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Meet Finlay Drake of Drake Integrations

Today we’d like to introduce you to Finlay Drake.

Finlay, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Building Automation and Control Systems have been my passion since my college days at Northeastern University in Boston. There I studied Mechanical Engineering and when it became time to figure out what co-op position I wanted to pursue, I was engaged by Andover Controls (now Schneider Electric). I was assigned to commission the new building automation system for the largest neuroscience facility in the world at that time – the MIT Brain & Cognitive Science Complex. My appetite for the programming and integration of large-scale, complex mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems grew from there. I was hooked.

After 8 years of Boston winters, I finally got smart and moved to San Diego after a job opportunity presented itself to head the engineering and project implementation team for a local San Diego controls contractor. The majority of my work there was managing the controls installation and programming for high-profile military & government construction jobs which provided me invaluable knowledge of military codes, standards and most importantly their high-level expectations. After earning my Professional Engineering license in Control Systems followed by my Commissioning Authority certification, I took the leap of faith and started Drake Integrations in 2011.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Starting a small business has always been a dream of mine, but I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for how hard it truly is to be successful. I started my company with a small personal loan from a friend who encouraged me over a late-night whiteboard session to take the chance, knowing that while failure could be an option, it would never compare to the disappointment I would feel later in life if I never tried.

With the support of my friends and wife (although very reluctantly at the time), I finally felt the confidence to give it a go. The first few months involved setting up an office in my spare bedroom and lots of long walks on the bay with my dog contemplating if I made the right the decision – I think everyone needs to go through that, in the beginning, to really hone in on your “why”.

Luckily, a few projects started coming my way and I quickly began to build my network of clients. I paid off the loan to my friend in about a year and a half, brought on my first employee a few months after that, and finally moved the company out of my spare bedroom and into a real office in 2014. We are now at 6 employees and growing at about 40-50% revenues, year over year.

Drake Integrations – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Drake Integrations is an engineering consulting firm specializing in Control Systems Engineering, Commissioning, and Energy Management Systems. As commissioning agents, we provide third-party representation for Owner’s to ensure buildings are designed and constructed to meet the design intent and provide oversight on the functional testing of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and renewable energy systems.

Our biggest differentiator is our industry knowledge of nearly every building automation system on the market, which is vital in producing an energy efficient and optimally functioning facility. We pride ourselves on doing what is best for the Owner, ultimately reducing the life cycle cost of the building’s energy consuming systems.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moments with Drake Integrations has always included the successful military construction projects that our team has had the opportunity to be involved with. We take pride in the work we do to continue to support our brave men and women who selflessly protect our country every day.

I also look forward to future proud moments with the launch of my new start-up in the building automation & controls industry which is currently in the works – stay tuned!

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