A Decade of Process Safety Excellence

November 5, 2010.  The beginning of our journey.

Time. There are so many quotes and books and scientific deliberations on the topic. Some say it flies. Others say it is relative. And a few believe it to be money. They are all right. Time is everything and nothing all at the same time. As we reflect over our last decade as a company, we once again realize that the quality of memories, experiences and learnings are what truly matter.  We are honored and privileged to continue to serve our clients, and we look forward to another decade of process safety excellence.

Top 10 Things You Did NOT Know About Cognascents

As you know, Cognascents has provided process engineering, process safety, risk management, asset integrity, and technical business solutions for years (TEN to be exact); but we’re guessing there still may be few things you didn’t know about us. Check our top 10 list and see if anything surprises you!

Why was Cognascents founded?

After selling my last company, Celerity3 Engineering, to Lloyd’s Register in 2008, I tried to work within LR for about two years. I am embarrassed to say that I was that cliché small-company entrepreneur who could not transition to a support executive role within a large organization. Business seemed to happen slower and cost more and be less customer-focused. I contemplated taking time off and playing more golf and doing more hunting, but my four children needed to see me work hard as they were very much in their formative years. It also did not seem prudent to fiddle away years of potentially good production. By the summer of 2010, I knew I had to start planning my next business adventure and Cognascents was born on November 5th, 2010.

What were the original goals for Cognascents?

The original goals for Cognascents were simple:

1. Satisfy the entrepreneurial drive in me to “build” something.
2. Provide a noble outlet to serve my professional and personal communities.
3. Afford a lifestyle where work and life are not two sides of a scale that need to be in constant balance.
4. Create a sustainable company in line with conscious capitalism and conservative virtues.

How have those goals been achieved? Have they changed from the original goals? If yes, why?

The first 10 years did afford me time with my wife and children that serving a large company may not have allowed. I served the Scoutmaster role in my son’s Scout Troop for three years after being an Assistant Scoutmaster for the previous two years. We bought a property out in the country and have spent many days and nights getting away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. I know my ambition within a large organization would have hampered some of these activities.

We have hired great people and have seen their lives develop with several of them getting married within the past 10 years. We have supported the families of our employees as their children work through school and other extracurricular activities such as volleyball and FFA. We have danced, laughed, and cried together as a Cognascents community as we enjoy and endure the trials and tribulations of life.

Achieving goals at a company is kind of like achieving a certain weight when you go on a diet. You may achieve your target weight, but then the challenge transforms from losing to maintaining weight. And perhaps later you move from maintaining weight to building muscle. I like to think we are on the cusp of a muscle-building phase. Our goals will shift to accommodate an anticipated phase of focused growth, which will require us to adapt how we apply our flexibility and discipline.

What has been the biggest challenge? Biggest win?

Managing through economic turmoil is always challenging, but the oil crash that started in 2015 and continued into 2016 was an especially tough time to work through. 2016 was and remains my only “red” year. What stung me the most was not the loss of profit, but the loss of people…of friends. Ultimately, I am responsible for leading a company and providing livelihoods to employees. When I have to let someone go, I take it very personally because we are not a “body-shop”…we are family.

2016 put me on guard, Harvey in 2017 validated the need to always stay on guard, so COVID-19 in 2020 found us on guard. My wife and I, as well as our core leadership team, have always approached finances and business growth cautiously. Growth may be positive, but it may also come with a heavy burden if not managed and sustained…and sometimes external factors hit you hard when you least expect it. We do not fear growth and we still strive for it; however, we are very careful about how we grow and assess opportunities for their long-term potential rather than a short-term gain.

Regarding our biggest win, I do feel we may be experiencing our biggest win as we live through, work through, and grow through 2020 despite its many challenges. We have not let anyone go. In fact, we have grown our team in the last several months. We quickly adapted our organization and services to the COVID-19 virtual business mode of operation. We have aggressively pursued business to ensure our employees and their families feel safe and secure on the professional front, which hopefully affords them more physical, mental, and spiritual bandwidth to tackle the many personal challenges of living during this pandemic. If we can stay the course until an upswing in the economy, then this will be our biggest win.

What is our direction for the next 10 years?

Great question! I have already alluded to a focused growth phase. On the home-front, I am finding myself with freed up bandwidth. I am shifting more of my time and energy to the company as my children are becoming more independent and self-reliant. I would like to increase the revenue brought in by asset integrity and PSM services. I can easily see us being a 100-person company by 2030 with well-established brands in the asset integrity and PSM industries. I would also like to develop a third line of service to diversify our company’s offering and further safeguard against economic downturns. Software and environmental solutions are definitely getting a strong look these days.

But at the end of the day, it is all about people. Our direction for the next 10 years will always be focused on serving our employees, clients, and communities with competence and compassion. I firmly believe our ability to stay personally connected as we help others be better will serve as one of our greatest competitive advantages moving forward.

Interview with John Perez, November 2020

Need a Training Session for the New Year?

Let’s celebrate ten years and help you brush up on your training! From now until December 31st, we are running a 10% discount on all our training courses. Classes can be held in-person or virtually and at our office or yours.  Do you need more than one day of Mechanical Integrity training?  We can do that!  Our training classes are fully customizable.  Claim your discount today!

PSM/RMP Overview Training

Relief System Design & Analysis Training

PHA with HAZOP and/or LOPA Training

Risk Based Inspection Training

Mechanical Integrity Training