London-based Vick Ilic is the founder and managing director of a successful energy consultancy that saves its clients' money and the planet's resources.
Shrewd Vick, with a background in economics, started Commercial Energy Solutions in 2008 at the height of the global downturn.
‘'I spent most of my career in the travel industry, then during the financial crisis, I made a decision to switch to the energy industry, partly because it's far more robust. In any major crisis travel is usually affected,'' he told CurrencyFair.
‘'So I started an energy procurement business initially focused on reducing energy costs by sourcing the cheapest gas and electricity for clients. As they began to need additional services we readjusted and started installing meters, coordinating infrastructure upgrades, and managing energy data,'' he explains.
With industrial and corporate clients, including food manufacturers, care homes and hotel groups, there is a requirement to reduce energy costs but also manage how they are perceived.
‘'Over the past few years the sustainability issue has become so prominent that a lot of our clients are happy to pay a premium to go green and reduce their carbon footprint,” he says.
‘'We have a lot of clients who've been with us for 12 years, our retention rate is high, helping our clients achieve their energy saving and consumption goals and hit their reporting targets, and being thanked by them, gives me huge satisfaction.”
Cleaner and greener
Operating their own flexible basket of energy allows the company to approach several suppliers and merge their client's collective buying power to purchase energy at the right time. They also offer fixed contracts where clients can buy energy upfront for the years ahead.
‘'All of our clients want to focus on efficiency and want us to manage and monitor their energy consumption. We analyse the data and then point to any anomalies or unusual spikes,” he states.
‘'Typically, these breaches are caused by someone playing with the air conditioning controls or turning the heating up and not resetting it, which often means defaulting to manual settings. In one case it went on for weeks and the client used 40 percent more energy.
‘'We had a food manufacturer where a cleaner would leave the freezer doors open when she was working in the evening. That was absolutely burning electricity. We could clearly see the pattern and were able to save the client significant amounts of money,'' he adds proudly.
For Vick, saving money and time has been a feature of his long-standing association with CurrencyFair. ‘'We have used CurrencyFair for close to nine years to pay outsourced workers who are based in Europe,” he says. “Our web developer is based in Macedonia, we also used an IT developer in Bosnia.
We also use CurrencyFair for investment purposes, using company money to buy property, recently in America and Croatia. ‘'With CurrencyFair I can buy euros when the price is right, similar to the way I buy energy.
‘'Using CurrencyFair is really straightforward, in the time I've been using it, I've never had any issues. It's about saving money, definitely, but the transaction time is also way better than the bank.
‘'Recently, I paid someone in Croatia, and he texted me 30 minutes later to say the money had arrived, that was fantastic,'' he enthuses.
Looking ahead, Vick is keen to emphasise the role of innovation and new technologies in improving energy efficiency, but also the need to be more aware of carbon emissions.
‘'We constantly need to innovate and re-educate ourselves,” he proffers. “We all need to know the next thing we can do to remain efficient and reduce carbon.
‘'That means reducing reliance on the grid and looking to alternatives such as solar and battery, where you can store energy, voltage optimisation is another means of reducing consumption. Hydrogen to a large extent will replace gas, it's about embracing those new sources of renewable energy,'' he argues.
With energy costs increasing over 21 percent during the pandemic, Vick is conscious of practising what he preaches. ‘'I always look at my own usage. Last April was beautiful, this year we had a really long cold winter, and my energy usage has gone up 80 per cent. I keep telling my wife and kids that we don't always have to have 23 degrees, it's pleasant at 20,'' he laughs.
Despite struggling to control his own bills, Vick needn't worry. With expansion plans well underway, the company is set to grow its team from 12 employees to 20 employees over the next year. That news should generate plenty of enthusiasm.
Commercial Energy Solutions had not received any gratuity in respect of this article.