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Green technology company embraces smart growth strategy with Emerging Leaders class

Carl Tutt

Set your business up for success by starting with a problem, Chicago resident and small business owner Carl Tutt advises. “You have to impact something,” he said. “You have to either solve the problem or create a situation that didn’t exist before.”

Seven years ago, he took his own advice. Inspired by President Obama’s call for energy efficiency and LED lighting in the White House in his first inauguration speech in 2009, Tutt launched Integrating Green Technologies, an environmental consulting and services firm that delivers efficient lighting and wastewater management solutions for government and commercial clients nationwide. Tutt was also able to capitalize on the 25 years’ of experience he gained at McDonald’s Corporation where, as a procurement manager, he helped reduce energy costs at restaurants.

“When I left the corporate environment I said I want to do something that’s going to impact the world,” Tutt said. “Water is a natural resource; you can’t fabricate it. People think we have this abundance of water, but only 1 percent is drinkable. We have to protect that 1 percent.”

In wide-ranging projects, IGT has made a sustainable difference in a variety of ways. They’ve installed energy efficient lighting at two University of Illinois campuses, a retail redevelopment project in Chicago, as well as churches and a dental office. They’ve also been working extensively with Miami-Dade County to draft a report detailing how they’ll comply with waste-water maintenance regulations, and later plan to help retailers and restaurants implement the recommendations.

In 2015, as Tutt saw his company growing exponentially, he was cautious about avoiding some of the pitfalls that expanding companies often face. Around the same time, he learned about the Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders Initiative,  a federal training program that specifically focuses on executives of businesses poised for growth in historically challenged communities. The initiative provides these executives with the organizational framework, resource network, and motivation required to build sustainable businesses and promote the economic development within urban communities.

Over the course of seven months, participants are given the opportunity to work with experienced mentors, attend specialized workshops and develop connections with their peers, city leaders, and the financial community. What Tutt most appreciated was the chance to work on his business, instead of working in his business.

“When you’re in the business, it’s like being in the middle of a storm,” Tutt said. “Taking a class like Emerging Leaders allows you to sit back and ask, what things do I need to change to help the company move?”

The course was also valuable because his wife, simultaneously, was starting her own business. Although it has a much different focus than Integrating Green Technologies, many of same lessons and strategies were applicable. Tutt appreciated the monthly small-group discussions with CEOs, which offered a chance to discuss direct issues and get real-time solutions.

Tutt also took advantage of his local Procurement Technical Assistance Center to learn more about doing business with the government. Representatives there helped him register in the proper places and research past contracting opportunities, to learn where he’d be most competitive.

“When you’re a new business, especially with electrical supplies, people are leery because they don’t know how long you’ll be around,” Tutt said. “When they see your responsiveness, your service, your ability to get the project done with good pricing, they start coming back to you, and you have repeat customers.”

The types of projects IGT works on take months or years to win and complete, so patience is essential. But Tutt has been able to reap the rewards of owning a business, most notably the freedom and flexibility that comes with being his own boss. He advises others to take advantage of the SBA’s free resources and trainings to get a new perspective on running and growing a small business.

“If there’s an opportunity for you to do Emerging Leaders, I recommend it,” Tutt said. “You’re busy, but you have to figure out how to make time for it. It’s nothing but beneficial.”

Company Name: 
Integrating Green Technologies
Location: 
Chicago, IL