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July 6, 2015 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Engineering Services for Energy Consumption and Emissions Reduction


Guy Babbitt





Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – July 6, 2015


CEOCFO: Mr. Babbitt, what is the concept for Czero?

Mr. Babbitt: Czero is an engineering service company that is dedicated to working on technology innovations that reduce energy consumption and emissions. We work that across a bunch of verticals. We do a lot of work for the automotive industry, oil and gas and clean tech.


CEOCFO: What do you understand on a fundamental level about this industry that perhaps others do not?

Mr. Babbitt: I am not saying it is universal, but far too many people confuse invention and innovation. Innovating is the act of getting new products in place that scale and solve real world problems. Sometimes that includes inventing, but more often not.


There are two aspects to generating solutions to a problem that will scale. One is engineering, which is sometimes actually the easier part. Equally important, you have to make sure it is economically viable or it will not be a product and scale and have impact. We have been doing this technology development R&D in this space for quite a long time and have figured out how to work with our clients to generate solutions that address both aspects of the problem. Much of our work is very early stage R&D, so the earlier work may not be cost effective at this time, but there is a clear path to getting it so that it will be.


In regards to actually developing solutions for our clients we have figured out how to leverage some of the systems and processes you have in larger companies and apply them with the flexibility and nimbleness you get out of small companies. The result - rapidly and cost effective innovation.


CEOCFO: You work with public and private sector. Do you have a preference? How do you handle the challenges of working with the government?

Mr. Babbitt: We like working with both, and actually find that in our case the government is not that difficult to work with. There is a mountain of paperwork you have to get through and they can be pretty slow, but they are good about paying their bills. When they put a program together, as long as we are meeting our milestones, which we do, the program can be quite good. We find in some cases they can be easier to work with than some of our other clients because they plan better, are not so reactive and stick to the plan. As an engineering service company, we help cover the peaks in our client’s workload and they turn us off in the valleys. Sometimes in the private sector, that happens a little more than it does in the public sector.


CEOCFO: What are some of the biggest changes in technology that is really advancing the clean tech industry and helping you come up with the innovation?

Mr. Babbitt: Clearly we are seeing some pretty amazing technical advances in the clean tech arena that are helping increase market adoption, but I think equally important are people’s awareness and attitudes to some of the hidden costs and consequences related to many conventional energy sources. This is true at both at the individual citizen level and with government regulators that are introducing stricter environmental laws. Also, costs for renewable fuels and energy saving devices (such as hybrid vehicles) are in general coming down at the same time oil prices were going up (up until recently, of course but I think most people expect them to go back up at some point). This combination of technical and economic factors is really helping create a self reinforcing situation for clean tech markets where product volumes go up, prices go down and more is used further driving prices down.


CEOCFO: What types of projects do you find more interesting?

Mr. Babbitt: We really like working on very challenging problems and trying to do something that hasn’t been done before. Those are our favorite by far. Sometimes people have tried something before and maybe the technologies to draw from were not there or for whatever reason, it was not possible at an earlier time. Those are ones that are always high on our list here because they are real challenges. We also really like the problems that have the potential to make huge impacts. We do work on some types of renewable fuels and energy that might hold some promise in the future and those are really fun and some are a little more novel. We work in the oil and gas industry and there are opportunities to make that safer and cleaner. That is really exciting as well. Same for the auto industry. We have a reputation for solving tough problems so we get the good work.


CEOCFO: What is your geographic reach today?

Mr. Babbitt: At this point, all of our work is located in the United States although some of the clients are international companies with headquarters overseas. In the past we have worked with clients in Europe and Australia but are not doing so now but that is just a matter of circumstances. They were all great to work with.


CEOCFO: What do you look for in your people?

Mr. Babbitt: Our product is our people. We are a service company, so we take our hiring more seriously than anything else. First and foremost, we need people that are smart and good to work with. That means that they work well in teams, they are creative, they do not accept things at face value if it does not make sense. They need to be convinced, so they will challenge the status quo. They are willing to work hard on very difficult problems that on the surface may seem like a dead end but there is a glimmer of hope there. We have such an amazing team of people that will take those challenges on and very methodically with a ton of energy and start cracking these nuts and getting solutions where other people fail.


CEOCFO: Are you often constrained by the budget of a project?

Mr. Babbitt: The majority of projects we do on a time and material basis because the projects are at such an early stage they are ill defined enough that it is very difficult to do a fixed cost. That said, we have done a few projects fixed costs and they turned out fine. Doing projects time and material protects us and the customer. It protects us if the scope changes, yet at the same time allows our clients to be more flexible with the scope and keeps the costs down as we do not have to put a larger price on the project to cover the unknown. The majority of the projects we work on are what I would say amply funded. We work with some start-ups and we love it but sometimes those guys are challenged with funding constraints and we will never compromise the engineering especially if it involves safety.


CEOCFO: How do you work with Colorado State University?

Mr. Babbitt: We are co-located at Colorado State Universities Powerhouse Campus and are partners of the Colorado State University Energy Institute. We have been working with Colorado State researches for about 8 years now. As in-house partner of theirs we work with their researchers, start-ups, some spinning out of CSU and some that are coming to work at the energy institute. It is a great facility with awesome people. We love being part of that ecosystem


CEOCFO: In March, you added a new director of business development. Is there a new strategy going forward? Are you looking to expand?

Mr. Babbitt: We have been very fortunate to have strong growth and almost double in size each of the last three years in a row and are on track to do that again this year. Until recently, most of that growth came from repeat customers and new clients that were referred to us by existing clients. We did some networking here and there but very little formal business development. Having such strong reputation and customer loyalty is always a great place to start business development from but we got the point where we needed to be more deliberate on where and how we target our growth. Therefore, we hired Lyle Shuey to head up our business development. Lyle and I have worked together on and off since the 200 timeframe. I have a major respect for what he can do and he is already helping us get to the next level.


CEOCFO: What have you learned as the business has grown and developed? What might be different in your approach today and what might you understand now that you did not three or four years back?

Mr. Babbitt: I’m an engineer and I had one business class in the 90’s. We came at this from a very technology centric point of view and the whole thing has been a seven year MBA on the streets course. I have been surrounded by wonderful mentors and staff. We are just sticking to business 101, trying to deliver really high quality work, build long term relationships, and so far that seems to be paying off for us.


CEOCFO: Why choose Czero

Mr. Babbitt: Excellence, Commitment and Trust. Every project we take on we put our hearts into and won’t let up until we believe we have a great solution. That tenacity and commitment to excellence has earned us the trust of many clients. We have a stellar track record of delivering great work, on time, and within budget.


“In regards to actually developing solutions for our clients we have figured out how to leverage some of the systems and processes you have in larger companies and apply them with the flexibility and nimbleness you get out of small companies. The result - rapidly and cost effective innovation.” - Guy Babbitt





Guy Babbitt

(719) 331-9662







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