February 5 becomes the day two of my lifelong best and closest friends left. Yesterday, while I was celebrated my brother-from-another-mother Scott Morris, Paul Pimentel passed on in California. Paul and I were business partners, friends and rascals together at Pequod Associates, Inc. from 1980 to 1998. We built the company from a start-up to a nationally recognized leader in energy and water conservation engineering. With 3 offices and 30 professional employees, we sold the firm to Equitable Resources in Pittsburgh for a lofty multiple of earnings. Even at that price, it proved to be a profitable investment as our core group (without me) built the new entity into a $500 million operation.
In our nearly 20 years working together, I cannot recall a time that Paul and I fought with each other, though we met countless threats to the company's survival. The story of Pequod is told in 3 parts.
First, we were creative and impeccable engineers (not me) who took on projects too complex and cost constrained for other firms. When Southern California's massive Water District needed an engineering firm to launch a conservation effort, they conducted a national search and identified Pequod as the country's most qualified. Creative and impeccable engineer defines Paul. His installed designs have saved tens of millions of dollars of water, electricity and fuel.
Second, we were creative entrepreneurs who pursued an idea whose time had not yet arrived: that environmentalism and business needed to come together. In the early 1980s, environmentalists were anti-business and corporations were anti-environmentalism. From Pequod's origins we sought to change the paradigm. Clean, renewable, efficient energy systems would exist when they were economically profitable. In a business climate that rewarded scoundrels, drunks and thieves, we survived countless crises that put us on the edge of dissolution, paid all our bills (eventually) and delivered quality designs and installations to our clients. Paul was in the center of solving every calamity we faced. When the shit hit the fan, our motto was always: What now?
The developers of a wood-fired electric power plant tried to stiff us on a $200,000 bill for services rendered. We collected it all.
Our founding partner got busted in an FBI drug sting. Paul, Sandy and I had to scramble to save the firm from going down with him.
Our biggest private client in California, strung us along for months with slow payments, then hired away our two lead engineers and cancelled our contract. Again, we collected.
With the firm on the verge of being acquired, an outside consultant evaluated the deal and recommended our acquisition price be cut by 90%. Paul and I, with wets palms and white knuckles, got the firm taken off the due diligence team.
Third, we were genuine good folk who trusted employees, clients and vendors with honesty and respect. Here's one example of Paul's character. About a year after the original partner's drug bust, I stepped into Paul's office and said I felt I was acting as his business partner and felt the company ownership structure should reflect this reality. Paul responded, "Get the stock certificate book and give yourself the shares you think you deserve. I'll sign it." I did and he did.
Most people who knew Paul would not be as long-winded as me, but hundreds of them could share equally long tributes. I'm just beginning to scratch the surface of my memories and appreciation.
When Anna and Rosie got old enough to start contemplating their adult future, I offered them my 3-part formula for a successful career.
1. Work hard.
2. Be excellent at whatever you do.
3. Find a place to stand as a professional that's not crowded.
Paul Pimentel exemplified these qualities par excellence. Never one for soapy goodbyes, when I tuned into to Paul this morning, he smiled, gave me a big hug and said, "See ya."
It's so hard to describe just one great memory of Paul. They are ALL great.
Just to be around him was amazing.
He was so very kind, loving,fun, interesting, intelligent,funny ..just "cool" as I may say. I loved to just be able to talk to him, pick his brain about anything and everything. Yes, just to be around him made me feel important and loved.
He gacg off such a vibe that made you feel like you knew one of the greatest men in this world. . I am proud to have called him my cousin. I miss him already.😢
Please excuse my typo
He GAVE off such a vibe that made you feel like you knew one of the greatest men in this world. . I am proud to have called him my cousin. I miss him already.😢
Please feel free to share your stories of Paul in the comment section.