"We're Hiring Like Hot Cakes!": Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Grow Cincinnati-Area Jobs at Melink Corporation
“We’re hiring like hot cakes!”
That’s what the communications manager at Melink Corporation, based in Milford, Ohio, told us at the NRDC. And to confirm it, we called the company’s founder and president, Steve Melink: “Yup. In the last six months, we’ve hired 30 people,” he explained. Job growth at the company is so fast—rocketing up from 60 staffers to 100 in the last 18 months—that this summer, Melink Corporation won a special Manny Award for top growth from southwest Ohio’s Cincy Magazine.
With a stagnant local and national economy, what’s the secret to the organization’s success? Thinking ahead to the twin energy frontiers of efficiency and renewable energy. “In times of recession, companies need systems that cut costs and we answer that need,” Steve Melink says. “We save them money by saving them energy, or generating it, in the case of our renewable energy business.” But Melink does more than just that: Rather than simply profiting from the nation’s need for smarter ways to use and generate power, it models the new energy future for the businesses it serves: The company has a LEED platinum, net-zero headquarters—it uses solar arrays and wind turbines to produce as much energy as it consumes—that was recently dubbed the “33rd greenest building in the world.” “And that was before we made the improvements,” Melink says with a laugh.
Melink Corporation, located 20 miles east of Cincinnati, has a three-pronged approach its business development. The first and oldest of its operations makes sure building systems, especially heating and cooling systems, work at top efficiency. Its clients include large national restaurant chains and retailers, such as Chili’s, Target and Williams-Sonoma. “On average,” says Melink, “we’re reducing energy costs by 5-10 percent.” Fine-tuning operations and energy-efficiency have other advantages, too. “We make sure a building is comfortable for customers and employees,” Melink explains. “And, proper commissioning can prevent equipment from failing prematurely. Which means a financial savings in the long run.”
Melink’s next effort is an efficient commercial kitchen ventilation system that can save restaurants and institutions (hospitals, college campuses) 50 percent or more on their operating costs. “At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, millions of commercial kitchen hoods across the country are running full blast, even though there’s no one in the dining room,” Melink observes. “Our controls address that problem.” The systems are manufactured at Melink headquarters and sold across North America and Europe. “We pioneered the development of variable speed controls for this application,” Melink says. “Now, it’s going full steam.”
The third prong of its business—Melink’s eye on the future—is the development of renewable energy systems for companies and institutions, like the 1.5 megawatt solar canopy it built and opened this spring at the Cincinnati Zoo. “We provide financing, design,” Melink explains. “We’ll install it. We’ll even own it and operate it and sell the power back at a lower cost than the local utility.” If cloudy Germany, with less solar radiation than Ohio, can lead the world in installed solar capacity, Melink says, “we can create a market here in the Midwest.”
Melink is saving businesses and organizations money, and hiring like hotcakes, just when the area and the nation need that kind of hiring most.