Posted by Matt Register

Mark Ward & Ernie Pyles of Grail LLC specialize in education and training and are on a quest to provide management solutions for the energy sector.

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.

Matt Register: And welcome back to the shore, Texas Business Radio, is the website; 844-814-8144 is the 24-hour call in line. That means call-in now, call-in later, call-in in the middle of the night. I don’t really have an opinion on it. We’re going to get the experts in here to get those questions answered. We also monitor hashtag TBR on Twitter; TBR, Texas Business Radio, so get your questions in. We’re going to get the experts in here. You will notice if you’re watching it on video we are not in our studio. We are down here at the George R. Brown convention center at the 47th Turbo Machinery and 34th Pump Symposium. This turbo show is brought to you by Texas A&M, by the Turbo Lab at Texas A&M, which is part of the department of mechanical engineering, right? So, important stuff, there is … we’re talking about things that go round and round, which is a huge part of the economy in Texas, more than probably I even had any idea about, it affects almost everything. Turbines, gear boxes, compressors, pumps, all kinds of things, right? So we’re bringing you the best of the show. I’m your host, Matt Register, Jay Curry had to step out for a little bit, he’s gonna join us here shortly. In the meantime, let’s talk about project management, because putting in a lot of this equipment is a big project. We have some real smart guys in the booth, we have Mark Ward, Doctor Mark Ward, and Ernie Pyles, who are engineering consultants that help companies develop project managers within their company. Did I get that correct?

Mark Ward: You got that spot on.

Matt Register: Well, thank you for joining me.

Mark Ward: All right.

Matt Register: Talk to me a little bit about Grail, LLC. What do you do and who do you do it to?

Mark Ward: All right, well, Matt, first of all thanks for having it on your show. Ernie and I and our partners, basically what we are is management consultants in the energy sector, and we specialize in education and training within that sector. So what we do is we help certify individuals as certified project managers with the Project Management Institute. Now, the upside on that is that it helps them through that certification. It makes them more effective project managers, it makes them able to run their projects in a cheaper way, higher margins, and also, for some of the corporations that are … we had talked about this earlier, off air, we talked about moderate and smaller size companies. When their individuals get that credential from the Project Management Institute, it helps them separate from the rest of the pack. Because, a lot of the larger corporations wanna work with corporations with people with this, what we call the PMP, the Project Management Professional certification.

Matt Register: Certainly. It gives them a level of professionalism when they’re trying to go get the job, right?

Mark Ward: That’s it.

Matt Register: The have that kind of pedigree with their people to be able to manage this. Now, the value add for professional project management in the project is something provable, right? You guys are engineers, you deal with numbers, not feelings, right? So you don’t go into companies and sell your services based on feelings, you come in with hard numbers. Talk to me a little bit about the hard numbers. What’s they difference in a project run with a certified PMP versus somebody who isn’t?

Mark Ward: Yeah, well, you can see it reflected in their ROI, we’re looking at 10 to 12% increase in that. Not in overall project margins, but in their revenue. Also, you can also see it in the number of contracts, like the medium and smaller companies get. Right now, there are about almost 900,000 PMPs world wide, and you kinda hit the nail on the head. You know this group. They’re not touchy-feely. If you go in to talk to them, if you can’t show them the bottom line, I mean, you can talk to them about, “Hey you’ll work better with people,” if you can’t show them numbers, if you can’t show them the hard facts, then they’re gonna show you the door. They’ll be nice about it, but they’re gonna show you the door.

Matt Register: Well, big companies have already embraced this, right?

Mark Ward: Right.

Matt Register: They bring in PMPs, they create PMPs, they hire PMPs on a daily basis.

Mark Ward: Absolutely.

Matt Register: It’s the smaller end of … the smaller sized companies. We were talking during the break, and I find this very interesting, because I deal with companies that are growing, right? That are going from that mom and pop to that larger corporation, and that transition is not an easy one, right? It’s one that a lot of people don’t make. But the decision to be able to bring somebody like you in to train their people to be certified, is a big one. What are some of the benefits? Why in the world would somebody like that do this?

Mark Ward: Again, we talked during the break, the margins now in the last eight or nine years are small, and sometimes you have to bring us in if you’re gonna survive. It can make the difference between you getting the contract with a larger company or not, because sometimes the larger companies put that out there, it’s not a secret. They say, “Look, if you want us to do business with you, you’ve gotta show us that your project managers have this credential, they have this education and training and background. So, it’s an essential thing. I know … we’re trying, Ernie and I, through our corporation, we’re trying to get the word out. That’s why we do these conventions and these symposia, because we’re trying to get the word out, we’re trying to help. We’re doing what we can to get that out there.

Matt Register: Now, it’s interesting, because these projects, as we were talking during the break, are complex, and quite often the big hesitation with a big company to give a contract to a smaller company is are they gonna be able to handle it and are we gonna know when they can’t handle it, right? I mean are we gonna know in time when they can’t handle it? This, having certified project management in place goes a long way to alleviate that, does it not?

Mark Ward: Yeah, absolutely. Just consider, just to get the certification, you have to have anywhere from 4,500 hours and 7,500 hours of project management, direct project management experience just to apply to take the test to get the credential. So if you’ve got somebody with a PMP you’re not talking about somebody who’s 22 years old, just got their PE, we’re talking about people in their 30s and 40s, they’ve been managing projects on average between 10 and 14 years, just to sit for the test. Then, the test only has about a 50% pass rate, so it’s tough.

Matt Register: Yeah, interesting. Interesting stuff. Somebody wants to learn more about you guys, what’s the easiest way to do that?

Mark Ward: Probably go to our website at and send us an email, and we’ll be happy to talk to them, and if I could just add one quick thing?

Matt Register: Yeah.

Mark Ward: The world wide average on passing this test is about 50%, our group at Grail, first time test takers, 95% pass rate for first time test takers. We do not fool around. We get them that credential.

Matt Register: Well you don’t wanna put all that money in the training and have a 50%-

Mark Ward: That’s right.

Matt Register: You gotta bat better than 500, right, if you’re putting that much money into it, right?

Mark Ward: Yeah, we’d be out of business tomorrow if we didn’t do better than that. That’s right.

Matt Register: No I get it. The website is We’re gonna have that linked right from the website, right from If you’re driving and can’t take notes, we gotcha. Go to the website, we’ll have it linked right from there.

Matt Register: Dr. Mark Ward is the president of Grail, LLC, and Ernie Pyles is a consultant with Grail, LLC. Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us.

Mark Ward: Thanks, Matt.

Ernie Pyles: Thanks, Matt.

Mark Ward: Sure appreciate it, buddy.

Matt Register: Yeah, no problem at all. Hey, we’re gonna take a break, we’re gonna pay some bills. We’ll be back, we’re not done, we gotta whole lot more Texas Business Radio coming on right after the break. Don’t go away, guys.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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