We’re proud to feature Tenaska and its Executive Vice President Ron Quinn.
Headquartered in Omaha, Tenaska specializes in power plant development and operation, and natural gas and electric power marketing. The company began as a five-person operation in 1987 and has grown into a 700-person-strong organization and one of the largest privately held companies in the United States!
Howard Hawks, Tom Hendricks and a few other former Northern Natural Gas executives started Tenaska, leaning on their collective entrepreneurial spirit to guide the way.
“They did not have access to ‘corporate capital,’ but had a strategy that Tenaska could succeed by partnering with companies seeking to invest in cogeneration projects,” Quinn said. “The first successful project provided capital to help fund the second, and so on from there.”
In addition to the founders’ entrepreneurial spirit, there is a long list of factors and traits that helped Tenaska grow into what it is today. Quinn credits “great people with strong commitment, unwavering dedication and hard work” for the company’s success. It couldn’t have been done without building long-standing relationships, understanding customers, innovating to meet customer needs and, above all, always delivering what is promised.
“Being careful and deliberate in managing risks, giving back and a commitment to strong ethical principles were also critical success factors,” Quinn said. “And along with all of that, it takes a bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time.”
These are all things someone looking to start their own business should keep in mind and replicate, according to Quinn. But even then, success is not guaranteed.
“Anticipating and managing risks is key,” he added.
Through the years, Tenaska has also grown by embracing a people-oriented culture. The company understands that whether you’re dealing with business or power and energy, it's important to anticipate and adapt to people’s needs.
Not much could be done to anticipate the COVID-19 pandemic, but Tenaska was quick to adapt. First and foremost, company leaders knew they had to protect their employees and their families, but the energy business is a critical 24/7 infrastructure.
“We had — and have — an obligation to do everything we can to help meet the energy needs of utilities, factories, businesses and their customers,” Quinn said.
Fortunately, contingency plans for emergencies were already in place, allowing Tenaska to immediately implement work-from-home capabilities for a few days, with the IT team providing incredible support. Essential employees returned to the office within days. And within three months, offices were reconfigured to allow more than two-thirds of employees to return — with accommodations for those with special circumstances. And all employees were back as soon as possible thereafter.
“It was clear that we could do better and perform better with people in the office. ‘We’re Better Together’ was our motto,” Quinn said.
This motto proved especially true during Winter Storm Uri in February of 2021. When most competitors were working from home, Tenaska was in the office.
“This helped us deal with emergency conditions much better than would have been possible had our people not been in the office,” Quinn said.
One thing Tenaska hasn’t needed to adjust through the years is its relationship with FNBO. When the company started in 1987, the management group already had connections to the bank, so it was natural to turn to FNBO for local banking needs.
“Given the nature of our business, we also needed to develop relationships with financial institutions nationally and globally, but throughout the company’s 35-year history, the relationship with FNBO has been strong,” Quinn said. “There’s never been a time we weren’t a customer and never been a time we weren’t happy with the relationship.”
Learn more about FNBO’s dedicated service and personalized approach.
The articles in this blog are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. When making decisions about your financial situation, consult a financial professional for advice. Articles are not regularly updated, and information may become outdated.