In the mid-1990s, Steve Chavez saw a problem and thought he could capitalize on emerging automation technology to solve it. For decades and into the early-1990s, most HVAC and building environmental systems operated on proprietary control systems unique to each manufacturer. That meant that large facilities (think schools, hospitals and manufacturers) might have two or three different controllers to adjust the heating, cooling, lighting and security for the same facility. Chavez thought there had to be a better way.
In 1995, Chavez, a native of Grants, developed software to help different systems communicate with each other making energy and environmental controls for large facilities more efficient. He hired three employees and launched Integrated Control Solutions or ICS. His innovative approach helped him land big contracts, first with school districts and small government facilities here in New Mexico, and later with large facilities such as the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) and federal military installations where even small tweaks to energy budgets could have big impacts on a facility’s bottom line.
Today, those initial three employees have ballooned to more than 300 and ICS, based right here in Albuquerque, competes to automate data centers for tech giants, hospitals and large commercial projects.
“We do building automation for commercial facilities, for hospitals, universities, and school districts and we control data centers,” Chavez told the Albuquerque Business First in 2014. The company’s systems are in buildings at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Colorado and more ABF reported.
“We’re resellers. We provide different products, but our specialty is our software. We can integrate it all,” Chavez said.
Last week, Chavez announced that ICS has been sold to Automated Logic, a subsidiary of Fortune 500 Carrier Global Companies, one of the world’s largest suppliers of HVAC, security systems and facility automation. Dun & Bradstreet reports that Automated Logic itself had an estimated $150 million in annual sales and more than 500 employees.
Chavez did not disclose the terms of the deal. For his part, Chavez says he will continue to focus on his other businesses. These include Wise Pies which recently announced deals to provide frozen foods to Whole Foods and Walmart, and Mechanical Control Solutions, a residential and commercial heating, cooling and environmental purification company. Chavez is also the majority owner of Mesa del Sol, the large planned community located on the southern edge of Albuquerque. Mesa del Sol serves as home to Netflix, Fidelity Investments, Kairos Power, and more than 300 homes (an additional 180 were recently announced along with an apartment building, grocery store and new campus for the Albuquerque International School).