When Greg Saunders tells us that “having patience” was perhaps the quality that most contributed to his first appointment as a CFO back in the early 1990s, we wonder how many additional years a more impatient Saunders (then only 32) may have needed before stepping into the CFO office.
Of course, then again, a railcar leasing and repair business might not have been the first choice of many aspiring Bay Area CFOs, who as a group have for decades preferred to satisfy their C-suite ambitions via the area’s high tech companies.Read More
“I remember thinking back in the early ’90s that maybe I should jump into the tech sector, but I stuck it out and I’m glad that I did,” reports Saunders, who 5 months after joining Transcisco Industries as a corporate development executive was helping the company to manage through a bankruptcy.
“I was suddenly involved in everything—the attrition at the company was crazy, and I was able to take on more responsibility,” recalls Saunders, who notes that Transcisco’s rapid downturn of fortune had occurred when a much celebrated luxury passenger train project collapsed due in part to the firm’s limited capital resources.
“Because of all of the attrition across the company, I was able to take on more and more roles, and guess what? I became a young CFO of a publicly traded company,” comments Saunders, before once more crediting his “patience” with helping him to nurture a mind-set that encouraged “sticking around” and finding solutions.
Along the way, Saunders says, he became tasked with fighting off a hostile takeover and ultimately negotiating a successful merger, which he credits with helping the company’s stock price to jump up to $6 per share—after trading at as low as 12 cents.
Says Saunders: “For me, it was just a great experience for many different reasons, including learning the rewards of sticking things out.” –Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: Tell us about Ygrene Energy Fund. What are its offerings?
Saunders: Ygrene Energy Fund is a nonbank lender that has a very strong mission around providing affordable and accessible financing for home owners and business owners to help them to make their properties higher-performing from an energy standpoint, safer, and more resilient in the face of things like hurricanes, flooding, and fires. We finance all of these things, which add tremendous value to commercial and residential real estate. They include solar energy; energy efficiency measures like new, efficient air conditioning or heating systems; new windows; and new insulation. Such things help folks not only to save money on their energy bills but also to feel safer. In the case of our business in Florida, we reduce people’s insurance premiums because they’ve got 200 miles-per-hour–grade windows and doors installed to help save their home from the increasing ravages of climate change.Read More
The whole thing is around helping to mitigate climate change from the standpoint of lowering CO2 emissions and then, secondly, helping communities to adapt to what is evident as the already terrible outcomes from climate change. This is our mission and the purpose. What it shows up as is hundreds of millions of dollars a year that we originate in loans that are actually parcel tax assessments that we place on individual properties. These are voluntary for the property owner and are secured as an assessment, just like your ordinary property tax payments and other things that are attached to your parcel, such as the local school bond, the local healthcare bond, and so on. This provides a very secure form of financing that we’re able to make available to a much broader group of constituents than we might not be able to help otherwise.
Many home owners cannot afford to make important upgrades to their property, so that’s where we come in with 20- to 30-year financing terms that spread out the costs of these kinds of improvements over time and result in a pretty low payment. That’s our entire business. We earn money as a nonbank lender, and we’re very proud to use financial innovation in our products to deliver this kind of value to society.
Ygrene Energy Fund | www.ygrene.com | Petaluma, CA