Solar company radiates success
With few simple answers in the world of up-and-coming solar technology, Mike Harvey said the time seemed right to grow his home-based company into a River Falls office.
"It's going crazy right now," he said. "We can hardly keep up with the phones."
He met up with Tom Elbert, owner of the River Falls Industrial Center building, 715 St. Croix St., and soon struck a deal for about 1,000 square feet of office space in the refurbished building.
Harvey said he owns Synergized Solar with two other partners, Jim Davis of Hudson and Kevin Nyenhuis of Stillwater, Minn.
Harvey said by the end of the month, the company would have a total of seven employees, including an administrative assistant and sales representatives.
The company works nationwide but mostly in the Midwest with contractors, dealers and wholesalers, also serving consumers directly. It offers solar-related technical training, project development and help evaluating choices and incentives.
"There are a lot of options," Harvey clarifies. "It's educating the consumer."
He said much of the company's work is to know the different types of technology available, the specifications that each one requires and all the electrical aspects of about 10 different kinds of systems.
Harvey said Synergized Solar helps its customers select the best option for them and helps contractors learn the best techniques.
He said there are at least 10 different panel manufacturers to choose from, which can be overwhelming for someone trying to select a system. He says the business helps people pick the one they need to be successful, not just the high or low price.
As an example, Harvey said he heard about a wealthy man who ordered his contractors to just install the "best," most expensive system.
The man later realized other systems could have been as good plus provide a faster return on investment.
Another example Harvey gives of how Synergized Solutions works: It helped the city of Fargo, N. D., conduct a feasibility study to investigate putting solar panels on its library.
Had the city decided to do a project, Harvey's company would have also helped assemble the bid package to which contractors would respond.
The company offers five different levels of training from introduction and site-assessors' classes to demonstration labs and a weeklong installers' course. Harvey said his dad Jim, a master electrician, will teach most of the classes.
The business has involved the owners themselves becoming solar experts. Harvey said he self trained in solar technology, then took the long exam to become certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
"It's a tough test," he said.
Harvey said Synergized Solar will also offer continuing-education credits for the people who become NABCEP certified and need ongoing training.
"Our goal is just to provide quality information," the CEO said.
The company had a lot of work to do inside its new office space. The group of electricians saved kilowatts by installing brighter, more efficient lights.
They bought lights and carpet at a surplus discount, found used cubicles that fit, and custom painted the space themselves. Harvey said late last week he expected to finish the office baseboards and trim then move computers in over the weekend.
He agrees River Falls seems a good place to open an office since the city has many progressive efforts -- public and private -- underway to encourage solar power.
Harvey said Synergized Solar would like to see River Falls succeed in its effort to establish renewable energy sources.
Learn more about the company at its website: www.synergizedsolar.com or by calling 877-600-4757.