The spirit of enterprise : vigilance and luck

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Président de Sithe/Energies USA Inc

Seminar Business life | Friday December 8, 1989

William Kriegel gave the participants food for thought with the tale of two entrepreneurs who, determined to make their fortunes, and frustrated by unrewarding careers in real-estate, decide to try their hands at building and running hydro-electrical power stations. Before long, France becomes too small to hold them, and they head for California to try their luck over there. In his presentation, William Kriegel shows us all of the steps, the difficulties, the decisions, alliances, failures and elements of luck that contributed to making the company he created into the leading independent producer of energy in the States. William Kriegel also tells us about the management styles and structures used in his company, which he believes play a critical role when it comes to maintaining their competitive edge. This is a success story. It has strong flavourings of the Wild West. But the cowboy is a Gaul. This is the tale of an enterprising businessman who, determined to make his fortune, sets out for California to build hydro-electrical power stations and sell electricity to the local electricity companies. At the beginning, our hero had a tough time, and it was two years before he earned his first fistful of dollars. But in the space of six years he has managed to build a successful company that had a turnover of $ 120 million in 1989, $ 200 million in 1990 and an estimated $ 500 million in 1992. The company is number one in the States of all the independent producers of energy. The company owns 19 working power stations, 4 more are under construction and 10 more are on the way. There are 250 employees, 180 of whom are involved in the day to day running of the power stations, and the other 70 are some of the best qualified managers to be found on the market (MIT, Harvard). Their job is to bring in new contracts and create new projects. Like all success stories told in the business world, this one never fails to trigger the usual round of questions from those listening. Was the success planned or was it accidental? How much of it was due to luck? What are the secret recipes for success?

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