The Richards Energy Group (REG) was established by Frank Richards on April 1, 1995, and the first office was set up in the dining room of Frank’s home in Landisville, PA. Frank felt there was a market niche for providing utility and energy consulting services for businesses, including electric rate analysis, energy audits and sales tax exemption audits. He dazzled potential clients with presentations on his state of the art, IBM “butterfly” Thinkpad laptop.
Implementation of Electric Deregulation in PA in 1999 made available a whole new way for Frank’s clients to save money, so in 1998, the REAP (Richards Energy Affinity Program) Group was born…Frank felt strongly that if he could band together his clients into a large, strong group, he could gain market clout and get better rates for them than they could get individually. So the whole REAP Group began enjoying deregulation savings in January, 1999, long before many businesses even knew about shopping for electricity. 1999 was the year we attained our PUC License as an electric Marketer/Broker as well.
As business improved, Frank came to the first of several crossroads…continue alone as a consultant, or hire employees and become a “real” business. The decision to officially expand was initially delayed by two part-time independent contractors who helped with sales, but was ultimately decided by Frank’s strong desire to meet clients’ needs, and REG’s first full-time employee was hired in December, 2001. (unless you count wife, Mary, and son, Pete, who were initially better categorized as indentured servants rather than paid employees).
Soon there were 3 full-time employees filling up the living room and part of the basement, which precipitated the next crossroad…moving to an office, which occurred in the summer of 2002. We found affordable space in a Quonset Hut that we rented from Amherst Industries on Nolt Rd. in Landisville. The building was erected in the 1940’s, and didn’t appear to have been modified since. The office area was somewhat unique, since the side walls were curved. But it filled three of our basic needs…it was out of our house, it was close, and it was cheap.
So with a lot of elbow grease and imagination, our office took shape. And our energy services expanded, and we hired a few more people. And in 2003, we became a corporation. It was during this time period that I got tired of telling customers every time I went to see them that they should replace their lighting, so we started actually doing lighting retrofits, which has become a major focus of REG.
The Quonset Hut had one great attribute…it was basically empty behind the original front office, so we were able to expand the office space twice as well as store lighting materials inside the building, so it worked well for us for 7 years. Then we discovered that the zoning was never modified for multiple uses on the property, which set up our next crossroad, and we eventually had to leave.
Fortunately, things always seem to work themselves out, and we found a beautiful stone farmhouse and barn with the right zoning, which we were able to purchase at an auction. In December, 2009, we moved to our present location on S. Chiques Rd, Manheim. We didn’t need to make any major changes, and basically moved right in to the farmhouse. And the barn has been a great place for lighting inventory. Since we have over 2 acres of property, we should be able to expand on site when that becomes necessary. Our current location provides a great venue for the REG of the future, as our “next generation” of dedicated, bright and qualified employees step up to the plate.
Today, REG staff still does energy and sales tax audits and utility consulting work, like Frank did back in 1995, but our three major emphases have become Electric Purchasing, Lighting Retrofits and PJM Demand Response Programs. And we are always looking ahead for new technologies and services…REG likes to be “leading edge” (but not “bleeding edge”) in its thinking, so we are always looking at how we can serve our clients better.