Claele Smith – Humming with Savings
Claele (pronounced “Clay-Lee”) Smith, one of our newest EO Dallas members, knows how to save money. She does it so well, she built a business with it! Her company, Dawn Energy Consulting, focuses on saving businesses money on their electricity and gas costs.
Originally from New Mexico, Claele graduated from Oklahoma University and then “applied everywhere.” She found a job in Dallas selling yellow page ads for Verizon.
Starting in the days of energy deregulation, Claele joined a company as a side hustle. It became a full-time job that was booming. When the owners sold the company, Claele had a moment of true entrepreneurial inspiration to start a similar business on her own. In 2011, Dawn Energy Consulting was born.
Here’s the thing: Claele didn’t aspire to be an entrepreneur. She thought she’d just continue to do what her former employer did, but things grew because she needed to make decisions and create structure to support the business. She even spent time as an EO Accelerator in Dallas about six years ago.
Like all of us, Claele has worries. Hers are partially because she’s an accidental entrepreneur. “I built this thing that I didn’t plan to build. I’m here, I’m successful, I’m a single mom, I have a house and an Oklahoma cabin, and now what keeps me up is – just what Covid has shown me – at any time, this wild crazy thing could happen and I could lose it all. How do I survive long term? I need to grow and scale.”
A business model built on saving money just might be the ticket to Covid survival. Claele works with businesses that use a fairly large amount of power: manufacturers, commercial real estate, retail space, multi-family complexes, senior living spaces, etc.
“I do free power usage audits and even tax audits because apartments, condos, manufacturing, senior living spaces are all supposed to be tax-free on their energy consumption,” says Claele. “I’ve been able to return thousands of dollars to owners. I basically say, let me see your bill, and I’ll give you feedback. It’s free, with no obligation whatsoever. If I can save them money, then they usually become clients.”
The business itself builds on itself. Every year Dawn Energy gets new contracts and new business. But Covid has had an impact. As businesses have closed, clients have dropped. Opportunities that Claele foresees involve clean energy, increased energy efficiency, and battery backups – all of which she is investigating as new business.
Today, she has a five-year-old son and lives in Heath near Lake Ray Hubbard. She loves tennis, even though she’s new to it. “My son is my motivator – I want to have a good life for him. I want to provide great life experiences, travel, what I didn’t have.”
Welcome, Claele. We’re sure you’re going to be an “energizing” addition to our chapter!