When Richard Dent was a little boy growing up in Atlanta during the 1960s, he became very curious about electricity and gas. As a child, his mother and grandfather had a tough time providing those life-essential services for him and his siblings. Richard Dent was a defensive end for the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. Once he retired from the NFL in 1988, the opportunity arose for Dent to enter the energy sector. He did not hesitate to move into this unknown arena, bringing the same ferocity for selling power that he brought for 19 years sacking quarterbacks on the gridiron in the NFL.
Richard Dent says the energy sector field is a big space and a commodity people use in everyday life. Entering this field after his NFL career required him to learn the business. He encourages those interested in entering the energy sector to educate themselves.
“You have to be dedicated and determined to be the best you can be. Educate yourself about what you want to do and where you want to go. There will be those who attempt to knock you down, but you must get up and do it again. In the energy space, you must try and try again. We all need energy and power, but we need access. The playing field needs to be level. Now how you get business and who you do business with is another thing.” – Richard Dent
Today, Dent remains a trailblazer in the energy sector, where few people of color have ventured. In 1998, he established RLD Resources LLC, a Chicago-based company licensed to sell electric, gas, technology, marketing, and other energy products in Illinois and across the nation. He is believed to be of a few African America owned companies to sell products in the state’s $13.2 billion electric industry. His company has secured contracts with Exelon/ComEd, City of Chicago, Chicago Bears, State of Illinois, Chicago Transit Authority, and the Cook County Government.
“The Illinois utility industry represents $13.2 billion a year in electricity sales with virtually no minority-owned firms in that market,” said Dent.
In September 2012, he signed a major independent contractor’s agreement with a company called Integrys Energy Services. RLD Resources helped Integrys complete an electric supply aggregation deal with the City of Chicago that was one of the largest deals in the nation, which saved Chicagoans up to 14 percent (about $130) annually on their electric bills.
Dent is on a mission to change the reality of the absence of Black-owned companies supplying energy. As he travels, he educates the public about the need for more diversity in the electric and power arena and discusses the successes and challenges he has faced being the only Black business owner on the playing field seeking a greater stake in the industry.
Richard Dent said he is looking forward to continuous growth in the energy industry. “This is my home, my turf,” said Dent, nobody is going to run me out of my home, my state. We are here for the long term and the best is yet to come.”