Neal Fiorelli spent the first part of his professional life in insurance and banking as something of an odd-shaped cog in a strict corporate wheel.
So when his job moved from Baltimore to Buffalo, he decided not to follow. But he didn’t stop pondering his experiences. One main theme stuck in his mind — big corporations engaged in a lot of waste.
Fiorelli, who studied music and loves gardening, funneled the thought through the more harmonious side of his mind into a new endeavor. He co-founded a green consulting business and now leads a small dedicated band that helps all kinds of companies, schools and other entities to conserve energy and water and limit waste.
The company is called Lorax Partnerships LLC in a nod to the Dr. Seuss fable about ecological ruin.
“My partner and I were looking at starting a business, and hybrid cars were starting to have a critical mass in the market, organic foods were getting embedded with main product brands,” Fiorelli said. “The indicators were there; a cultural shift starting to happen. Instead of having a widget and bring it to market, we saw a market and tried to figure out where we might play in this space.”
He did a lot of research and got a lot of advice from executives he’d known from his days as a company man and just kept showing up at gatherings of corporate types and talking to people until the Lorax phone began to ring.
The first job was in 2003, a year after deciding to start a company, helping the Harford County Board of Education building achieve a LEED certification, a sustainability rating system developed by the. U.S. Green Building Council (Fiorelli helped found the Maryland chapter).
The company has evolved over the years and has since worked to make more than 250 buildings more sustainable. Fiorelli said he and his staff of mostly long-timers delight in solving complex problems for maximum efficiency.
Lorax now has 72 active contracts managed from offices in Federal Hill. His wife Maria and daughter-in-law Kristy now count among the work force of close to a dozen, while his original partner left to start new ventures.
Major projects for the company include the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium, as well as hotel, university and school buildings. He said business has grown by about 25 percent in each of the last four years.
“What will Lorax look like in three, four, five years?” Fiorelli said. “Tell me what the real estate market will look like. We’ll have to watch that and keep adapting.”
Principal and owner of Lorax Partnerships LLC
Previous job: banker
Residence: Ellicott City
Education: degree from Berklee College of Music
Family: wife, son, two granddaughters
Volunteer efforts: boards of the Salvation Army of Central Maryland, Maryland Education Development Collaborative and Urban Land Institute Baltimore
Interests/hobbies: Golfing and organic gardening, spending time with grandchildren and playing piano for his dog