If you spend any time at the offices of Community Energy Services Corporation (CESC), no doubt you will soon cross the path of Max Guglielmelli, an outgoing employee with what you might call a bubbly personality and a genuineness that puts people at ease.
Max’s official title is Operations Liaison, which means he assists the construction manager, Gregory Clark, in making sure CESC’s residential programs run smoothly, and he handles some simple installations for the program that serves businesses.
Max joined CESC in 2015 as a construction technician, after his brother had joined the company. “My brother asked Greg, ‘Do you want two of me?’ and Greg responded “Yes!” So he hired me.” Max worked about five months as a technician and has been the operations liaison for nearly two years. “I gave my two weeks’ notice, since I found the repair work a bit repetitive, but then Greg found another position for me. It made me feel good that CESC wanted me to stay.”
Max likes that in his new role he gets to have his fingers in many pies and that he is trusted to get the job done. “My boss tells me what he wants, but not how to do. I get to figure out how to do it.”
“Number one, I’m in charge of inventory, which is awesome because I feel that now the warehouse is my own little shop. I set it up the way I like it. And I try to set it up in a way that makes it easy for the guys to find things.” It’s a matter of pride for him that the inventory is there for when the construction technicians need it.
Max is also in charge of the LED lighting inventory, and he also handles some installations of lights for business customers himself. Sometimes clients experience difficulties with the new LED bulbs in older rail or track fixtures, and until recently, he had difficulty explaining why this was happening. Now, after nearly a year of experience installing and researching the lighting issues, he has an explanation of what is happening that is easy to understand.
“What happens is that with some lights that we install, we’re getting some “flickering” problems. I’ve learned some ballasts (devices that control the flow of electricity) in fluorescent fixtures aren’t completely compatible with the extremely low wattage of today’s LED technology. The ballasts are expecting a big energy draw, like they get from the fluorescent lights, but the LEDs draw very little energy.”
How does Max fix that for customers? Trading out some of the new LEDs just installed and reinstalling some of the older fluorescents until the buzzing disappears, along with a rational explanation of what he is doing. Today, for example, at one business he slowly started trading out LEDs for fluorescents until the buzzing and flickering went away. The answer, he says, is to use slightly more energy than was planned; the client is still saving energy, just not the maximum anticipated.
Max’s boss recently put him in charge of acquiring building permits for the Home Repair program jobs, which is something he had no experience in. He soon found out, though, that the City of Berkeley building permit officials are all business. You have to get in there quickly and be ready with all the details. They don’t want you to waste their time. “My first few times were hard, but I just took the critiques–they kept asking ‘Why don’t you have this? Why don’t you have that’–and I kept smiling, but I was learning.” So Max built a folder with all the permit essentials (forms, water heater information, and other items) in it. So by the third or fourth time applying for a permit, he was completely prepared. “When they told me I needed something, I had it in the folder, ready to go.” He is also ready to think on his feet.
Even though Max is no longer considered part of the installation crew, he sometimes takes part in an installation if he is needed. But his experience with the crew helps him make decisions in ordering. He knew that the blankets used to insulate water heaters were just plain itchy and uncomfortable; no one liked working with them. So he worked with his boss to find softer blankets to order.
A veteran, Max left the Army in 2010; he then went to school to learn computer game design, but he found out that a job like that requires a lot of research on your own time. A hard worker, he nonetheless values his time away from work. “With computer game design, you go home and you keep working. But for me, it’s, ‘No, I have one life to live!’”
His service in the Army was under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a challenging time for him. A favorite part of the job for Max is travelling to LED installation jobs in Marin County, which is a drive of at least 45 minutes each way. He sings in the car, or practices lip syncing to songs. Max recently became a drag queen, “Miss Spell,” and lip syncing practice has helped him in this role.
If Max could choose just one aspect of CESC’s work to promote, it would be to dispel people’s skepticism about the residential energy efficiency program. Occasionally, clients are defensive; some of them think the program, which is completely free to the client, must be some kind of scam. “I want to educate people about that little tax that PG&E puts on your energy bill (PPP surcharge) to create a pool of money that funds programs like ours, programs that help low-income residents lower their energy bills through energy efficiency. I try to be nice and smile and to assure them I’m there to help.”
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