For Natalie King the journey toward executive leadership began with the search for a new stream of income. At the time, she was a corporate lawyer looking to build a foundation for entrepreneurship.
“I had just taken on a solar distribution firm as a new client and so I was learning about the solar field. My then husband had a business mentor who owned part of a solar company and recommended we look into a similar venture. We began researching and it just took off from there.”
Today, King is Founder and CEO of Dunamis Clean Energy Partners, a certified minority-owned DTE supplier and technology, manufacturing and engineering firm focused on energy efficiency and environmental service solutions.
Dunamis was founded in 2012. It evolved from King’s initial venture after the 2008 market crash froze the mechanisms for funding commercial and industrial solar projects.
“We pivoted to the lower-hanging fruit of energy efficiency and that really has been our key focus because we see so many areas where we can provide services for our commercial and industrial clients,” she said.
King got acquainted with DTE at diverse supplier outreach event about 12 years ago. Dunamis initially was a DTE trade ally and then became a direct supplier after adopting a new line of work in power plant janitorial and environmental services.
Involvement in DTE’s diverse supplier mentoring program has fueled Dunamis’ growth. As a participant, King meets regularly with the DTE leaders and procurement staff to discuss key metrics related to her company’s business development, marketing and finances.
“The advice and analysis gained in discussions with leaders is invaluable,” she said. “The direct relationship with procurement as part of the mentoring team has been very helpful in identifying additional opportunities.”
The Dunamis growth philosophy is based on a vertical integration model that builds on its core competencies to meet customer needs. For example, the company originally specialized in energy efficiency auditing, energy management and professional lighting installation. Then, King and her team saw an opportunity to expand.
“LED lighting was the main solution that we were recommending in our energy efficiency audit results, and we knew we had the capability of producing a very high-quality LED lighting product for our customer base,” she said. “So instead of buying and installing an LED light produced elsewhere, we decided to vertically integrate and began manufacturing the lights ourselves.”
The company’s growth will continue to follow the trajectory of the clean energy industry. Recently, Dunamis launched a new line of electric vehicle chargers, making it the first African-American woman-owned electric vehicle charging manufacturer in the country. By the end of this year, Dunamis will be ready to go into production at its own assembly plant located in Detroit.
Much like DTE, Dunamis is a community-focused company. Although she had opportunities to choose locations outside Detroit, King chose to locate the assembly plant in the city to create jobs and help bring opportunity to local residents.
“I want to bring this burgeoning technology to the people of Detroit, to expose them to this new trillion dollar market that hopefully many will take advantage of,” she said. “I want to help train underemployed workers and bring them into this world of opportunity. It’s very important to me that Dunamis be a part of that.”
Dunamis is a National Minority Supplier Development Council -certified, minority-owned business. Visit their website at dunamisenergy.com. To find out more about DTE’s supplier diversity commitment, visit their web site at dteenergy.com/supplychain.