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Catching up with Daniel Tegtmeier, EthosEnergy’s Performance Center Director

March 14, 2024
Catching up with Daniel Tegtmeier, EthosEnergy’s Performance Center Director

In our latest interview, we spoke with Daniel Tegtmeier about his journey to becoming director of our new Performance Center. Find out what makes him tick.

Not many people learn how to rebuild a lawn mower. Even fewer do so at age 6. But that’s how Daniel Tegtmeier, EthosEnergy’s Performance Center Director, first developed his love of technology and engineering. 

We recently sat down with Daniel to find out about his career and get his thoughts on the value our newly built remote monitoring and operations center can bring to customers’ power plants.  

In a fascinating discussion, we discovered why Daniel sees his new role as the culmination of everything he likes to do. And how his career journey began with a customer literally breathing down his neck… 

Learning to figure things out quickly 

Daniel graduated from the Lamar Institute of Technology in 2004. Straight away, he got a job as a service technician and shop engineer, designing and manufacturing packaging machinery:  

“I was right out of tech school, I didn’t really know how to apply what I’d learned. That’s always the challenge, right? To take all this knowledge you have in your brain and go apply it.” 

While the job didn’t pay particularly well, it gave Daniel valuable experience and troubleshooting skills. It taught him how to handle pressure. He found himself in a lot of uncomfortable situations where he was forced to learn how to figure things out quickly. 

One occasion really sticks in his mind, where the customer stood right behind him as he worked on the machine: 

“He told me he was losing $100,000 per hour because the machine we built was down. I had no choice. I had to fix the machine as fast as humanly possible. It forced me to be very quick with discernment.” 

Little did Daniel know how many situations like this he would experience as his career progressed:  

“When power plants are down, the customer is losing money. So my job as a technician was to keep a plant healthy – to always get things safely and quickly repaired. And now my job is to help our customers get ahead of situations so they don’t lose their ability to generate revenue.”  

Shaped by hardship

Daniel describes himself as a power plant geek, but how did he get into technology? Did it fascinate him from an early age?  

He starts by explaining how he is a product of poverty, growing up in Section 8 housing projects. How he’s had his fair share of hardship. And how helping his father – a car buff and mechanic through and through – planted the seed for his love of machinery:  

“My dad was physically disabled, but before that he was very capable with his hands. He could build stuff. So the reason why I rebuilt a lawn mower at 6 years old was because my dad couldn’t. He had me do it.” 

That sparked Daniel’s curiosity in how technology works:  

“I like to build stuff, to take it apart and put it back together. I like to know how things tick.” 

Moving into a technical career was a natural progression. But ultimately, Daniel saw it as a way to pull himself out of a poverty loop. 

He was also heavily influenced by his mother’s work ethic as a wallpaper hanger:  

“She taught me to be meticulous. I used to watch her work 20 hours a day to get the job done, to try to put food on the table for her kids. So I had my dad teaching me mechanics and my mom teaching me to pay attention to details.” 

What Daniel learned from his parents helps explain why his career trajectory has been so impressive. But they weren’t the only people who influenced him. 

Like a sponge

Over the years, senior coworkers would take Daniel under their wing and help him develop. That’s all because they saw his work ethic and desire to learn: 

“As soon as people saw that I was willing to work, they were willing to teach and train me.” 

Daniel says he was like a sponge – thirsty to learn as much as he could about the power industry. That inherent curiosity made him ideally suited to roles in supervision and, later, operations and maintenance management.  

He recalls, in particular, the advice of one of his mentors to make sure he never isolated himself to one particular craft:  

“He said, ‘Don’t just be an operator, don’t just be an instrument guy, don’t just be a mechanic.’ He said, ‘Get experience in all of those and you’ll make yourself a more viable employee forever.’ And so I did.” 

Diversifying his skill set so he knew the way the machines ticked and the way the business ran was some of the best advice Daniel ever received. It set him on a path to lead. 

Turning skeptics into solid friends 

Daniel is grateful that throughout his career people have taken chances on him. They’ve put him in positions where he’s had to either sink or swim. One of those was becoming a supervisor at just 27 years of age:  

“When I became a supervisor, there wasn’t a person in my team who wasn’t twice my age or more.” 

At first, that was difficult. People thought he was too young to be a supervisor. One even went so far as to tell him that they had articles of clothing older than him. But by focusing on building relationships on a personal level, Daniel saw that he could build a cohesive team. And it worked: 

“It worked well. Those people were gold, and – 12 years since I was a maintenance supervisor – I still consider them my friends for life.” 

At home with power plant remote operations 

From 2006, Daniel spent nearly 17 years with a large utility on the Gulf Coast, working his way up from Technician to Maintenance Supervisor, and from Operations and Maintenance Manager to Manager – and then Senior Manager – of a new group called Operational Excellence. Also during his tenure, he obtained his bachelor's degree in industrial engineering technology from Lamar University to help improve his business intellect. 

But while those later positions gave the entrepreneur in Daniel an opportunity to work on several start-ups and lead important ventures, he felt he was drifting from what he loves most power plants: 

“I’m a power plant geek in my heart. I love what they do, how they do it, the history of power and how it’s come to be. What I was looking for in my next career step was an opportunity to get closer to plants again.” 

Joining EthosEnergy in April 2023, Daniel had the chance to get back to what makes him tick. Nine months in, he’s found his new role to be the culmination of everything he likes to do:  

“I like the agility that EthosEnergy has demonstrated since I’ve showed up. If it’s a great idea, you’re able to run with it. You don’t have to go through 10 levels of approval to get it moving. And I like the entrepreneurship side. I feed off the pressure of start-ups. Where some people fold under pressure, I’m the exact opposite. I thrive in that environment.”  

Starting up the Performance Center 

By the time Daniel joined us, the Performance Center was already a funded concept but it wasn’t yet up and running. Less than three months later, it was: 

“We started with, literally, an empty room. Then we turned it into a fully functioning and secure remote operations and monitoring center.” 

The Center is fully staffed for the year and Daniel says they will be adding more staff next year. Already, though, Daniel’s team of five is heavy on experience: 

“The people we’ve brought in to be part of this Performance Center have accumulated hundreds of years of experience in power plant operations.” 

Experience that is making a difference for our clients – helping them reduce their operating costs and bringing greater efficiency, availability, and reliability to their assets. 

The Performance Center provides 24/7 remote operations and advanced monitoring for power generation facilities
The Performance Center provides 24/7 remote operations and advanced monitoring for power generation facilities

What are the greatest challenges facing our customers?  

Three things. 

1. Staying competitive in the market 

We help our customers cut costs for their peaker plants so they can manage intermittent loads while staying competitive in the market. 

“It’s about figuring out the niche of whatever assets they may own and how that factors into that being a lucrative investment for them.”  

2. Increased compliance regulation 

Our customers benefit from the compliance that’s built into our Center. We implement our policies, procedures, and standards for the remote operation of their assets.  

“So they can ensure they’re compliant, they’re safe, and they’re reliable.” 

3. Loss of experience 

Our Performance Center team helps our clients to minimize the risk of losing crucial expertise in the event of people leaving the firm:  

“My team literally mentors people in the control rooms at these plants that have less experience.” 

What differentiates our Performance Center?  

First, the sophistication behind the monitoring. Our AI sees when equipment is not operating as it should be and it tells us why: 

“It gives us an early warning, so we’re able to interact with the customer and prevent a revenue-losing event.” 

Secondly, the breadth of engineering knowledge. Our competitors don’t have a global pool of engineering expertise to call upon within 24 hours: 

“EthosEnergy actually manufactures and repairs generators and turbines. We have Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) scattered across the entire planet available to our performance center operators.” 

The secret to a rewarding career 

Finally, what advice would Daniel give to someone looking to enter the industry?  

Never stop learning. 

“In this business, you will find yourself in a position to look for learning in every single day, in every single interaction, with every single person that you come across. Never stop learning about the business you’re in. Because it can be a very rewarding career so long as you don’t become stagnant.” 

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