Jeremy Guillory had been dreaming of starting a business since he first graduated from LSU engineering school, but he found it difficult to break out on his own while also working his regular nine to five engineering gig.
“It’s a pretty monumental task to start an engineering firm,” Guillory says.
The only solution, he decided, was to go “all in.” Guillory and his wife sold their house and moved in with her mother to save money. They poured the equity from the house into the business and lived as lean as possible while he got his new Baton Rouge-based firm, Moment Engineering, up and running. He leased an office, purchased software, hired his first employee, then hit the streets looking for clients. “I started out knocking on doors,” he says.
A little more than a year later, the gamble has paid off. The business, which focuses on engineering projects for chemical plants and refineries, is thriving and growing — and the couple has moved their family into a home of their own.
Guillory says other entrepreneurs should similarly be willing to take drastic steps and wager everything they have on their business dreams. “If you can’t do that or you won’t do that, it’s probably not for you,” he says.
After Guillory graduated from college, he began approaching companies who needed help with overflow engineering work. “I stayed busy doing that for a while, until the oil and gas decline,” he says.
Guillory decided to return to school for a second degree — this one in petroleum engineering — and graduated in 2010, a month before the Deepwater Horizon accident threw the state’s oil and gas industry into chaos.
Guillory eventually landed a position at the Baton Rouge office of Dallas-based engineering firm Jacobs, which he credits with expanding his understanding of the field. “I saw this whole, bigger new world of engineering,” he says. He worked at the firm for five years, secured his professional engineering license and laid the foundation for his own business.
All along the way, his family was supportive of his entrepreneurial ambitions. “My family provided and continues to provide tremendous support in my efforts to grow a business,” he says. “Family support on both sides has been critical to the level of success I have had in the first year.”
In the early days of running his own company, Guillory says he realized he needed to focus less on the day-to-day engineering work and more on building relationships with potential clients. It was a difficult step to take, he says, for someone with a successful career as an engineer but little sales experience.
“For a lot of people who start businesses, it’s really hard to let go of your day-to-day responsibilities because you think that nobody else can do it as well as you can,” he says.
Dedicating more of time to sales immediately paid dividends. His two-person engineering team quickly had more work than it could handle.
“The key to sales is to be genuine,” he says. “If you believe in your product, you’re genuine and you really do have something special that you care about … you can always talk about it with a passion. People can sense you’re genuine about what you have and who you are.”
As the company continues to grow, Guillory says he is looking to take on additional engineering help to allow him to focus on securing new business. He has already been able to leverage his previous experience working with overseas engineering teams to improve his firm’s value proposition for clients.
Moment has developed its own value-added engineering office to offer additional expertise and labor capacity for clients at competitive rates typically only available for very large firms. The company is able to field a multi-discipline project team with a wide range of experience from alterations and upgrade projects to capital-expansion and greenfield projects.
“Our quality is on par with anyone, but we can provide clients with the opportunity to be more flexible with their capital,” he says. “If you can save companies money, they’re going to want to hire you.”
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