Travis Ziebro, Bryan Burkholder, and Alex Edmondson of PunchList Zero caught up with Claudio Gutierrez, President and Founder of Valens Project Consulting. VPC provides quality project management, consultations, and engineering services to numerous companies nationwide.
PL0: Please give us a brief introduction to Valens and its origin story.
As my career progressed like that of a typical engineer (draftsman, product design engineer, applications engineer, engineering manager, etc…), I had a chance to see lots of corporate America. These were the regular 9-5 jobs with little to no change or variation. After doing this for over a decade, and finding monotony almost too easy, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, so I started offering small companies drafting and operational efficiency support. By doing this, I found that there was a definite need for project management and consulting in a lot of smaller and local companies.
When I got laid off in 2017, I immediately dove straight into the consulting world. When I first entered this industry, I often found myself getting low-balled by many companies due to my lack of exposure and experience for my age. So, instead of settling for less, I took the jump and started Valens, and the rest is history.
PL0: How has the entrepreneurship journey been so far? Any big lessons you have learned?
Throughout my time in corporate America, most of my jobs were with smaller companies. Because of this, I was forced to wear many hats and become very versatile. Rather than just focusing on engineering, I was also getting involved with marketing, business development, presentations, etc. Gaining these “people skills” as an engineer seemed like a hassle at the time, but turned out for the best as it has helped me significantly in my switch to an entrepreneur role. Having a vast and unique skillset definitely plays a large part in being a successful business owner.I spend a lot of my time doing sales and marketing, trying to find projects and opportunities that catch my eye and excite me. One thing I’ve learned during my time as a business owner that they don’t teach you in school is that everything revolves around sales and communication. The better you can get your name out there and impress more people, the more successful you and your company will be. I wish I had discovered this earlier, but better late than never. Whether it’s on social media or at a networking event, the number of connections you can create is infinite in value.
PL0: Where do you see Valens in 10 years? Are there any certain goals you want to reach or areas you’d like to expand in?
Overall, I have three main goals for Valens: Name Recognition, Growth, and Networking.
Me being who I am, I’m always trying to get in over my head. For starters, I’m hoping to bring in more full-time engineers soon that can help with large projects and take some of the load off of the shoulders of my curated teams. Project-wise, I’m always chasing the monsters. Recently, we acquired our biggest deal yet with a big oil and gas services company doing some software project management for them, and I think it will be a great stepping-stool. I enjoy doing work for these large companies not only for the cash, but also because they offer extensive connections that can help us continue to grow. Plus, cutting through the red tape and inefficiencies of corporate America is always satisfying.
Then, name recognition. If people think about project management, I want Valens to pop into their heads. I’ve gotten some glimpses of this recently, as a lot of my clients have begun referring to us as VPC. Something about having an abbreviation for your company makes it seem like it has arrived, kind of like when Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to the cooler-sounding KFC! I want to be a trusted brand not only in Houston or Texas, but all of North America. We have customers in Seattle and Miami, and I hope to continue to spread across the US as much as possible.
PL0: What are the next steps for Valens in order for you to accomplish these goals?
I network like crazy. I’m always networking and trying to expand my outreach and influence. A lot of times people think that networking is strictly for real estate or insurance agents, and that’s just not the case. I’ve become very involved on social media sites, especially LinkedIn, and I think there has been significant growth as a result of these accounts. I’ve tried my best to stay active on all of the major social media sites, but LinkedIn has definitely paid the most dividends so far. Networking has played and will continue to play a huge role in Valens’ expansion and growth.
I also firmly believe that if we want to earn the status of being a big-time company, it can’t just be a one-man show most of the time. That’s where finding more quality employees comes in. If we can continue to get these big projects, it will allow me to bring in dedicated teams year-round and continue to build the foundation of Valens.