When the Mark Group, which calls itself the United Kingdom's largest installer of domestic energy-saving solutions, announced plans to set up its U.S. headquarters in the former Navy Yard in South Philadelphia, the state and city rolled out the carpet, offering $3.3 million in incentives.

Executives said they expected to hire 300 people in the U.S. within three years, starting in October 2010.

Three years have passed and U.S. employment stands at 175.

"We are growing," said Jeffrey A. Bartos, 41, chief executive of Mark's U.S. operations. "We have 47 open positions, with 60 percent being sales and 35 percent being operations. The remaining are administrative."

Mark staffers analyze how buildings can be made more energy efficient, and then make changes. Home audits increased 34 percent from December to January alone.

Question: Given all that, what happened to the 300 hires?

Answer: When I did the initial pro forma for the business, I did not anticipate natural gas prices dropping the way they have from 2010 to now.

Q: Did electricity deregulation also have an impact?

A: In the lead-up to deregulation, the worry was that prices would increase. How could anyone have anticipated that competition from deregulation would have driven down [electricity] prices?

Q: With prices low, people could afford their drafty houses. How did you counter that?

A: There was a huge focus on energy efficiency in buildings and a lot of it was focused on the message of saving: save energy, save money. So now the messaging is focused on comfort and then there's a savings element on the back end.

Q: But what about that $3.3 million in incentives?

A: Two million [dollars of that amount] was offered and we could have used it if we bought a piece of ground and developed it and built a building, but Liberty Property Trust owns this building. The $500,000 opportunity grant was offered, but only if we went into a non-Keystone Opportunity Zone. But we are in a KOZ. We received a $150,000 opportunity grant from Pennsylvania and a $100,000 training grant from the city. When you hired someone and [trained] them, you could submit for reimbursement.

Q: And the $638,000 job-creation tax credit?

A: We are eligible, but first of all, you have to have earnings that get taxed. The business is doing great, but we are putting every dollar back into it.

Q: You were a White House intern during the Clinton years. Did you know Monica Lewinsky?

A: No. She was two years later.

Q: Describe the Clintons.

A: Incredibly approachable, the whole first family. Mrs. Clinton gets a bad rap for being distant. She couldn't have been nicer to a 20-year-old unpaid staffer.

Q: How so?

A: We had a birthday party for her chief of staff and she helped me clean up - pick up the plates, throw them in the trash.

Q: How about Chelsea Clinton?

A: I never met Chelsea. Socks, the cat, I met. I had to babysit Socks at a press event.

Q: Are you good at repairs?

A: No. My wife is more handy.

Q: You have one of those big Main Line houses. Did you use Mark's services?

A: The team came in and added insulation in our attic. They properly air-sealed and did some insulation in the basement and sealed up gaps in the windows and doors in the house. The first check to the company was from me for work in my house.


Title: President, chief executive, Mark Group Inc. 

Family: Wife, Sheryl; children, Emily, 13, Sarah, 11.

Diploma: Emory University, political science; University of Virginia, law.

Resume: Division president and lawyer, Toll Brothers Inc; lawyer, Montgomery McCracken L.L.P. and Morgan Lewis L.L.P.

Mornings: In the pool by 5 a.m., training for triathlons

On the side: Board member, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia



U.S. headquarters: Philadelphia

Parent: Mark Group LTD.

Where: Leicester, England

Business: Analyzes homes, buildings for energy efficiency, then installs energy-efficient improvements.

Employees: 2,500 globally

U.S.: 175, in six offices; 75 locally.

Ownership: PrivateEndText