Sergio Alzate, a certified minority-owned business owner, turned one freelance opportunity with ComEd into a growing 20-employee business.
Alzate, president of Surge Staffing Solutions Inc., a certified MBE based in Skokie IL, was first introduced to ComEd in 2011 by working with a marketing vendor that informed customers about ComEd’s Energy Efficiency programs at events held at participating retailers.
After his work on this project, ComEd reached out to Sergio directly for a freelance opportunity to be a bilingual speaker and help inform customers about ComEd programs and services.
“I couldn’t say no to that opportunity, even though public speaking terrified me,” Sergio said. “But I went with it, and I’m sure glad I did.”
After being trained by ComEd experts, he went to work visiting community organizations such as senior centers, libraries, and village halls to educate customers – in both English and Spanish – about ComEd’s smart grid and financial assistance programs.
“That first job had a snowball effect because the energy efficiency department recommended me to other departments within ComEd and pretty soon the freelance opportunities to do public speaking grew,” Sergio said.
That’s when he had the idea to start a staffing solutions company that would hire and train more people to do public speaking events for ComEd.
In 2014, he incorporated Surge Staffing Solutions Inc., hired two additional employees, and directly trained them to do public speaking and direct customer engagement on behalf of ComEd.
“We scaled up in 2019 when I hired more event staff, about 20 staff in total because the contract grew significantly. Since then, it’s been full speed ahead,” said Sergio.
His company specializes in hosting customer informational tables and tents at public events where Surge employees educate people on ComEd programs and resources, including energy efficiency, financial assistance resources, and Solar education. Employees also distribute branded giveaways and support ComEd employee events.
While in-person events were put on hold in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, Sergio helped produce videos in Spanish to educate ComEd customers on available resources. Now, with the return of in-person events, Surge Staffing Solutions Inc. is on the road to having their busiest year yet. In 2022, they have worked 27 events to date, have 75 more events scheduled, and are looking to hire five new employees to the team.
Surge Staffing Solutions Inc. is one of the 662 certified diverse suppliers that helps ComEd meet the needs of customers across many different workstreams. In 2021, ComEd spent a total of $893 million with diverse suppliers, including $641 million with Illinois-based diversity-certified suppliers. From 2012 through 2021, ComEd spent a total of $6.4 billion with businesses owned by people of color, women, military veterans, and other diverse suppliers.
“I can’t thank ComEd enough for the support. I appreciate it and my staff appreciates it,” said Sergio. “It seems like this will be the busiest year yet thanks to all of the departments putting their support behind us. I’m so thankful for that. I wouldn’t have my company today if it wasn’t for ComEd.”