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Nooter/ Eriksen

Nooter/Eriksen and the Culture of Quality

Sasha Orman

Nooter/Eriksen President Tim Peterson and Executive VP Phil Hanks discuss what sets the company apart in the world of heat recovery steam generation
Nooter/Eriksen and the Culture of Quality

In today’s climate, many companies are searching for ways to increase their efficiency and cut their emissions. Nooter Eriksen, on the other hand, is a company that exists to help others meet those goals. The engineering contracting company, which specializes in heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), including emissions controls, is growing at a rapid rate and on a global scale – but it’s its strong corporate culture that helps to give Nooter/Eriksen its competitive edge.

Focusing on Employees, Leads to Employee Retention

What separates Nooter Eriksen from the competition? “If I was to pick one thing, it’s the culture that we have within our company,” says Tim Peterson, President of Nooter/Eriksen. “I think that’s probably the number one thing that drives our employee retention and that has made us successful.”

As he explains, it’s Nooter/Eriksen’s unique company structure that lends itself to employees truly and literally having a stake in their company’s success. “I think it really goes back to that we are an employee-owned company – you have to be an active employee to be a stockholder in the company, so it really makes people look at things  in a different light because everyone is a partial owner,” he saysIt helps us make different decisions than may be made by a public  company. In a publicly traded company you have to answer to stock analysts every quarter, we can look at it from a longer term position. Everybody’s an employee-owner, so we can make decisions that may not be the best short-term decision but in the long haul we think it’s probably a better overall decision for the company.”

That sort of structure has not only translated to a different way of making decisions, but a very different outcome from many businesses in the realm of employee retention and dedication. “Our culture has been described as a family-run business type of culture,” says Peterson. “We try to treat people fairly in everything we do – our compensation package is fair, we have a lot of perks and benefits that we feel keep our employees satisfied and engaged. It’s amazing when you look at the longevity of people within our company:  we have around 30 people that have more than thirty years with the company. We’ve had people recently retire with more than forty years. It’s incredible, especially in today’s market when you see how many companies have people who stay for a year or two and move on. Our turnover rate is less than 1 percent, and has probably been that way for the 25 years that we’ve been here.”

An Increase in Efficiency

The energy industry is changing every day, and it shows. “Years ago, a large gas turbine may have been 70 megawatts,” says Peterson. “Today, large gas turbines are over 300 megawatts and keep getting larger and pumping out more and hotter exhaust – so we’ve had to adjust our product to meet that demand.”

Indeed, the team at Nooter/Eriksen is hard at work every day keeping pace with the technical advances of the industry. “What really is the core of our thermal design is our own program that we’ve designed, and through the years it’s constantly being updated, based on performance testing we do versus predicted performances,” says Peterson. “We have our own wind tunnel in the building that we do testing on to make sure things are in line with what we expect.”  

The results of this diligence have been positive to say the least. “By adding our HRSGs behind these gas turbines, a plant is able to produce about 50 percent more electricity,” says Peterson. “N/E’s technology has been the number one HRSG technology in the world for last 10 years per the McCoy report – we’re very proud of that.”

A Focus on Diversification

Nooter/Eriksen may have a family business feel, but that should not be confused with a small business – the company is global and growing, with ongoing plans to increase its diversification into different markets through an increase in product offerings as well as an increase in global coverage through different branches and affiliates.

“Some years ago, we made an effort to avoid relying 100 percent on the ups and downs of the US power market,” says Peterson. “We’ve really changed our focus to diversify our marketplace, so we try to get at least half our work every year outside the US market.”

“We’ve worked in the US, Algeria, Thailand, Israel and Germany, and that’s just in projects we’ve received in the last six months,” adds Nooter/Eriksen Executive VP Phil Hanks. “So we’re definitely a worldwide business, and we’re also diversifying our business into solar – we have an exclusive relationship with a leading solar project developer for providing equipment for concentrated solar power projects.”

Rising Above the Rest

According to Peterson, what makes the Nooter Eriksen client experience different comes down to the way they’re treated – much like the company’s employees, Nooter/Eriksen believes in long term partnerships with its clients. “Customers typically have changes,” he says. “Rather than try to take advantage of this situation  we try to work through these issues fairly with our customer so that they are going to want to come back and be a customer again with us”

“Our vision is to be our Customers Preferred Choice, and creating the high quality customer experience is how we accomplish that,” adds Hanks. “We don’t just take an order and move on to the next customer: it’s really about building relationships and providing them with the extra value that they desire – once they place an order with us, they realize that there is extra value with Nooter/Eriksen, so they come back. We keep expanding on that extra value as we build a relationship.”

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