GREILICKVILLE — No two days are alike for Jennifer Stoll — and that’s exactly why she looks forward to coming to work each day.
Stoll is the owner and CEO of Utility Reduction Analysts, a Traverse City-based business that helps companies lower their electric, gas, water, waste, telecom and cellular costs by analyzing utility rules, regulations and tariffs.
“I look forward to every day,” said Stoll. “There’s always a new problem or a new opportunity. I like getting everyone around the table and asking how can we work this out,” she added.
URA also works with clients in problem solving, on special projects and resolution of vendor issues.
“Our goals are to help the company lower costs, better understand their fees, improve vendor care and relationships if needed,” said Stoll. URA charges on a shared savings plan, which means they only get paid if they find savings for the client.
URA opened its doors in 1991. Stoll joined the company 20 years ago as the vice president. She became a majority owner in 2004 and sole owner in 2008.
By industry standards, URA is considered a niche boutique business with eight full-time employees. But the company’s clients typically are $20 million to multi-billion-dollar international companies.
“Our clients range from automotive to non-profits to hospitals, as the same principles work for different industries,” said Stoll.
Many clients are headquartered in Michigan but have locations across the United States. Most have 10 or more locations.
URA also works with smaller clients if it’s the right mix, Stoll said.
Clients include Mott Community College, Memorial Medical Center and Coldwell Banker.
She said she feels blessed that technology like video conferencing and other Internet-based communication methods, which make it possible for URA to be headquartered in Traverse City. The office has been in the CenterPointe building on S. West Bayshore Drive for 11 years.
Stoll believes URA is successful because of its ability to build relationships. That means getting a client results while respecting their time. That also means that clients don’t hesitate to recommend the company.
“Our main source of new business is from trusted relationships, or they heard of us from somebody they regard,” said Stoll. “That’s a blessing.”
URA also couples old-fashioned customer service with state-of-the-art technology that allows clients to see real-time data that results in customized outcomes.
“Even though we are a cost-reduction provider, what our real gift is that we are reliable, we’re trusted and we take the complex and we make it simple,” explained Stoll.
URA has consistently grown over the years. Stoll credits that to her team and business philosophy — which is to live by the golden rule.
“I love that we truly care about the people we serve and that we’re nice doing it,” she said. “We don’t bang our fists on the table.”
The staff works together as a team, adapting to the needs of the clients and teammates.
“We’ve been through trials: cancer death of loved ones, having children, teenagers, disabilities, etc. with clients and our team,” said Stoll. “We’ve stuck together by the grace of God, through it all.”
Stoll also has navigated the rigorous application process to become a certified woman-owned business.
In 2015, more than 9.4 million firms were owned by women. Certified women-owned businesses employed nearly 7.9 million people and generated $1.5 trillion in sales, according to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.
The certification gets URA in front of companies and prospects. But no one signs up with your business because you are a woman-owned business, said Stoll.
“We still need to prove our value to companies,” she said. “Certification allows us to participate in events and resources available through Supplier Diversity conferences and events,” she added.
Stoll said that today URA has more clients than ever. She plans to increase staff in the next year.
“We’re very fortunate to be very busy and have great clients and we hope that just continues to grow,” she said.
Technology and growing complexities with utilities means their job isn’t getting any easier, but Stoll is undeterred.
“As Sherlock Holmes said, ‘It’s all so deliciously complicated.’”