ViZn Energy Growing Fast in Columbia Falls, Added 45 Employees in Two Years: Q&A with Paul Siblerud, V.P. Product Management

Quick Facts:

Company: ViZn Energy

Location: Columbia Falls, MT

Industry: Energy Storage

Founded: 2009 as Zinc Air, Inc.

Employees: more than 60

Key Leaders:

Ron Van Dell – CEO/President

Craig Wilkins – Board Chairman

John Lowell – COO

Mike Grunow – VP Marketing

Paul Siblerud – VP Product Marketing

Kevin Waldher – VP Finance

Jeff Hider – Controller

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“As a startup, time is precious and limited.  But we take advantage of the same activities that draw millions to Montana for vacations.  A hike in Glacier Park, campsite BBQ, huckleberry picking or hooking that sweet brookie in a mountain stream, it’s easy to escape, just hard to choose.”
Paul Siblerud, V.P. Product Management, ViZn Energy

How did ViZn Energy get started?

Founded in 2009 as Zinc Air Inc., and based on ten previous years of research in the Department of Energy, ViZn commercializes energy storage systems for mega-watt applications. The ViZn solution is safe, reliable, cost-effective and scalable to meet the needs of today’s ever changing energy landscape.

What industry does your company serve?

The energy sector, specifically commercial, industrial and utility grid support.

Who are your customers?

Utilities, Renewable energy developers and large commercial operations.

What does your company do?

Energy storage materially improves the stability and predictability of renewable energy, allowing higher penetration of renewables for distributed (commercial & industrial), micro-grid and utility scale applications where higher electricity prices, unstable grids and lower regulatory hurdles provide a needed storage environment.

By combining batteries with renewable energy we can reduce diesel consumption by 75% and reduce the cost of electricity by 40-50% over diesel generation alone. For commercial and industrial, islanding communities and remote power applications, energy storage changes the financial viability of storage solutions. The unique combination of long cycle life, plus high power and high capacity in the ViZn flow battery offers the best value for micro-grids and commercial & industrial applications.

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ViZn Energy’s Z20 Energy Storage System is self-contained in a 20-foot shipping container. On-board chemistry tanks and battery stacks enable stress-free expansion and unmatched reliability. Three to five battery stacks per Z20 provide 48 kW to 80 kW power with 160 kWh energy.

Who do you hire?

Primarily engineering, mechanical, electrical, software and chemical.  Also support staff for these functions.  Worldwide operations and customer support can be located at various sites in the world as logistics necessitates.

What is special about ViZn Energy?

ViZn was selected as a winner of the 2014 Intersolar Europe Electrical Energy Storage Award for their Z20 energy storage system.  3,500 companies from all international Intersolar exhibitions and the electrical energy storage exhibition participated and ViZn took top honors for products and solutions in the fields of materials, production, systems technology, applications, based on the degree of technological innovation, economic viability and benefit to the industry and environment.

In addition, Black and Veatch provided a third party review of the design, performance, and manufacturing quality of ViZn flow batteries and company capabilities and presented a positive bankability study.  Also, ViZn Energy has been chosen as the worthy recipient of the 2014 Frost & Sullivan Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award.

Is there a story that best illustrates what you do and why you do it?

ViZn Energy enables renewable energy to be a fully dispatch-able asset as well as grid stability.  In addition, our technology is key to enabling remote micro-grid energy supply to regions that have poor to no energy supply.  ViZn stabilizes and enables.

What are your plans for the future?

Continued growth, both in N.W. Montana but around the world.

Why are you in Montana?

Originally the founders were local, now a majority of engineering and other staff are from Montana.  We find the balance of life benefits and high quality employees and neighbors to be a competitive advantage in the world stage we participate in.

What do you do for fun outside of work?

As a startup, time is precious and limited.  But we take advantage of the same activities that draw millions to Montana for vacations.  A hike in Glacier Park, campsite BBQ, huckleberry picking or hooking that sweet brookie in a mountain stream, it’s easy to escape, just hard to choose.

 

Connect:

ViZn Energy Website

ViZn Energy Twitter Page

ViZn Energy Facebook Page

About the Publisher: The Montana High Tech Business Alliance is a statewide membership organization made up of more than 295 high tech and manufacturing firms and affiliates. Search for Montana career opportunities at MTHighTech.org/jobs.