ANG CEO, Andrew West, joins Albany’s 40 under 40 class of 2016
Andrew was selected by an advisory committee of business leaders out of more than 500 nominations. The 40 Under 40 program recognizes up-and-coming executives, innovators and thought leaders who will shape the future of Albany. As one of the most prestigious awards programs in the local business community, Andrew will join a select group of people with special promise and achievements.
As part of the selection process, Andrew was asked to answer some important questions about business, his values, and his vision for the future. Here are some of those questions.
Why do you live in the Capital Region?
I love this area because it has so much to offer. We’re in a great location that naturally gifts us with a better quality of life. I’m personally grateful for the ample opportunities to get out and bike, ski, or play golf. I enjoy getting up to the Adirondacks, spending time on Lake George, and Saratoga Springs is simply fantastic – I couldn’t ask for anything better.
Share a story about a major obstacle you overcame, or about a turning point in your life.
My first major business effort was a failure. After college, I launched auctionPal, a concierge serve to sell items online. I attracted investors, raised institutional capital, built proprietary technology, and was soon the CEO and chairman of a company that had 35 employees. Then the economy tanked and the whole thing fell apart. It was a roller coaster of painful change that ended in letting a lot of close colleagues go and selling every asset we had to pay back our investors.
It was a major lesson on many fronts. First, I put too many eggs in one basket. But the scar is really the long-lasting pain of how my decisions can impact other people’s lives. That will never go away. But, it’s why the culture of my business today is built on 110% effort, trust, and responsibility.
What early experiences shaped your work ethic?
As a kid, I spent my summers living in Lake George with my grandfather, Henry Desormeau. But, it wasn’t all fun and games. He would wake up each day with an extensive list of projects that we had to help him complete: moving rocks, cutting wood, mowing the lawn, etc. He taught us that work comes first and to “never stand around with our hands in our pockets.”
He was also a role model for what it means to be a good leader. He would give me the freedom and autonomy to make or break my own rules. But, was quick to say, “Go ahead. But if you mess up I can guarantee it won’t happen again.”
What does the Capital Region need most?
We absolutely need more direct flights out of Albany. I need to travel almost weekly to meet with clients and I repeatedly struggle to get anywhere efficiently.
What will the Capital Region look like in 10 years?
My hope is that this region will have a vibrant business culture that has a variety of job opportunities across multiple verticals. I truly believe this region can prosper if we make the right strategic steps to support our people.
Why did you pick your field?
After numerous start-ups and failures, I said to myself, “If I’m going to be an entrepreneur again, it has to be for something that counts.” I’ve learned that you can start a business just because you “like” something. But to build something that you’re willing to put blood, sweat, and tears in, it has to be ethical, relevant, and able to inspire passionate work. The energy sector was the answer.
I dug into natural gas and alternative energy when I saw the enormous need for education and awareness. We’re all guilty of habitual consumption and sometimes all it takes is a new perspective to see the impact we’re having on our friends, neighbors, environment, and more. At ANG, I’m trying to own the responsibility of helping the biggest offender change its habits – the transportation industry.
The importance of this field is not going away and the need to keep it moving forward is only growing. I’m in it because it has the potential to make a serious difference.
Choosing to launch an alternative energy company in the Capital Region and tackling the mammoth task of trying to change the transportation industry is a steep hill to climb. One step at a time we’re making a difference and each day we’re still moving forward is an accomplishment.