At first, American Sentry Solar was just a division of American Design and Build, a full-service remodeling company in Bel Air, Maryland. But as the solar industry grew, so did that portion of the business.
“We like to say that for the past few years, we’re a remodeling company with a solar division, but now we say we’re a solar company with a remodeling division,” said owner Joseph Tunney. “That’s how well solar has done for us.”
The contractor, which primarily services the residential sector, sticks to Maryland and surrounding states for both PV and thermal projects.
“When we first decided to get into solar seven years ago, we were totally focused on solar thermal,” Tunney said. “As we moved forward, we started to introduce the PV products, and they’ve now dominated our business.”
“Solar thermal hasn’t had great leaps and bounds over the past five years while solar electric obviously has gone down in price and made a little more sense than it did four years ago,” added Gailan Wensil-Strow, solar production manager.
With PV taking off for American Sentry Solar, Tunney said the company’s future is bright.
“We’re starting to see a tremendous amount of referrals coming in,” he said. “Many homeowners are now sending us their friends and relatives to get solar for their homes. With the extension of the ITC, we feel like we have a lot of traction and a good solid footing in the industry.”
While excited about the ITC extension, there is some worry that a few bad seeds could take down the local industry.
“We need to police ourselves better,” Tunney said. “I see, especially with the extension of the ITC, that a lot of new companies will look to enter the industry, and they may be less than scrupulous. We’ve already seen companies out there that are using deceptive sales practices. It could really put a black eye on the industry. I would like to see us really police our industry. SEIA is really important in that aspect for all of us to watch what’s going on with other companies coming into the industry.”
American Sentry Solar isn’t one of these companies; its employees have a passion for what they’re doing. Wensil-Strow comes from an environmentally conscious family, and he said he enjoys working to prevent, or at least minimize, climate change impacts.
“We’re really blessed with very good people here at American Sentry Solar and American Design and Build,” Tunney said. “We say what we’re going to do and we do what we’re going to say and we exceed the homeowner’s expectations, both at the time of installation and after installation is done. We take care of our customers.”