Expected to become an employee-owned company, Utility Service Express (USE) will be more than a vendor relationship with the utility companies, according to Warner. Depending on the company’s success, Warner may nationally franchise USE.
“We’re excited about this venture,” said Warner, whose new business will employ about 65 people. “We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback, especially about our new trucks.” Warner said he started the new business in response to radical change occurring within the PHC industry. “Service contractor consolidators already pose a major threat to independent companies or companies that appear to be independent.”
The utilities are here for the long run,” he said. “Instead of fighting them, we thought it would be better to become partners.”
The Washington, D.C. area has three major utility companies — Virginia Power Co., PEPCO (Potomac Electric Power Co.) and Washington Gas — and multiple smaller utilities.
“We designed the company to interface with any utility,” Warner said. “We have put a board of directors together that includes prominent local leaders to help deliver the level of service utilities want to offer.”
USE was introduced to the public in two phases. Twenty–five bright green trucks hit the streets May 1 in Maryland, an additional 25 were introduced in Virginia and Washington, D.C. May 15.
“Consumers will soon have a choice of electricity and gas providers,” Warner said. “The bottom line will rule. Existing utilities will enjoy an initial trust factor, but that will erode. Service will be an important add-on.”
According to Warner, USE will be able to provide utilities a cost-effective method of service capability by:
- Washington Gas Mode of using subcontractors for seasonal maintenance and service agreements;
- Virginia Power Mode of referrals to selected contractors;
- Other utilities may use either of the above or, as in other areas of the country, they may partner with “independent” contractors;
- Because of the quantity of service involved, USE will make arrangements with every utility possible to receive referrals, be a subcontractor or become a partner; and
- Being able to handle calls for gas, electric and water utilities.
Warner said he believes the company will succeed in part because of its employee owners. USE will reward valued employees with the opportunity for company ownership.
“This will give workers a rare opportunity and help encourage quality work,” he said. “Homeowners will benefit from service quality and value.”
We did this for good business reason,” Warner added. “We hope to be an exciting dynamic business within five years.”
Warner will continue to operate Warner Management Co. and his PHC businesses that have been under fire since 1995 when the local CBS affiliate (WUSA) said the company was supposedly milking consumers by charging high prices and using underhanded sales and service policies.
Warner refused to discuss his pending lawsuits with Montgomery County or the Maryland attorney general.