O'Neal Featured in Black Box Magazine

O'Neal Featured in Black Box Magazine

The following article appeared in the Trailblazers section of the Q3 2010 edition of Black Box Magazine.  For more information on Black Box Magazine, visit www.insideblackbox.com

While many trailblazers begin making a fresh start in some area of their life, Kevin Bean, president and CEO of O’Neal Inc. has moved his company in a new direction by making the 35-year-old company relevant to the need of today. Beginning as a design firm and adding the construction component of the business in 1997, O’Neal has been around for quite a while. Recently, though, the attitude taken by Bean and his associates exemplifies a frame of mind that’s somewhat non-traditional for the construction and design industries by making the green movement a key facet of their work.

“What we are focused is on solar biomass energies, so we have established a partnership with a European company based in the Netherlands, with manufacturing in Taiwan and Germany, and what we are doing is helping bring some of their technologies here to the U.S.” Brian Gallagher, director of marketing at O’Neal, adds. “In addition to that, we are doing some work on biomass plants, so global energy is gaining some momentum and it is going to continue to gain a lot of momentum as government program change”.

Recently, O’Neal worked with NURRC, agreeing on a $50 million deal to design and build the world’s largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling facility in Spartanburg, S.C. Every year, the plant recycles 100 million pounds of plastic, which can be reused as new bottles. The plastic recycled in these efforts amounts to as many as two billion reused plastic bottles produced every year.

In addition to projects which result in brand new facilities, O’Neal also takes part in creating designs that update and upgrade standing facilities in an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective manner, resulting in overall savings for their clients.

“A lot of companies that we work with have corporate sustainability programs, and they are looking at LEED certification for their buildings,” Gallagher says. “They are looking at energy efficiency and conservation measures, and they are also looking at alternatives sources for generating energy, so, it’s a natural fit with what our clients are looking for, and we want to find some ways to bring more solutions to them.”

But the strength of O’Neal lies not only with progressive, efficient deigns. O’Neal also boast an energy auditing system where they track building’s current energy use and identity changes that a business can make in order to use energy more efficiently, potentially resulting in tax credits for businesses that make these changes.

“It’s not just part of business, but helping the local economy and the planet that puts the “why” behind the business,” Bean says. “I can see that in our employees and team members-they are excited about it.

“I think the other thing that’s interesting is that our business tends to be about numbers and rate of return, but this is not the primary driver, he continues. “You have to have a reasonable business case, but a lot of our clientele is based in Europe. The are working to conserve energy because it’s the right thing to do, and that’s what I think is exciting-the financial model is second.”

And yet the green movement is still evolving the growing, which makes keeping up with them in business a full-time effort. “We have to kind of navigate it because all industries are trying to determine what the future is,” Bean says. “Renewable energy would be a part of it and it will drive a lot of new business, and we don’t want to just participate in solar and biomass, we want to help the companies who want to participate, so I see that as a whole new opportunity for us. We are an established business, but now the challenge is that we have to reinvent ourselves and realign what we want to do.”

Profile by Andrew Brandenburg