Specialty Podcast: The Evolution of Energy & Marine
John Ludwig, Co-COO and Senior Managing Director, Energy & Marine sits down with Debbie Crabb, Alliant, to discuss the evolution of Energy & Marine and the changes occurring in the industry today.
You're listening to a special edition of Alliant Specialty Podcast with Energy & Marine, John Ludwig. Here’s your host, Debbie Crabb.
Debbie Crabb (00:17):
Welcome, everyone, to another Specialty Podcast. I'm Debbie Crabb with Alliant Specialty Marketing, and with me today is John Ludwig. John is our co-COO of Alliant Specialty and our Senior Managing Director of Alliant Energy & Marine. In honor of energy awareness month, we thought it would be fitting to introduce John as our newest podcast host and talk a little bit about the changes we are seeing in the Energy Industry, as well as learn a little bit more about the Energy & Marine team here at Alliant. So, with that welcome to the podcast, John.
John Ludwig (00:51):
You bet, glad to be here.
Debbie Crabb (00:53):
So, John, you came to Alliant in 2013. Can you share with our listeners how our Energy Group has evolved since that time?
John Ludwig (01:02):
You know, we came to Alliant in 2013 and what happened in 2013 is there was just a divergence of strategy. We were all upstream oil and gas and the group that came as a part of end risk and Alliant bought end risk, in 2013, we were all upstream oil and gas. We literally handled private equity back operators in the space. That's all we did. And we always knew we could be more, right? We had, this is going to sound funny, but in 2004, I came what they called the “Big Up” strategy. And the “Big Up” strategy was how do we take a group that is completely focused on the upstream, looking at where the industry is going and move it along to a place that it is today? Right? So, since 2013 and with the focus and the help of Alliant, and Alliant has been amazing at this, they say: look, we're going to bring a leader in, you're going to have the freedom to be able to do that. And, and they did it. They, they gave us the investment to make sure that we able to do that. And we started out really with the upstream oil and gas side, we moved down to the midstream side of the business, and then we did something that looked counterintuitive at the time.
So, we went out and made an investment in the power space, right? It was all thermal power, which would be what they call IPPs. And it was amazing of what happened at that moment. We went from being an upstream of oil and gas group to, and now being oil and gas and power. And then how we've blossomed from there. We're no longer just a thermal power group. We now have a power group that does IPPs, thermal, we do wind. We're one of the largest brokers in the wind space, in the country from wind to solar, to renewables, right? From biofuels all the way down and what's most exciting about what we're doing today is battery storage. We are the largest broker on battery storage in the United States. And so, you watch the evolution of what's have occurred. We followed the industry where that industry going, we're going. So, Debbie, you probably remember a lot about those things, but we've really changed quite significantly.
Debbie Crabb (03:11):
Yes, I do remember it had been incredible watching all the changes.
John Ludwig (03:14):
Right? And now we've gone in and had Jessie Guerrero and Derek Whipple and Cindy Fee. We now have the ability to go from midstream all the way down to petrochemical. And so, we actually can hit every aspect in the organization. And what's evolved from there is, if you remember, is that there were two separate groups within Specialty, there was Construction and then other groups associated with it. But in the wisdom of Alliant, they've brought all that together. So, we can deliver construction, aviation, public entity, real estate, go down through the list, M&A, tax credit liability type of situations. All those things come together to make one specialty, today. I challenge you to find another place where that's occurred. Isn't that amazing? And you know, why is that? It's because Alliant has set their mind to gather the best in the industry to bring them to bear on every customer that comes through the door, regardless of the specialty.
Debbie Crabb (04:19):
It's such an advantage for our clients, the cross-functionality of our genes.
John Ludwig (04:23):
When I see construction and energy working together on a significantly large LNG facility, to be able to do the OCIP’s all the way through the operational things. That's the beauty of what Alliant does.
Debbie Crabb (04:36):
John, we've already talked about the fact that you've been with Alliant since 2013. You tell us a little bit more about your background. How did you get started in the Energy Industry?
John Ludwig (04:46):
Yes. I can tell you a bit about my background. It's a checkered background. So, I really, I won't go all the way back to high school. That might be a little bit boring at the end of the day. But my degree is in finance, I'm a finance major, and my first job really within that is: I worked on the Public Utility space, and I worked for the non-regulated side of the Public Utility. I was actually an analyst and through becoming an analyst, I ended up, as most people happens in their world, Insurance got dumped on me because nobody else wanted to take care of insurance. So here I am at 20-some-year, early twenties working in a public on a non-regulated side of the business, working with a bunch of stogy underwriters, trying to understand insurance. From there, I went to work on the upstream oil and gas side.
I worked for a company who drilled wells in the Denver Julesburg basin out of Denver, and I was their risk manager, if you will, and I was their health and safety coordinator. So, I did both jobs, at that time. So, we were able to take that company, it was a small privately held organization and they went public. So, I learned a lot about the business and how the business works on the risk management side, for an upstream oil and gas company. And funny enough, I was working with Aon as my broker and I kept looking at him going, you know, what are you all doing with the information that I provide you here? I am a risk manager in a company and I'm providing you information. You bring something back to me. And it was very apparent very, very quickly that I wanted to be on the broker side of the business, because they got to go to London, and they got to do all these things.
And here I was just feeding them information to be able to do that. So, in 1998 I went from being a risk manager and jumped over into the brokerage world for Aon in Denver. From there I went to work for a large regional called IMA and helped start the energy group there. And then I felt the kind of, kind of the call of the wild and what happens in this business oftentimes is that I bought into a small, small agency in Fort Worth, Texas. It had great people, great entries into the upstream oil and gas piece and bought into that firm at a very small size, and frankly, we were able to grow it significantly and then sold it to Alliant in 2013. So, like a lot of our customers, I've been through each phase of that and been able to see that and it's been significant. And like I said, a nice thing is we've been able to carry the same mantra, the same values, the same ideas about where we were going to do that. And today what you see is that an energy group that's got more than 160 people in the energy group, that's focus across all lines of it. So, it's been quite a ride.
Debbie Crabb (07:21):
Quite a background you have from very humble beginnings. So, John, can you explain why you have structured the energy group the way you have?
John Ludwig (07:30):
Yeah, that's been a labor of love for a number of years. We, again, as you think about the evolution of the industry and evolution of energy, we really saw the need to be able to provide more services and to be able to meet our customers as they were changing. And so, the way we structured the organization is we really took it and split it into about four different sections. Really, even though we all work under one umbrella, we really wanted to hone in on the expertise in particular areas. For example, we have an upstream and midstream practice. We have people like Mark Mullervy and Carrie Roth that know that part of the industry exceptionally well. And we want to make sure that we bring the best expertise of the industry there. We then took, and like I said earlier, we took a leap and we got into the power business, and we found expertise in Rob Bothwell that was aggressive fought for their customers, you know, as hard as could be and allowed them to come in and now expand that into all phases of power.
And so, we're really excited to have, Rob, now, being our newest member of our managing directors. And so, Rob's done a great job being able to grow that team, he and Brenna Melvin and the addition of Jesse Guerrero and the addition of Derek Whipple and Cindy Fee have been just a boom for us because we can now not only do the IPP and the wind and the solar and the rest, but we now have a peak at public power. So, we can also do and handle the larger customers as well. We've done also, we've added Marine and Brian O'Neil who runs our Marine group. That was also an entrance for us that we saw that every one of our customers needed cargo, every one of our customers was getting into the logistics, every one of our customers was expanding their operations.
And so, it was natural for us to go find somebody like Brian to come and lead that for us. And as we continue to grow and as we continue to work in this space, as we all know, as a result of COVID, you know, that space is exploding in the logistics and we are continuing to add expertise to be able to handle those things from, from coast to coast, and then we have our own surety group within there. And so, Dan Burton and his group, and we just, added additional folks there, you know, we can handle the Surety needs from upstream, midstream, downstream, the logistics folks, the Marine side. And so, we feel like that we're actually a full-service group. And the reason we've split that out is number one, is to keep the expertise where it is. Number two is to give everybody access across that space, to that expertise and to meet our customers where they're changing and growing.
Debbie Crabb (10:07):
Sounds like you've structured the group to best match the client and where the client and where the energy segment is headed.
John Ludwig (10:17):
We as brokers have to meet our clients where they are, right? But for insurance, most of our customers will not go out and risk and do large projects, or risk and go out and do things. So, our job is critical to helping them meet their goals. And, but for insurance, those projects don't get built. Nobody builds an LNG facility, in Louisiana, without insurance, nobody goes out and drills wells in deep, deep west, Texas, without insurance, nobody builds a pipeline across the United States, without insurance, nobody builds a power plant without insurance. So, we have to be in tune with where our customers are and where they're going and chain and join them in the transition. So that's why we did what we did, Debbie, and so, and thanks for asking the question.
Debbie Crabb (11:04):
Thanks, John. It's been great to talk with you today.
John Ludwig (11:07):
You're welcome, Debbie. And as you can tell, we're fairly passionate about it, and it's always a great opportunity to sit down and be able to share about where Alliant is going, what we're doing, how we're thinking of about this stuff and the expertise that we can bring to bear.
Debbie Crabb (11:21):
For our listeners, if you want to know more about the Alliant Energy and Marine team, you go to www.Alliant.com
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