Leading the Way
Woman-owned Voltrek surges ahead with turnkey solutions for deploying electric vehicle infrastructure
Efficiency. Sustainability. Economic growth. Energy security. These are some of the primary benefits provided through electrified modes of transport, including electric vehicles (EVs), which have become increasingly popular in recent years. Approximately 1.5 million EVs traverse the country’s roadways today, but researchers at the Edison Electric Institute predict this figure will jump to 18.7 million by 2030, requiring nearly 10 million charging stations to meet consumer needs. Right now, there are only about 25,000 such stations available to the public.
Clearly, a lot is riding on what happens over the course of the next decade to keep pace with a surging demand for clean transportation options. Fortunately, the team at Massachusetts-based Voltrek has the experience, proficiency and industry connections necessary to continue expanding this essential EV charging infrastructure.
“Our goal at Voltrek is to be an instrumental agent of change promoting electric energy as an alternative transportation fuel in the United States,” says Founder and CEO Kathleen Connors. “We are a team of highly specialized experts on all things related to EV charging. It is not just our core business—it’s our only business.”
An Intriguing Opportunity
Connors’ journey into the world of clean transportation solutions is quite unique. Before launching Voltrek in 2010, she had worked for multiple high-profile investment firms. She was in the prime of a successful and lucrative career when she decided to take a break from her fast-paced work life and spend some quality time at home with her two children. About a year later, as she was contemplating her next career move, a former colleague presented her with intriguing intel about an uptick in activity within the emerging EV infrastructure sector. Her interest was piqued.
“I actually enlisted a friend, Michelle Broussard, an energy economist, and we flew to the West Coast to meet with university and municipality representatives who had previously launched an unsuccessful EV curbside project. We conducted due diligence to see what they had done, and what they were looking to do in the future. Our goal was to figure out whether electric vehicles were actually going to take off, or just fizzle out,” she says. After their research revealed viable business prospects within the field, Voltrek was born. The pair dived right into learning everything they could about the plug-in electric vehicle market as they worked to define their business model for the charging station installations. Then, they hit the road with a small demo unit to educate electrical inspectors on the concept, providing guidance on electrical codes and how the stations would be installed and function. “They called us the two Voltrek girls!” Connors recalls, laughing.
Voltrek also partnered with a local contractor to perform the work, then became a state-approved vendor. Before long, the company was winning bids with highly recognizable clients such as the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the city of Boston, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Fidelity Investments and others taking advantage of increased federal funding for new charging stations.
“In the beginning we only expected to capture a tiny percentage of the work…we were shocked when we ended up winning the majority of projects in our region—and we weren’t always the lowest bidder,” Connors says.
She explains that many clients were unfamiliar with the nuances of EV technology, which is why they chose to work with the knowledgeable team at Voltrek. “We were the only people that had the answers,” Connors says. “At that time, the alternative was to work with an electrical contractor that only provided a spec on what circuit breaker and wires were needed to run the machinery. They couldn’t answer a single question about how the charging station operated, or how much it was going to cost to maintain over the long term, or what to charge the driver, etc. They were just installing a piece of hardware.” But Voltrek could provide all this information and more, which Connors says made clients feel comfortable with moving forward with their EV programs.
Persistence Pays Off
The first few years were lean times for Voltrek—the company didn’t even net $1,000 in revenue its first year. Though the firm quickly earned a positive reputation for its distinctive expertise, it was not until the late 2010s that the EV sector started to pick up momentum and bigger, more profitable jobs became available.
Connors used personal savings to bankroll the business, which she operated out of her home initially. Broussard was instrumental in helping Connors run the company in the early years, but moved on to another job opportunity in 2012 and has continued to stay in touch. By 2016, work had picked up enough for Voltrek to lease an office space in Methuen—which was fortunate for Connors, who jokingly shares how her close-knit team was “eating her out of house and home.”
In 2019, the projects really started rolling in. “Last year was an awesome year. We earned a really respectable profit, and I was able to offer nice bonuses and set up 401(k) plans for all of our employees,” Connors says. “For me, there’s great value in building an organization where I feel like people are happy coming to work, take pride in what they’re doing, and have a good quality of life.”
Meet the Voltrek Crew
In addition to Connors, a hands-on business owner who relishes face-to-face interactions with clients in the field, the staff includes Phil Iannazzi, Paul Lescovitz and Steve Giordano.
“Phil has been with me since nearly the beginning. He is my master electrical designer and project manager, and also owns a separate contracting business that we sub out to a lot,” Connors says, adding, “Most of what I know about electrical design and construction, I learned from Phil.” She continues, “Paul joined Voltrek over three years ago and is my right-hand guy in charge of service and operations. Steve, who has an extensive business development background, started working here last year and is solely dedicated to client engagement and sales.”
The business has also become a family affair, with her mom, Peggy, and sister-in-law, Kristen, also working at the company. Peggy helps out part time with accounts payable/receivable while Kristen handles administrative tasks such as filling out grant forms, mapping out clients’ sites, and handling other day-to-day responsibilities to keep operations running smoothly.
“We look forward to growing our team this year to keep up with the increasing demand,” Connors says.
A Powerhouse of Expertise
Since its inception, Voltrek’s planning, installation, maintenance and other services have enabled hundreds of clients to build commercial EV charging stations across the Northeast. The company’s primary service territories include Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
“We primarily work with municipalities, government agencies, private companies/institutions, commercial property developers, and parking and property management firms. In addition, we partner with contractors tasked with supplying EV stations as part of their scope of work,” Connors says. To increase its bidding opportunities, the operation is certified as a women’s business enterprise and a disadvantaged business enterprise and, in New York City, as a women-owned business enterprise.
Voltrek is proud to offer a comprehensive suite of services, including a three-phase, turnkey approach to deploying EV infrastructure.
“Our team possesses a deep understanding of the economic, environmental and cultural impact of our nation’s energy resources, both available and dwindling, which enabled us to create our proprietary turnkey solution,” Connors says. This customizable package includes siting, planning and permitting services, project management, recommendations on appropriate signage and ground markings, station programming and testing. Voltrek even goes the extra mile to help clients identify and secure grant money or other federal or state funding when it is available.
Additionally, the firm offers continuous 24/7 support to ensure all infrastructure placement, and later operations, run smoothly. “A lot of other companies don’t provide continual monitoring, preventative maintenance and service calls after the installation is complete. We’ve found that these offerings give customers peace of mind that we will continue to serve their needs in the long term,” Connors explains. Voltrek also conducts educational demonstrations and training for infrastructure developers and other interested parties as well as industry professionals such as electrical contractors that perform independent hardware installations.
Key Partnerships & Transformative Projects
Voltrek’s team members work collaboratively to manage projects of all scope and scale, including those for major energy providers such as National Grid and Eversource, which have deployed “make-ready” programs to essentially speed the installation of publicly accessible EV charging stations. Voltrek is proud to serve as the lead contractor for National Grid’s program and as an approved vendor for Eversource’s program.
Because each project has unique planning and operational elements, Voltrek works with many industry-leading manufacturers to deliver suitable, custom solutions to clients. “Most of what we sell and install is from ChargePoint, which has built the largest EV charging network and most complete set of charging solutions on today’s market,” Connors says. Other key partners include ABB, EVBox, BTCPower, Greenlots, EV Connect and others.
Voltrek’s innovative and forward- thinking approach to projects is one reason the firm stays top of mind with clients. “We are often on the forefront of new ideas,” Connors confirms. “For instance, we worked with MassDOT to install the first ADA-accessible fast chargers on the Massachusetts Turnpike.” Currently, two of the company’s biggest projects are for global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “AstraZeneca, on the outskirts of Boston, is installing over 200 charging ports in its garage for employees. MIT is building a large, new facility and garage and installing 90 charging ports,” she adds.
Call the Experts!
Today, after years of hard work and personal sacrifice, Connors says her company is finally getting the traction it needs to truly grow and thrive. Perhaps it would have been simpler to throw in the towel and return to her previous career. But for a highly motivated person like Connors—always optimistic that perseverance will eventually yield a worthwhile payoff—she stayed the course to prove she could build a viable business in this niche market. Mission accomplished.
The social mission of pushing for a more electrified transportation system is another powerful motivator. Such a transition would deliver numerous economic, environmental and cultural benefits—from cleaner air and reduced carbon output, to less expensive vehicle operating costs for consumers, to job creation and more.
To date, Voltrek has installed more than 1,350 charging points, helping to avoid 1.5 million kilograms of greenhouse emissions in 2020 alone. Furthermore, Voltrek’s customers have supported upward of 334,000 charging sessions this year, which Connors says is akin to planting nearly 70,000 trees and letting them grow for a full year.
She points out that many other types of companies have noticed the growth occurring in the EV industry and, resultingly, have added charging stations to their offerings. However, few can compete with Voltrek’s depth of knowledge, extensive experience and impressive portfolio of clients.
“The relationships we have created and maintained since our inception are a large part of who we are today. As one of the leading installers in this infrastructure market, we want to continue doing our part to help everyone be green!” Connors says, adding, “If you have questions about station models, policies, best practices, building codes, utility costs, charging times, charging standards, etc., call the experts at Voltrek.”