Getting to Know Shawn Altizer and G2 Integrated Solutions, a Q&A Session

EN has partnered with G2 Integrated Solutions (G2-IS), an asset integrity consulting leader, following its acquisition in December. Shawn Altizer, CEO of G2-IS, joined us for a few minutes to talk about G2-IS, his goals, challenges, and what he loves about this industry.

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself and why you chose this industry.

A: From a career perspective, most of my experience has been in professional services of some form or another. The bulk of what I would call my executive leadership experience has been in the energy sector with professional services companies. That would include engineering and technical service, oil and gas clients, and, in the case of G2, utility clients as well.

When I had the opportunity to come on board at G2, it was about three and a half years ago, and it was a natural fit for me. I’m slightly smarter today than I was three and a half years ago. (Laughs.) It depends on who you ask, I guess.

Q: What are your interests or hobbies outside of work?

A: When you get to certain roles and responsibilities, you have limited time outside of work because it absorbs you. So, when I’m not at work, I try to focus my time on my family and friends. That’s the number one thing.

I don’t have any hobbies and always admire those who have many outside interests. I’m more focused on my wife and my daughter and spending quality time with them because my energy can run a little low during a long week, and I want to make sure I’m able to do things with them.

Q: What are the top five things people should know about G2-IS?

A: That’s tough because there are so many to choose from. I’ll give you some of the things I think are either interesting and maybe contrary to the public perception of the organization or critical to how we operate.

First, and I think this reflects our management group, we’ve built a culture and environment that makes G2 a dynamic place for our people to work. Of the things that I’ve seen and helped with over the past three years, that’s the most critical to me.

Number two, which clients don’t see much when dealing with us, is how much we use software and data tools that we’ve created in-house to deliver. Also, we have our in-house developer group and numerous people on staff, both GIS and other functions, that can create applications that reside on top of fundamental GIS platforms. We use that skill and expertise to deliver service differently than most of our competitors.

I think one of the things that’s contrary to what people think of us is we’re often perceived as more of a gas pipeline services company, but, in reality, our largest clients are utility companies much like EN, and they make up the bulk of our revenue. We’re not a midstream-focused company–we are a utility-focused company with some midstream clients.

Another one would be geographical. We’re based in Houston, but we work for clients across the country, and we have a large concentration of both personnel and operations in the west–California, Las Vegas, and Arizona. We also have a significant operational base in India for technical support on projects, so we’re all over. It gives us flexibility that you wouldn’t expect from a traditional industrial-based Houston company.

Also, when you look at our public profile and the number of technical presentations and papers we present–dozens over the past three years–people expect us to be larger than we are. This information is across many different topics–anything from ILI anomaly detections and interpretations to using GIS and various things like vegetation management and how you model the overland flow of liquids from a spill.

Q: What are you most passionate about with G2-IS, and why?

A: This is a challenging question because my mind first went to our people and how much we care about finding, developing, and retaining the best people. But I think the number one thing that drives everything is service that exceeds client expectations. If you do that effectively, it takes care of all your other problems, and we’ve focused on that. You always have work to do, but when you do something for a client, whether it’s a small project or an ongoing large one, and you exceed their expectations, it makes your life a lot easier. You have a partner instead of a client, and your people are more engaged because the reaction from the client is great feedback and energizing for them. If we focus on that, and we’re passionate as an organization, it drives a lot of the other nuts and bolts.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: We’ve all had some challenging times over the past couple of years. I think what I’m most proud of with G2 and what we’ve done is our resiliency, the ability to go remote with an entire organization quickly. In three days, we went from planning a really strong growth year in 2020 to everybody working remotely, and that’s a huge shift.

We all remember those days in March of 2020 and how everything changed dramatically in a couple of weeks. The ability to do that without dropping any balls, to have a solid year for 2020 and a growth year in ’21, is a testament to the resilience of our people. We were able to do things that a lot of companies struggle with, and that’s the thing I’m most proud of.

It shows that your people are approaching this the right way and are dedicated to what they’re doing. If you can adapt to a once-in-a-lifetime experience that quickly and strongly, you can do anything.

Q: What differentiates G2-IS from its competitors?

A: The number one differentiator is how much we bring to bear with technology and the application of technology to our client work. I alluded to this when I spoke about our in-house development group, but it’s not just that; it’s also how we use data. We work across many functions, services, and disciplines for our clients, but how we collect, interpret, and present data to our clients is truly impressive.

It doesn’t sound complex, but it’s amazing how often a client doesn’t realize all the information they can have at their fingertips. It’s randomized data until they see it in a form they can understand.

It’s taking all of that data, whether it’s a field collection, a tank scan, or any frontline service, putting it in a form the client can use, and enabling the client to get the best value. That’s the main differentiator–what can be viewed as a commoditized service then becomes a value add.

Q: What similarities does G2-IS share with EN?

A: We have a lot of client overlap, but it’s not necessarily in the same area or the same type of service. As I mentioned, at G2, our largest clients are generally going to be utility companies. And while we may be working for client X over here in California, and so is EN, we’re doing it in completely different areas. There’s a lot of synergy because you can combine contacts, and your operations under one umbrella for the same client.

The other thing that stuck out to me when I was initially talking to the EN executive team is how similarly we approach our core services. EN is a little more engineering-focused than we are, as we have an engineering group and do a lot of specialized engineering, but it doesn’t form the backbone for everything we do. On the other hand, EN has a very strong GIS group with a lot of field services, and these are things we have in common, so we speak the same languages.

There’s a clear understanding across the organization of what we’re doing, how we’re doing it a little differently, and how we can do this in a complementary way. When you have similar but different types of services under the same umbrella, you get past a lot of the growing pains because you don’t have to learn the lingo. You already know each other’s lingo, and that helps a lot.

Q: What goals do you have for G2-IS?

A: The primary objective is continuing our growth trajectory. It means opportunities for everyone, and it’s more exciting. You don’t want to be stagnant in anything in life.

I have a very organic approach to how I view organizations. You want to have that growth, and the best way we do that as leaders and executives is by ensuring we’re doing the right things to help the company grow and, almost as important, not doing the wrong things to stifle that growth.

I have found that getting out of the way is often the best solution because you’ve hopefully worked hard to find the right people, cultivate them, and keep them on board and excited. They’re the ones that are going to drive your growth. When you open up new career paths for people, it’s more exciting.

Q: What challenges does G2-IS face?

A: The number one challenge, which is a broken record in today’s environment, is finding and retaining the best people. It’s an employee-driven market right now. I’ve got restaurants down the street from me that offer signing bonuses for busboys.

That shows you how difficult it is to find people, and the same applies to the talented and skilled people you want to lead that next wave of leadership for your organization. Anyone in a technical field has many more opportunities to pick and choose from. So, I think finding and developing those people and retaining them is critical.

Retention is often ignored in these discussions, but I prefer to think about talent retention. It’s a lot more painful to lose someone you wanted to keep than it is trying to find 10 new people.

The second thing is staying ahead of your competitors. I mentioned the importance of using technology and solutions, data, and more to deliver client work, but there’s also a marketing component to maintaining your thought leadership. It’s always a challenge to stay ahead of your competitors and to stay ahead of the direction your clients want to go. The second prong of that is how do we maintain that technical leadership?

Q: What do you find most interesting about this new partnership?

A: It’s the ability to leverage both of our organizations and move forward into a growth trajectory. There are so many things that EN does well, and they have amassed that we do not have. And I think there are things we do well that aren’t part of the end solution set.

So, how do we leverage those things, which are strengths on either side and offer them across both organizations? Because we have so many opportunities, the key will be how to focus on the right opportunities and leverage the strengths while not worrying about the weaknesses at this stage.

There’s a tendency to say you’re doing this wrong or you’re doing that wrong. Forget about that. Leverage the strengths, and eventually, weaknesses take care of themselves. In this environment, there are so many opportunities that we need to focus on the ones that we think are going to bring us the greatest return and the greatest long-term partnerships with our clients, and then let the details come as they may.

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