Solar Power World spoke with Howard “Scot” Arey, founder and CEO of Solar CenTex, a rooftop contractor and 2014 Top 400 Solar Contractor based in Harker Heights, Texas. Here is what he had to say about his company and the importance of solar:
SPW: How did you get into solar?
Scot: I have had a passion for solar my entire adult life… I knew I would end up in solar one day, and I planned for it. After retiring from the U.S. Army as a colonel, I founded Solar CenTex. I’m fond of saying that I simply transitioned from National Security to Texas Energy Security.
SPW: How do you see support for solar in Texas, compared to wind and fossil fuels?
Scot: More photons hit Texas than any other state. Yet, by many measures, we lag behind in solar PV installation, both residential and commercial. The popularity of solar is on the rise, and as solar has become more affordable, support from both lawmakers and grassroots organizations has grown. We have a long way to go before reaching the level of support wind and fossil fuels enjoy in Texas. There is much work yet to be done, but organizations like the Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES), Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA), and Texas Solar Power Association are helping to lead the charge.
SPW: What do you look for when hiring employees?
Scot: Solar CenTex is a veteran-centric company, and one of the most satisfying aspects of owning a solar installation business has been the opportunity to hire veterans. We find that most veterans, while not necessarily versed in solar, have other qualities we find equally if not more important. Veterans are dependable, smart, rugged, flexible, determined and never tire of learning. Hiring predominately veterans has created a culture of “can do” among our employees as well as produced a camaraderie that makes coming to work each day fun.
SPW: What have you found is the best way to market your company and going solar in general?
Scot: We have a customer referral program where existing customers can earn money through referrals. We give each of our customers the opportunity to become solar advocates by including a membership in the Texas Solar Energy Society with their installation. Additionally, a strong social media presence not only gives our existing customers a platform for discussion of solar issues, but also serves as a place for potential customers to learn about solar and get a feel for what kind of company we are. We also engage in traditional forms of advertising, such as local and regional magazine, newspaper, and radio. Finally, a number of our customers come directly from our website.
SPW: Why do you think solar is so important?
Scot: Texas, in a way that looks to be more acute than other states, faces a potential electricity shortfall in the coming decades. We feel strongly that being a part of increasing the energy security of Texas is important not only for Texas but for the Nation; this work is both inspired and significant. Additionally, the solar market provides a fantastic opportunity for veterans facing the current reality of a downsizing military.
Solar CenTex Profile
Year founded: 2012
Number of employees: 8
Total installed Capacity, in Kilowatts: 320 kW
Total installed Capacity, in Kilowatts, in 2013: 240 kW
To learn about other companies on the 2014 Top 400 Solar Contractors list, check out these articles: