that is focused on putting its turbines all across the New York area.
The company’s wind machine is called “The Butterfly Wind Turbine,” and it has already received a $1 million grant from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Tencer, a serial entrepreneur, got into the renewable energy business because he believes a market is emerging with plenty of potential for small turbines.
One reason is the government push for “green jobs,” and another is the growing interest in smaller-scale and lower-cost turbines for individual use. “They’re about three to four million potential turbines that could be sold in this country alone, which translates into a 20- to 30-billion-dollar opportunity,” he says.
Six Shooter Q&A with Russell Tencer of Wind Products
1. What is your biggest mistake to date?
Tencer: Early on, we relied on advisors who did not have skin in the game with us. When a trusted source of information is not properly motivated it can create problems. We have since endeavored to work with partner firms that we love doing business with and create win-win agreements that keep everyone focused on the best results.
2. Do you think the entrepreneurial character is something learned or something inside you?
Tencer: My perspective is it is engrained within you. I love the daily challenges of problem solving, developing products customers value, and building a winning organization. I am comfortable with the risk/reward equation, and I am confident I can come out the other end of a startup process successfully. If you don't feel that naturally, I am sure it would be hard to commit to such a process.
3. What three words describe you and why?
Tencer: Visual. If I can see the path, I am in great shape; when I am blocked, it is a problem. Everything I do, I see it first.
Intellectual. Being intellectual means not always needing to be right. I like to throw all the great ideas on the table and pick the best ones. Sometimes they are mine, sometimes not.
Fun. Life is short and I like to enjoy it whenever possible.
4. What do you wish you had more of: time or money?
Tencer: Definitely time. Money is replaceable; time is priceless.
5. When do you hope to be profitable?
Tencer: We expect to be profitable in 2012
6.What do you say to critics who say the wind power industry is only afloat because its subsidized by the government?
Tencer: I say look at the facts. All U.S. energy industries are subsidized, and wind energy is quickly moving towards parity with other traditional power producing technologies.