Walt Homan, our company CEO and co-founder, passed away last Sunday, July 5. He was many things: A leader, a mentor, a visionary, a loyal friend, loving husband to Jan, devoted father to Jeff, an unabashed Audi fan, a San Francisco 49’ers enthusiast and a proud alum of UC-Berkeley.
Above all, Walt was a man who believed in learning. He was unashamed to say, “Teach me, because I need to learn.” As our CEO he was an inspirational and demanding leader. An expression he used often was: “Get out of your comfort zone!” And he did, reading voraciously, setting high goals for others, but also for himself. He shared what he learned, and would send us recommendations on books and articles to read, paragraphs, quotations and snippets of wisdom that he found inspirational, useful and interesting. He used many metaphors and illustrations. Amongst them, one stands out: the idea of the business chasm, and how we—MACH Energy—were charged with crossing this chasm, to educate and show others the benefits of energy efficiency and management, not only because it would help MACH grow, but because it would also create value for our customers and leave the world better for it. Walt's unwavering vision for the company held us together through the early years, and helped us grow to where we are today.
Walt was the kind of guy whose charisma was palpable. Always positive and able to paint the big picture, he wasn’t a loud person, but he nonetheless had such strength and conviction that he filled the room just by stepping in. Meetings would always begin with firm handshakes and greetings brimming with enthusiasm and genuine interest. He loved MACH, he loved the people of MACH, and he loved how MACH was helping our customers. This year, the company shifted into high gear, with new management hires and an expanded focus and investment in growth. Walt was very excited about this development and looked forward to seizing the new opportunities this created and meeting the new challenges that would come.
A question we have all been asking, with deep sorrow: How could this happen to someone so young, so vital and so full of life? To someone who exercised regularly, ate healthy, loved the outdoors, skiing, and hiking? It seems inexplicable. And yet, we try to take comfort in knowing that Walt was happy. He lived a life that left no regrets. He touched so many people—his family, friends, his fraternity brothers, his board, and employees who became friends, as well as old mentors.
Walt built a company of people and process with deep integrity, creativity, discipline, and hard work. That is his legacy to us—this foundation that is a whole greater than the sum of all its parts. He was proud to have built MACH, the company, but he was even prouder of all of us, his team, and where we are going. Through his passion, Walt’s gift to us is the strength to persevere and thrive.
Now, even though we struggle with his loss, we rest easy knowing we can fully trust ourselves, and each other, just as Walt trusted us. And in doing so, we will collectively advance this great company we all believe in.
Walt, we will cross the chasm.
Rest in Peace, Walt Homan. We miss you terribly.
*Walt was a big supporter of the Sierra Club. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in his name here.