Flexible entrepreneur Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010
Winner
Power & Utilities

Keith Maxwell started his first business in college and spent his weekends distributing 500 pounds of lobster, swordfish and clams to hotels and restaurants.

In 1999, he switched his focus from lobster to utilities and founded Spark Energy, which, at the time, focused on wholesale energy.

Maxwell’s flexibility when it comes to business has always been an asset to him. As a new company, he quickly learned it would be wiser to focus on retail than on wholesale. And he doesn’t box himself into a plan that will not work. To compete with industry giants, the company rolls with the punches, and if Maxwell sees an opportunity in the market, he seizes it. As a result, in 2006, the company became the first retail energy provider to offer self-enrollment through its Web site.

This president and CEO likes to think of himself as a flawed perfectionist, someone who strives for the best and is not afraid to self-evaluate. During the recent economic downturn, he assessed his own progress and decided it was time to make some changes. Instead of hunkering down to ride out the tough times, he initiated a series of improvement programs that included upgrading systems, bringing on strong talent and engaging outside advisers to incorporate best practices. The effort resulted in two of the weakest departments blossoming into two of the best departments in the company.

Maxwell’s flexibility spills over into all aspects of his life. When a title sponsor for a Special Olympics event pulled out, Maxwell stepped up to the plate and his employees followed his lead. The company raised $140,000 in a few weeks, and 40 employees showed up to help.

Maxwell is enjoying the progress his company has made and plans to expand into the Canadian and U.K. markets within the next five years.

How to Reach: Spark Energy (713) 977-5611 or www.sparkenergy.com