About


Who We Are

We are engineers and software developers, salespeople and accountants, marketers and project managers. We are mountain bikers and airplane pilots, crossfit gurus and karaoke singers, cat lovers and bodybuilders, and proud fans of the Seahawks, the Sounders and (sometimes) the Mariners. But despite our differences, we all share one mission – deliver transformative HVAC optimization solutions that enable our customers to invest with confidence, realize their sustainability objectives and save money.

When we first started our company more than ten years ago, the dream of doing more with less to accelerate the world’s transition to resource sustainability seemed far from reality. Since that time, we’ve grown from one customer to over 200 installations around the world, pioneering software-based HVAC optimization in the process. Now, having saved our collective customers enough energy to power more than 50,000 homes, and done so in a way that is financially sustainable for our customers and our company, we are living this dream every day.

These are the values that drive our team members and our success, and that inspire us to continue to deliver ever more powerful HVAC optimization solutions.

Safety and security: We prioritize the health and well-being of the people, equipment, and networks we work with.

Collaboration: Our diversity in expertise is the key to our success, and we approach optimization as an ongoing relationship with our customers.

Integrity: We build trust through honesty and ownership of our actions.

Curiosity: As a team, we continuously improve through learning, and we seek to understand the goals and objectives of our customers.

Enthusiasm: We are excited about developing innovative solutions that significantly reduce energy consumption.


Our Leadership

Ben Erpelding, P.E., C.E.M

Ben Erpelding, P.E., C.E.M

Chief Technology Officer

Ben Erpelding, P.E., C.E.M, Chief Technology Officer, Ben has over 15 years of experience in energy efficiency, chiller plant optimization, and combined heat and power. Ben has worked on over 1000 chilled water plants throughout the United States, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Ben received his Master of Science, with an emphasis in combined heat and power, a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering, Magna Cum Laude, from San Diego State University. Ben is a registered professional mechanical engineer in the State of California.

Larry Stapleton

Larry Stapleton

President

Larry Stapleton, President, spent three years as Optimum Energy’s vice president of sales and marketing before taking the helm in 2018. He came to Optimum with an outstanding background in global sales leadership with high growth companies. Larry served as president of Ballard Fuel Cell Systems where he led the U.S. based subsidiary, Ballard Power. Larry brings to Optimum over 25 years of experience in sales, engineering, marketing, and product development. Prior to Ballard Power Systems, Larry led worldwide sales & marketing for the software firm, BSQUARE, where he increased sales from below $30M to over $100M in five years. Larry has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from San Jose State University, and an MBA from University of Washington Foster School of Business.

Bert Hogue

Bert Hogue

Chief Financial Officer

Bert Hogue, Chief Financial Officer, has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and as Chief Financial Officer for technology companies ranging start-up to middle market in size and from private, venture-backed to public ownership. Following 14 years at KPMG LLP in its Seattle and New York offices, Bert has held leadership positions at Wetpaint.com, Who’s Calling, Epoch Biosciences, Apex Learning, Verio, and NorthWestNet. In his CFO roles, Bert has had a broad range of externally facing responsibilities including significant experience with mergers and acquisition and in the public and private debt and equity markets. Hogue received his bachelors degree in business administration from the University of Puget Sound.

Ian Dempster

Ian Dempster

Sr. Director of Product Innovation

Ian Dempster, Sr. Director of Product Innovation, Ian manages product development at Optimum Energy from ideation and development to distribution and support. In 2005, Ian became one of the first members of Optimum; now he directs multiple simultaneous R&D projects, drawing on a 16-year engineering career that spans three continents. After graduating from the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, he spent the next eight years applying his interest in controls to increasingly large and complex industrial plants and building systems across Johannesburg and London. Ian, a certified energy manager (CEM), maintains Optimum’s industry-leading standards and collaborates with all stakeholders in the product development process. His projects realize 30% to 60% reductions in HVAC energy consumption.

Danielle Ullmann

HR Manager and Assistant Controller

Danielle Ullmann, HR Manager and Assistant Controller, comes to Optimum Energy with 12 years of accounting expertise. Prior to joining Optimum Energy she has worked primarily for start-up technology companies. Danielle started in the accounting department but with strong personnel skills and business background, she transitioned into also managing the HR team. Danielle has a BS in Accounting from Northern Arizona University.

Andrew Lechner

Andrew Lechner

Software Development Manager

Andrew Lechner, Software Development Manager, brings 15 years of software development experience to Optimum Energy. Andrew started with Optimum Energy in 2012 as a software developer and has grown into the team leadership position. Prior to joining Optimum Energy, he developed complete web-based services and backend systems for Kinetic Books and Perfection Learning. As a developer at Optimum Energy he has worked as a full-stack developer on OE’s web-based services and is continuing to lead the development efforts in that arena. Andrew has a Bachelor of Mathematics in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo.

Board Member

Bert Valdman

Bert Valdman

CEO Emeritus

Bert Valdman, CEO Emeritus, served as Optimum Energy’s president and CEO from 2014 to 2018. Bert came to Optimum Energy from Edison International, where he was senior vice president and chief strategy officer since 2011. Bert has served on the Optimum Energy board of directors since 2013. Prior to joining Edison International in 2011, Bert was the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Puget Sound Energy where he was responsible for regulated electric and natural gas distribution operations, as well as the customer service, information technology, and community affairs functions. Bert also served as Puget Sound Energy’s chief financial officer from 2003 through 2007.

Before joining Puget Sound Energy, Bert was a managing director with JP Morgan where he spent 16 years in a variety of positions in the investment bank in New York and Paris. Bert earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Northwestern University, as well as masters and doctoral degrees from Stanford University.


Our Investors