Steve Melink is challenging business, education, and government leaders across America to join the Clean Energy Revolution. Moreover, he is challenging all of us as individuals to join. But he is not asking us to do anything that he has not already achieved as a businessman and homeowner. In fact, Melink Corporation, not only talks the talk in sustainability with its solar PV, geothermal HVAC, and energy-saving controls, it also walks the walk with its two Net-Zero Energy headquarters and electric/hybrid vehicle fleet. Steve’s home is Net-Zero as well. Leading by example is why his company works with many of the most recognized brands in the world.
Steve was a middle child in a family of nine kids. His father grew up in a mining town in Minnesota during the Great Depression and joined the Army during WWII as a bridge engineer under General Patton’s command. His mother grew up on a farm in Ohio and worked as a nurse before getting married and raising such a large family. Steve earned a NROTC Scholarship to Vanderbilt University where he graduated cum laude with a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1980.
He knew getting an MBA would be important for his career but first wanted some real-world experience. He joined The Trane Company, a heating and air conditioning manufacturer, in Wisconsin and worked on a next-generation product line that would improve efficiency and reliability. While it was a great learning experience, he aspired to climb the corporate ladder and after a couple years earned a scholarship to Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. It was during this time that he met Mary Frances Marsicano, the woman who would become his wife.
After graduating and working at Emerson in Missouri and then Maysteel in Wisconsin, Steve decided to start his own business. From his previous role as director of engineering in the ventilation industry, he knew that restaurants often had problems with their kitchens being hot and filled with smoke, and the dining areas being uncomfortable. He knew this was a function of the HVAC system not being properly air balanced. Therefore, Melink Corporation was born as an HVAC testing and balancing firm in 1987.
Shortly afterwards, Steve recognized the inherent energy inefficiency of constant speed ventilation systems. So, he developed, patented, and started manufacturing variable-speed control systems for kitchen hoods. Today, his Intelli-Hood controls are an industry standard around the world with many thousands of systems installed.
Though Steve was a successful engineer and businessman, he was not always on the vanguard of the sustainability and green movement. In 2004, this changed.
He attended a green building conference in Cleveland to learn about the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system and was inspired by what he saw and heard. The speakers and attendees were fed up with the myopic, lowest-first-cost mentality so pervasive in the building industry. And they wanted to change not only the industry but the world. One speaker in particular stood out. Kevin Hydes, the future chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, ended his presentation with a photograph of his daughter and him walking a beach. “What it all comes down to, is I don’t want to have to tell my daughter that I used the last barrel of oil,” Kevin stated.
With four children of his own, Kevin’s words burned an impression on Steve, and so he left the conference determined to help lead the sustainability movement. His first big idea: consolidate the company’s four locations into a single, LEED Gold-certified building. There were only about a hundred such buildings in the world at the time, and Steve wanted his to become the first in Ohio. Some thought this was a nice idea, but too difficult and costly. Others did not understand the strategic nature of his vision. However, he pushed forward and in 2006 moved into one of the greenest buildings in the world. Unbeknownst to him though, this was just the beginning of Steve’s newfound purpose and journey as a sustainability and clean energy leader.
Today, Melink is working with many of the largest and most successful companies in America, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Yum! Brands, Starbucks, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Publix, Disney, Procter & Gamble, the U.S. Army, and many top colleges and universities across the country.
Melink Corporation: Inspiring Businesses