May 2011

FOAM IMPROVEMENT. Energy One America is Enhancing Lives through Energy-Effcient Green Insulation

Author: Lance Hanlin | Photographer: Photography by Anne

John Guffey isn’t just president of Energy One America. He’s also a client. Back in 1998, a contractor talked the retired businessman into spray-foaming the attic and crawl space of his Colleton River Plantation home.

“We decided to do some remodeling,” Guffey said. “I was up in the attic looking for storage space and it was 147 degrees. My contractor told me if I put spray foam insulation in the attic it would be just five degrees warmer than the air-conditioned bedroom next door. I didn’t really believe that but decided to roll the dice.”

Sure enough, the gamble paid off.

Just as the contractor promised, the temperature of the attic dropped to 80 degrees. Guffey, the former CEO of Coltec Industries, was so impressed he decided to start his own spray-foam business with his grandson in Charlotte. After purchasing an operating rig and four pickup trucks and renting a warehouse, Guffey realized he was in over his head.

“I woke up to the fact that I didn’t know anything about foam,” he said.
He reached out to Energy One founder Mitch Dyess to help train his employees, and in jest, offered to buy his company, then located in Claxton, Ga.

“He said he had three things going on at the time, and in five years, would like to make things simpler [by selling],” Guffey said. “I told him, I’ve learned in business that the calendar doesn’t always work in your favor. What seems like a good idea today may not be such a good idea in the future. For instance, I’m 70 years old. In five years when you call, I’ll probably be dead, so you will have to call somebody else.”

The next day, Dyess took Guffey up on his offer. When studying Energy One’s profit and loss statements, the new boss noticed close to 80 percent of the company’s business was in the Hilton Head Island area, a two-hour drive from Claxton. He decided to move the operation to where the lion’s share of the client base was, setting up shop on Red Cedar Street in Bluffton.

Today, Energy One America is the largest spray foam insulation businesses on the East Coast with three branches, servicing homes and buildings from North Carolina to Florida.

The upfront cost of the company’s product is higher than the traditional fiberglass slips endorsed by the Pink Panther. That’s like comparing apples to oranges, though.

Instead of just rolling insulation between joists, spray-foaming covers every nook and cranny of a structure, resulting in better air quality, less noise and sharply reduced utility bills.

TJ Anderson & Drew Dumler

One of the Energy One team members who helped insulate Guffey’s house three years ago was T.J. Anderson, now vice president of the company.

“It’s the best way to go as far as insulation is concerned,” Anderson said. “First thing, you’re getting a cheaper power bill. You’re also getting the overall comfort of the house. Humidity travels through fiberglass insulation, but we’re able to seal that up. In July, air-conditioning units can’t keep up with the temperature outside. We don’t have that issue.”

The insulation is applied wet and expands when introduced to oxygen. Its ability to cover hard-to-reach places creates an airtight, vapor-tight seal. The technology has been around since the 1970s, created in Canada to trap heat during harsh winters. It works the same in the summer to keep cold air inside.

The foam has gained popularity in recent years due to its green benefits. It’s certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design organization, and the Federal Government offers a 10 percent tax credit on the service up to $500.

“About 40 to 50 percent of heating and cooling loss is due to air infiltration,” said Drew Dumler, operations manager at Energy One. “Because the product is air-tight, you achieve an air barrier. You can seal a house or commercial building up to the point where you minimize air infiltration into the structure.”

Energy One uses an open-cell spray foam for ceilings, attics, wall cavities, wood construction and steel construction. It applies a closed-cell foam for basement walls, crawl spaces, swimming pools and foundation exteriors. It also offers a product to prohibit mold growth, guaranteed for 25 years, and a foam system that can be left exposed for drop ceilings and metal buildings.

“We’re not the cheapest guy in town, but we feel we’re the best guy in town,” Guffey said.

Energy One LLC is located at 270 Red Cedar Street, Suite 104, in Bluffton. For more information, visit or call (866) 739-0308 or (843) 815-9931.

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