When Bob Moss was pitching his company's service to Tokyo Electric Power Co. in 2003, he offered the Japanese utility an unusual way to pay for the consulting advice.

"If you don't like our hourly rate," he told the TEPCO managers, "all you have to do is pay our travel expenses and 20 percent of the savings you will get in the first three years if you implement our recommendations."

After a brief caucus, the utility managers quickly decided to hire Mr. Moss's firm -- Synterprise Solutions -- and pay the hourly rate.

"We've made similar offers (for a cut of the savings) to a lot of our clients, but I've never had one take me up on it," Mr. Moss said.

Whether it is installing new pollution control technologies or implementing planning processes to improve work flow, Synterprise specializes in cutting business costs.

"Efficiency is our business," Mr. Moss said.

So despite the recession -- or perhaps because of it -- the Chattanooga-based Synterprise continues to grow. The backlog of work has declined this year along with the economy, but company leaders expect new environmental regulations and industrial production changes should boost its business again soon.

If the U.S. Senate approves new limits on greenhouse gases adopted last month in the U.S. House, Synterprise could fare even better. The Chattanooga-based firm has developed new technologies for cutting pollutants in the combustion of coal and biomass as well as lean manufacturing techniques to better manage industrial production and plant maintenance.

The business was born at the downtown Sticky Fingers in 1999 when Mr. Moss and another former TVA manager, Michael Brown, talked about using their engineering skills -- and taking a severance offer from TVA -- to form their own consulting business.

"We just got tired of the churn at TVA," Mr. Brown said.

Synterprise is now housed in the fifth floor of Warehouse Row across the street from TVA's power headquarters. But most of the company's work has not come from their former employer.

The company's first client was the Japanese Electric Power Development Co., (now known as J-Power) which has stayed with the company over the past decade. Since then, Synterprise has grown to include about 50 workers and has done work in a variety of industries around the globe, including operations in India, Jamaica, Peru, Trinidad, Japan and Canada.

"We go where the work is," Mr. Brown said. "But we like it here in Chattanooga because there's no better place to live."

The engineering firm specializes in both better work processes to improve the operation of existing equipment and new technologies to allow for cleaner and better burning of boilers used by utilities and industrial plants.

"Whenever a plant shuts down or retools, we're good at helping them improving the efficiency of that work," Mr. Brown said.

Typically, maintenance and construction employees spend about 35 percent of their work day in actual "wrench time" building or repairing equipment. The rest of the day is spent getting parts, redoing work or waiting on equipment, Mr. Brown said.

"By better planning and preparing work, we boost wrench time above 60 percent," Mr. Brown said.

At a Wisconsin business, Synterprise's team made recommendations on how to better utilize its labor and equipment in the spring 2008. By the fall, the plant had already realized $2.3 million in savings.

Synterprise also has been a leader in developing new technologies to allow lower temperature boiler operations that cut nitrogen oxide emissions.

Synterprise has built and sold 10 EcoJet advanced fired-air systems in power plants as a type of non-selective catalytic reduction device to cut nitrogen oxide emissions.

The company's newly developed Incremental Multiple Air Pollution Control System (IMACS) was just installed in Springfield, N.H. at a wood chip-burning power plant. Don Brewer, director of human resources for the company, said that system could be sold to a variety of businesses.

The company's boiler technologies also are helping more power producers turn to biomass, which has a lower carbon footprint than coal. Synterprise has worked with power producers burning chicken litter in North Carolina , straw and grasses in Kansas and coal and tire-derived sludge in Minnesota, among other clients, Mr. Brown said.

"We're able as a small company to be innovative and nimble," he said. "We're having a lot of fun."