Meet The Santanna Family

Santanna Energy Services is an alternative energy company providing Electricity and Natural Gas for residential, commercial, business and more! Santanna Energy has been in business for over 30 years and will be here for 30 more! Santanna Energy offers affordable, cost effective, fixed rate energy plans that never go up for the duration of each contract so customers have peace of mind when paying their energy bill!

Behind every business is their employees and Santanna Energy is 100% employee owned! A few employee owners took the time to share his or her life story in a series of questions that Santanna Energy was interested in learning!

First up, 

Greg Rabaey, President at Santanna Energy Services.

What is his background? “I grew up on a family farm in SW Minnesota.  I have 6 siblings; 2 in Texas, 2 in Minnesota, 1 in Wisconsin, 1 in New York.  My parents winter in South Texas, and have been happily married for more than 60 years.  I love to hunt, go fishing and spend time outdoors.  I went to college at Minnesota (Mankato) State University, where I met and married my college sweetheart, PamPam and I recently celebrated 36 years of marriage; we have lived in Round Rock, TX for nearly 30 years.   We are very proud of our four children, and 4 grandchildren:

Brian – Graduate of Texas A&M University (TAMU) (BS Environmental Science), and Corp of Cadets, US Army Lt (retired).  Graduate of TAMU George Bush School of Government and Public Service, Masters in Public Policy.  Eagle Scout

Sarah – Graduate of TAMU, BS Nutrition Science & Nursing degree. Sarah and her husband Estevan have four grandchildren.

Anthony – Graduate of Angelo State University, BS, Biology and Chemistry.  Attending graduate school at Texas Lutheran University, will graduate with Masters in Athletic Training May, 2020.  Eagle Scout

Matthew – Attending TAMU.  Eagle Scout”

What did he want to be when he was younger?I always loved science, especially Astronomy and Physics.  I wanted to be an Astronaut when I was a kid”.

 

What got him to where he is today?My parents instilled in me the values of hard-work, self-sacrifice, and service to others.  They always encouraged me to be curious and to follow my dreams.  I was only the second in my extended family to go to college, and the first ever to attend graduate school.  This would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of my family and my wife”.

 

What brought him to Santanna? How long has he been at Santanna? “After working as a research scientist at the University of Arizona for a year, I moved with my family to central Texas in 1991 to take a Research Scientist position with a technology startup company.  After several funding cycles with that startup company, the venture capital dried up and the company went out of business.  Shortly after that, I joined Santanna in 1996”.

 

What does he do at Santanna? I joined Santanna in 1996 as a Project Manager and Software Developer.  Over the last 24 years, I’ve held several different roles at Santanna, including IT Manager, Vice President of Technology, Vice President & COO.  I currently serve as Santanna’s President”.

 

What is his favorite memory at Santanna? “I joined Santanna in 1996…..at that time, we had about 1200 customers.  We tracked customer demand and billing on green leger sheets, and had just begun to use Excel spreadsheets. When I joined Santanna, we also had a software development project to build a customer management and billing system.  This system would become the legacy system that we retired in Oct 2019.  The two most satisfying and memorable events for me, are day we became an Employee Owned Company (Jan 3 2017) and the day we completed the EOS CIS migration (Oct 21, 2019)”.

 

Next is, Doug Cueller, CEO at Santanna Energy Services.

What is his background?I was born and raised in the South suburbs of Chicago. I am married with 3 kids”.

What did he want to be when he was younger?I never had any crazy dreams as a kid. I spent most of my time going to school, playing sports, and spending time with my family”.

What got him to where he is today?My first ever job was at a gas station. I worked there for 7 years all through high school and college. What influenced me the most was the man who owned this gas station. As a small business owner, he seemed to be able to come and go as he pleased, and all failures and successes were his own. The idea of small entrepreneurship was a huge factor in what got me where I am today”.

What brought him to Santanna? How long has he been at Santanna? “I used to work for Nicor in their transportation department. It’s the department that connects with companies like Santanna that supply the utilities to the customers. So I had contact with Santanna while I was at Nicor. They had presented me with an opportunity, I took it, and the rest is history. In August I will have been at Santanna for 30 years”.

What does he do at Santanna? As the CEO, I over see the company’s moves and views for us to be successful”.

What is his favorite memory at Santanna? “There are so many memories here that it would be hard to choose just one after all these years. But I’d say what I’m most proud of is how far we’ve come. I wasn’t a founder of Santanna, but I was here a year and a half after it was founded. I’ve probably done every job here at some point. We’ve managed to build and grow this company with the same management for the last 30 years. We’ve also always been privately owned. That’s what I’m the proudest of”.

Next is, Matt Drogos, Channel Relations Manager at Santanna Energy Services

What is his background? “I was born and raised in Lyons Illinois.  My dad was a Operations manager for a Limousine company and my mom worked as the parish secretary at our church.  I am single with no kids”.

What did he want to be when he was younger? “As a young kid I wanted to be a firefighter”.

What got him to where he is today? “I was very  fortunate to learn from a lot of great sales reps who worked for Santanna when I first started.  They took the time answer all my questions and I would seek their advice, even though I wasn’t in a sales role at the time.  Additionally, I am a very  competitive and  hate to lose.  I’m definitely not the best sales person in the world.  I never had any intention to go into sales – it just kind of worked out that way – but I don’t believe anyone will out work me in a competitive situation.  I will study, research, and prepare the best I can to get the desired result.  Also, I am not afraid to fail.  I think people learn more from failure than they do from their successes.  If I don’t get a result I was looking for, I try to determine what I could have done differently to get a better outcome.   Finally, I don’t let internal or external hurdles stop me from accomplishing a task or reaching a goal.  I will exhaust any and all options in order to complete a task that will benefit Santanna”.

What brought him to Santanna? How long has he been at Santanna? “Santanna was my first – and only – job after college.  When I was interviewed, I was told Santanna wanted to go in a new direction and hire someone who didn’t have any prior work experience.  They thought whoever was hired would be more eager to learn and would fit in to the Santanna culture quicker than those who had more experience.  That opportunity was very appealing to me. I have been at Santanna for over 20 years”.

What does he do at Santanna? “I am a Channel Relations Manager.  CRMs are responsible for finding, training, encouraging, and managing independent contractors to sell out commercial gas and power products is the territories we service”.

What is his favorite memory at Santanna? “Starting up the broker channel in 2008.  At the time, Doug introduced me to two companies that had signed agreements to sell for Santanna.  He told me to manage them and to find many more companies just like them.  I am proud of all the work I put into build this sales channel which has been very profitable for Santanna for more than a decade and will continue to be successful and profitable for decades to come”.

Next is, Louise Kee, Quality Assurance Supervisor at Santanna Energy Services.

What is her background? I was born here in Illinois and was raised in Hanover Park IL and went to school locally. While growing up my Dad (former Marine) worked for Matsushita which is now known as Panasonic and my Mother was computer programmer FEDEX who worked her way up to Senior Director for Ameritech and Verizon. I’m the oldest of four kids and I’m married with two kids of my own, Michael and Mya”.

What did she want to be when she was younger? “When I was younger I wanted to be a writer for the Chicago Tribune…LOL!!! Oddly enough I do still write and journal as much as I can about everything. I also wanted to go on tour with Janet Jackson as a backup dancer, but it was never meant to be….LOL!!!”

What got her to where she is today?My mother was not a traditional stay at home Mom. However she was a real example of a career woman very early in my life when it wasn’t socially normal as it is today. Not only did she show me the benefits of hard work, how to maneuver in corporate life, she embolden me to speak up and trust myself. I admire having strong mentors like my mother in my life who have been there and done that, so they can enrich me with their experiences. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my Mother’s bold voice in my ear telling me to” Mean what I say as say what I mean.”

What brought her to Santanna? How long has she been at Santanna? “I was attracted to SES for a whole host of reasons. Mainly because the QA Department here was looking to the future and I wanted to be apart of it. Being an employee owned company, your ideas are heard here. Coming from another company, it was so refreshing for me to be able to add my own touches to my department, with full support from senior leadership. That’s rare in the corporate world, and it should be celebrated as our strength”.

What is her favorite memory at Santanna? “I adore our Santanna bean bag tournament every year. It’s the only time can you ever say, that you beat the CEO or your boss at bags all in good fun…LOL  Overall it’s a great time to just cut loose and talk a little bags smack with your colleagues”.

Next is, Yuri Borjas, Human Resource Generalist at Santanna Energy Services.

What is her background? “Born and raised in Chicago then I moved to the suburbs. I come from a large family, I’m the oldest of 28 grandkids. I have three fur babies with my significant other of 5 years”.

What did she want to be when she was younger? “When I was younger I always wanted to be an artist and as I became older, I became HR and an artist. I do a lot of jewelry designs, paintings and digital drawings. I have joined some craft fairs this year”.

What got her to where she is today? “I feel like I should be preparing for an award acceptance speech. (Holding the award on stage- imagine that)” I would like to thank my parents for pushing me out of the house at an early age! I became more independent and I’ve been living on my own for the last 8 years and haven’t gone back. I would also like to thank Santanna for giving me this opportunity 7 years ago. I moved around in multiple positions and then finally was asked to be a part of the HR Team” Did you picture me giving that speech? Yeah, me too”.

What brought her to Santanna? How long has she been at Santanna? “I have been with Santanna for 8 year this July. I used to work for Toys R Us as a Customer Service Guest Team Lead for about 5 years. My aunt used to work for Santanna in the QA department and told me that Customer Service was hiring. I thought it was crazy to be driving to Bolingbrook every day, but here I am 8 years later, writing this for all to see. That’s cool!”

What does she do at Santanna? “I am the Human Resource Generalist for Santanna Energy Services, Bolingbrook. I make sure all positions are being filled as needed. I also make sure that all onboarding processes are being completed.  I train new hire classes for the Customer Service and Inside Sales team too”.

What is her favorite memory at Santanna? “Every day is honestly a new good memory. Every day there’s always new challenges and new memories. Someone always has something funny to say. The best memories are probably our company outings. They are always a blast and I never miss an event”.

 

Next is, Nareman Azam, Channel Relations Support Coordinator at Santanna Energy Services.

What is her background? “I was born in Saudi Arabia on August 15th, 1992. I moved to the U.S. when I was 8 years old and I’m the oldest of 5 siblings. My dad sold ice cream and worked in construction while my mom stayed home and took care of the family”.

What did she want to be when she was younger? “I wanted to be an actress!”

What got her to where she is today? “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family, friends and my significant other. Everyone in my life played a role that shaped me to become the me that I am today. I’m very grateful for their company, love and wisdom that they shared on to me”.

What brought her to Santanna? How long has she been at Santanna? “I was looking for a job closer to home. Stephanie Zelinski referred me to Santanna and I was able to get my foot in the door and interview for the position I have now. I have been a Santanna employee for 6 months now”.

What does she do at Santanna? “I’m the Channel Relations Support Coordinator. I work in the broker department assisting our Channel Relations Managers with processing, reporting, and maintaining business to business commercial sales”.

What is her favorite memory at Santanna? “My favorite memory of Santanna would have to be the Halloween party. I enjoyed seeing everyone dressed up in costumes and playing the fun party games!”

Next is, Claudia De Loa, Quality Assurance Specialist at Santanna Energy Services

What is her background? “I am Mexican. I was conceived here in USA, but born in Mexico and brought back 2 weeks old. US is all I know. Went back to Mexico on vacation. I am a US citizen. I have 1 child”.

What did she want to be when she was younger? “ An Actress”.

What got her to where she is today? “Life, Experience, knowledge and people”.

What brought her to Santanna? How long has she been at Santanna? “A friend and going to be 5 years in September”.

What does she do at Santanna? “Quality Assurance. It’s a good place to work at and for. A company that takes care of its employees. Family and Team!”

What is her favorite memory at Santanna? “Christmas Party!”

Next is, Maggie Duenas, Administrative Assistant at Santanna Energy Services.

What is her background? “I’m a born and raised Texan from the flat and boring part of Texas (in my opinion at least).  I was raised in a tiny town called Lockney.  I tell people it’s a real-life version of Mayberry.  I have one son who is 19 years old.  I enjoy learning about cultures around the world including their theologies, music, folklore, history etc”.

What did she want to be when she was younger? “I wanted to be a lawyer/tattoo artist (at the same time)”.

What got her to where she is today? “I looked to my grandparents and parents as influences.  They worked hard to support their families and to give us advantages they never had.  I’m forever grateful for that”.

What brought her to Santanna? How long has she been at Santanna? “I took a 2-week temporary gig that turned into being accepted into full time regular employment”.

What does she do at Santanna? “I’m in accounts payable and also take care of the office supplies and any building management issues that come up in Austin”.

What is her favorite memory at Santanna? “The office remodel was pretty neat”.

Next is, Matthew Neyer, Pay per click specialist at Santanna Energy Services.

What is his background? “Born and raised in Cincinnati Ohio. My dad was a nuclear physicist and my mom stayed at home where she raised 9 kids (yes this means I have 8 siblings!). Now I have a family of myself, I’m married with a 6 year old daughter and expecting a son this July”.

What did he want to be when he was younger?Baseball player. I still have a big love for baseball, football, and basketball”.

What got him to where he is today? “Friends and Family. I have received valuable insights and wisdom on how to approach jobs and careers, especially having “pma” or “positive mental attitude”. Approach things in life with that attitude and you’ll feel the difference”.

What brought him to Santanna? How long has he been at Santanna? “From the start, I liked that that Santanna was employee owned. After the initial talks with HR, I felt like the culture and values that Santanna had I would click with. As of writing this, I’ll have been at Santanna roughly 11 months”.

What does he do at Santanna? “Digital advertising, Search Engine Optimization, and creating marketing reports”.

What is his favorite memory at Santanna? “The Christmas party”.

Next is, Tobie Nunn, Financial Operations Supervisor at Santanna Energy Services.

What is her background? “I was born in California which is where my family lived until I was about 5.  I spend my elementary school years in Washington State then made the move to Houston Texas for junior high and high school.  I moved to Austin in 1991 and have been here ever since.  I am a single mom with 3 kids, Bella – 17, Tucker – 13 and Knox – 8.   Bella is a senior at Austin High School and (COVID-19 permitting…) she will be attending Wesleyan University on an amazing scholarship in the Fall”.

What did she want to be when she was younger? “I always thought I would become a teacher”.  

What got her to where she is today? “I went through a difficult period with my ex-husband and was able to come out of that mess a much stronger person and a positive role model for my kids”.

What brought her to Santanna? How long has she been at Santanna? “I started work at Santanna in December 2014 as Senior Accountant”.

What does she do at Santanna? “I supervise the Accounting Team as Financial Operations Supervisor.  We process and post our customer invoices and payments”.

What is her favorite memory at Santanna? “I have many, but I still get goosebumps when I watch the ‘Progression’ video my daughter helped me put together.  I’m really proud of what we have accomplished at Santanna as Employee Owners and looking forward to what’s to come”.

These answers are just a few of many from Santanna Energy Services Employee Owners. All questions and answers were too long to include. Be on the look out for Santanna Energy’s next article where more Employee Owners will be featured!

For more information on Santanna Energy’s plans and products or to enroll in a plan, call 630-552-6881 or go online to: www.santannaenergyservices.com

About Santanna Energy Services
Santanna Energy Services located in Austin, TX and Bolingbrook IL, is a Electricity and Natural Gas Provider for Residential, Commercial, Business and more. Founded in 1988 and have been in business for over 31 years and growing!