117: Richard Lamondin (EcoSystems)

Richard Lamondin on Innovation City

“Focus. There are always shiny objects, but right now you need to win one gold metal at a time.” — Richard Lamondin

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Richard Lamondin, Co-founder & CEO of EcoSystems. EcoSystems is a nationwide leader in water and energy conservation. Richard sits down with the team to discuss how he and his brother started EcoSystems, the importance of speaking your customer’s language, educating others about water and energy conservation, the challenges that come with rapid scaling, his advice for business growth success, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Richard and his brother knew early on that they wanted to start an environmentally-friendly company
  • Through some research they found some shocking stats about water usage:
    • US wastes 1 trillion gallons of water each year
    • 20% of all toilets in the US are leaking right now
  • To date, EcoSystems has installed over 80K toilets nationally
  • How they evaluate if a property is viable for their program
  • Using 2 different languages with customers:
    • Mission
    • Return on investment
  • They have installers in-house, so the entire process is handled under the EcoSystems name
  • EcoSystems has 7 teams that travel nationally to execute projects
  • Keeping the company geographically neutral has helped them scale at a national level
  • Richard teaches all employees to meet customers where they are, rather than pushing their own agenda first
  • EcoSystems has been in roughly 125 cities and 26 states across the country
  • They have saved over 2 billion gallons of water and 50K tons of carbon
  • When they first started, water conservation was not a popular topic of interest
  • There is still a long way to go with water and energy conservation
  • Their first project was a catalyst for their big break shortly after
    • Referrals have been a large part of their continued success
  • The company’s growth has been rapidly growing since 2016
    • 2016 revenue at $150K to 2019 revenue at $10mil
  • Doing more with less as they continue to improve their internal systems
  • The challenges of setting up operations, logistics, & internal systems for a rapidly growing company and team
  • Richards advice for growth success:
    • Focus on your main goals first before branching out to other things
    • Remember that it’s okay to be profitable – spend time on generating revenue instead of constantly only investing into the product
    • Every founder is a salesperson (whether they want to be or not)
    • Have the right team who are committed to your mission early on
  • What does Richard look for when hiring the right team:
    • Before anyone is hired (regardless of the position applied for), they are required to be on a job and understand what it takes to finish the job
    • Employees should have an entrepreneurial mindset
    • People who are willing to fill gaps that are not in their job description
  • There is an advantage in being willing to get your hands dirty
  • Looking to utilize new technologies in the future still with an appreciation for hands-on work
  • Reach out to EcoSystems on their website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & LinkedIn