LIFE — the love of it, the hate, the friends, family and firms about it.

LIFE — like a Bob Dylan song — resonating with loss, with gest, with gusto.

Today I want to celebrate the life of Pat Mahoney, founder of Energy Answers International, a dead man since three or four years back, friend, and a father figure in my life. He was quoted in the Times Union paper this week.


Pat was a serious self-made businessman. In his life of about 70 years, he created three firms of note and impact, an engineering firm, right after his graduation from RPI, America’s oldest engineering firm and the place where we first met. A security monitoring firm, and of course, his legendary Energy Answers International — a firm about twenty years before today’s needs for it.

Back in the 1990s, early 1990s, Pat called me up as the new Director of a Graduate Program in Environmental Policy and Management at RPI’s business school. After quizzing me a bit about my plans, he said “You better be good. I want to hire you first best dozen graduates.”

This felt like in gest, but it was gusto, and it came to be real. That is Pat Mahoney. He soon after hired me as one of his strategy consultants, and we had fun going to ExxonMobil HQ, going to places in our minds like Puerto Rico and Ireland. He had a big heart and a big brain.

I first wrote seriously about Pat Mahoney as a CEO and founder example of being like Ben Franklin all over again. In the opening pages of Doing More with Less. Pat was inventive, damn frugal in his competitiveness, and diplomatic in a funny way. I loved Pat, and I hate his death. When I went to his funeral, I met hundreds of people he had attracted and gained respect from, friends, family, from competing firms. (I once helped him have dinner with the CEO of a major competitor. I asked him how I can prepare. He said “Bruce just be yourself, talkative.” He later sold about 300 million dollars worth of equipment and staff to that competitor.) Pat Mahoney was like that, a magical magnet — despite his beard, and recycled metal belt bucket, and his eccentricities. I loved the man, like a mentor, a father, a friend.

When I introduced him to some DC friends from the lobby world, he said “I can use that”, and hired the best. When he had me look over some of his balance sheets on projects, I said: “Well Pat, you have been spending a good deal on outsourced legal representation and advice.” Six months later he bought a two person law firm, saying: “I brought the outhouse inside, Bruce!” He was absolutely brilliant, and funny, especially when we chilled with an Irish beer at the end of a business day on the road. He was a serious swimmer to stay in shape, even on the road.

If you listen close to Bob Dylan’s new long song “Key West” he captures my feeling in thinking about Pat this Saturday morning. The first stanza is like my first meetings with Pat, mysterious and promising. Pat had invited my wife and I to a theatre performance near his offices in downtown Pearl street Albany at Capital Rep, our local down home arts theatre. We did not know to respect, until we found him sitting behind us. Later we found out he had rented the entire theatre and the two hundred there were “his guests, and friends.” That was Pat Mahoney, generous, inclusive.

Dylan goes on in “Key West” with one brilliant stanza after another, in a kind of spell bound reverence of life itself. Watching Pat Mahoney talk about his ideas of industrial eco-parks is like listening to a Bob Dylan masterpiece.

Pat was not the typical gear head graduating from RPI. He was a Renaissance man from Rensselaer. He had serious books on his desk — including three of mine — , facing out to Albany. When my friend Paul Grondahl wrote his big biography on our legendary major Erasmus Corning (the title of the book you can throw at an disobedient cat, to quote Mark Twain), he had long passages about Pat Mahoney. The major, a bright man, was smart enough to invite this engineer to his offices often, reflecting on what we could do with the future of Albany.

Last week, although Pat has been dead for too long, the local paper quoted his thoughts about moving the Hudson River “into a flowing part of downtown.” It was visionary then, but now that the super road 787 has isolated the River and its enjoyments from entire colonial towns like Waterveliet, Pat’s vision is coming back, like my memories of him, like a Bob Dylan song.

LIFE — the love it it, the hate of death, the friends, family and firms. Pat had it all. I love you Pat Mahoney, and leaders like you.



Dr. Bruce Piasecki is the president and founder of AHC Group, Inc., NYT bestselling author, speaker, advisor on shared value and social response capitalism.

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Bruce Piasecki

Bruce Piasecki

Dr. Bruce Piasecki is the president and founder of AHC Group, Inc., NYT bestselling author, speaker, advisor on shared value and social response capitalism.

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