Case Studies

Prime Energy Group

Using building science to make better building envelopes

A building, particularly a home, is more than windows and walls, ceilings and floors; it’s a system, points out Jay Melamed, founder and president of Prime Energy Group (Prime). “It’s more than just a structure you live in,” Melamed says. “A home operates like a machine and there are many variables to take into account in how well the machine performs -ventilation, filtration, humidity, insulation and many more factors play a role.”

Since 2008, through better building science, Prime has given homeowners greater control over these variables by delivering more complete, highly efficient thermal envelopes. “Prime is a building science company doing thermal envelopes -that’s a fancy way of saying we’re an insulation company, but we truly believe we’re using this science to deliver superior performance,” explains Melamed.

Melamed’s enthusiasm for new ideas and a background in sustainable construction led to the inception of Prime in 2008. Prior to Prime, Melamed held positions in commercial estimating and project management. As a LEED, A.P., he also was instrumental in driving prior firms to adopt LEED practices and join the U.S. Green Building Council.

Careful positioning

Prime started as a spray-foam insulation contractor in 2008 at the peak of the housing bubble. “By the time we were ramped up and ready to go the market fell out from under us,” recalls Melamed. “It actually worked out well because we didn’t have to scramble, we could pick our approach to stand out from other spray-foam contractors.”

An industry which Melamed compares to the Wild West: “If spray-foam is done wrong, which is often the case, it can be very detrimental to the users,” he measures. “Prime on the other hand, we’re the guys in the white hats, paying strong attention to what we do and how we do it better. When the market came back, we were ready because we’d built our brand around quality, building science and integrity. We waited out the storm and we’ve grown tremendously as things have picked back up.”

Rapid-fire growth

Prime certainly bounced off the housing bubble, coming out of the gates of the recession at lightning speed. Based Raleigh, North Carolina, Prime started as a two-man band, just Melamed and his partner. “We now have close to 42 employees and we service all of North Carolina, most of South Carolina and occasionally Virginia and Tennessee,” notes Melamed.

Since inception, the company has skyrocketed and is now one of the largest Icynene dealers in the southeast. Icynene is a polyurethane spray-foam manufacturer. “Over the last several years, we’ve been in the top three for Icynene dealers,” notes Melamed.

“We’ve won other awards as well; Prime was listed as the 2013 Top Entrepreneurial Firm in the Triangle Area by Business Leader Magazine,” adds Melamed.

Since 2010, Prime has grown more than 800 percent and the company placed number 571 in the country on Inc.’s prestigious 5,000 list of fastest growing, privately held companies. “We were number 14 in North Carolina,” reveals Melamed.

Understanding the envelope

Through rapid expansion, Melamed says Prime’s commitment to building science and doing jobs right the first time, even if it costs more, remains. “We’re committed to our vision before profit,” he measures. “Many insulation contractors do gutters, garage doors, cabinets -anything else they can do in addition to insulation, but we’re not that. We are focused on what we do and it’s understanding building envelopes -that’s our big competitive advantage.”

With Building Performance Institute (BPI) building analysts to veterans in insulation sales on staff, Prime is a true expert in envelopes. Using a holistic approach, encompassing energy modeling that can be tied into HERS scores to match EnergyStar certification to energy audits, crawl space solutions and the bread and butter; spray-foam insulation, Prime has all of the tools for better performance.

To achieve the best envelope, Prime provides open cell and closed cell spray-foam insulation. The spray polyurethane foam acts as the insulation and the air barrier, ensuring a high-performing structure and enabling owners to control the indoor environment.

From commercial projects to new residential construction and existing homes, Prime can deliver optimal performance. “80 percent of our business is residential; we did more than 200 homes last year,” notes Melamed. “There’s a great deal of opportunity in the existing home market because there are countless homes built prior to modern energy codes and efficiencies.”

Prime has become the insulation contractor of choice in the region because Melamed says the company has had better understanding from the start. “Generally, the guys in our industry are insulation contractors who do foam on the side,” he explains. “They don’t understand the product and its value proposition. We came to market understanding foam and understanding the best solution for sealing a building structure. Building science is not just a tool; it’s a passion for us.”

Prime Energy Group continues to follow its passion and pride in using building science to deliver better envelopes and keep homes and facilities running like well-tuned machines.

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