What do we do?

Question: In 1998 you left one of the world’s best-known power engineering firms, where you were respected and productive, to strike out on your own.  Why did you do it, and how has it worked out?

Dr. Hyde Merrill: It boils down to

   *  Clients,
   *  Focus,
   *  Resources, and
   *  Services.

As expected, we serve a broad range of clients.  We’ve had lots of experience with utilities - I know the engineering, economics, and management of that business very, very well - and we haven’t neglected them.  But we also seem to add great value to the other players in the market, in the US and abroad, helping them while helping this vital sector evolve.  Our clients since 1998 include traditional utilities, IPPs, ISOs, self-generators, power marketers, newly privatized foreign utilities, international banks, universities, training organizations, governments and regulators, etc.

Q: You’ve done excellent work in power engineering and operations research, in economics and mathematics.  What are you focusing on now, and why?

HM: If there is one word that sums up the challenges and opportunities in electric power in North America and abroad, the word is risk.

Almost everything we’ve done since 1998 has had an important risk component.  Most of our work has had to do with restructuring.  Work in this arena requires competence in all the fields you mentioned.

Q: What about applying your expertise in other areas?

HM: Look, we haven’t buried any tools.  If anything, we add to them with opportunistic partnerships.  But a small firm cannot afford to push forward in many directions.  No matter what the assignment, we bring everything we have to it - but with special emphasis on solving problems involving uncertainty and risk.

Q: Is "opportunistic partnerships" one of the resources you referred to earlier?

HM: Sure.  And our clients come out way ahead because we aren’t biased to maximize the use of in-house staff.  As a small firm, we have to bring in outside help on many jobs.  Absolutely top-notch project teams are created - and with low overhead for our clients to pay.  You get the exact skills mix you are looking for this way.

For instance, we did a major study for ISO New England.  My subcontractors included a very fine software/database firm, one of the world’s premier boiler manufacturers, and two independent consulting engineers - at the top of their fields - with more than a century of experience between them.  In addition we accessed privately-owned databases belonging to still other companies.  The client got the flexibility of dealing with a small firm along with resources that not even the largest companies have under one roof.

For highly specialized engineering or economics or whatever, geography is no restriction.  For example, we worked with a very fine company from Chile on a tricky problem in China.  We know the best people world-wide.  I've worked with many of them.  We use them.

Q: This sounds like a management nightmare!

HM: It’s not.  Our partners are pros.  We are all experienced in forming highly-effective project teams.  We know how to make this work.

Q: Get specific.  Exactly what are you doing for your clients?

HM: Ok, I will.  Five services we provide are:

   *  Consulting,
   *  Research,
   *  Training,
   *  Software and database development, and
   *  Testimony.

Q: It sounds like you are well-positioned and doing well.  Success to you!

HM: Thank you!

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