SouthWest Sun Solar’s workforce is one of the most diverse in the country. And that’s helpful, as the solar installer’s territory of mostly Southern California (and parts of Northern California) has an especially ethnically varied customer base. Hieu Nguyen, executive director of SouthWest, said his company’s diversity hiring efforts relate specifically to the communities in which they install.
“I found that minorities have a lack of information related to green energy and need to be more educated,” Nguyen said. “The best way to explain or educate people is by hiring the same language speaker to go in there and explain the benefit of green energy. We now have a solar consultant in the Vietnamese community, Spanish community, Korean community, Filipino community, Chinese community and also Cambodian community.”
A recent company-wide audit found that 40% of SouthWest employees are Hispanic/Latino, 58% are Asian/Pacific Islander and 25% are women. Hispanics and Asians make up more than 50% of the population of Orange County, California, and SouthWest Sun Solar is well equipped to work with these communities.
With an engineering background, Nguyen started SouthWest in Westminster, California, in 2014 after becoming interested in green energy but having difficulty finding information about solar in his Vietnamese community. The company now employs close to 100 people and completes between 100 and 150 residential solar projects each month.
“We have everything in-house. We do not subcontract out,” Nguyen said. “I believe you have to take care of the customer from the beginning to the end and make them happy. We are fast-paced, from the beginning to the end. Our record is three weeks—from the day that customers sign up to flipping the switch and utility approval.”
SouthWest Sun Solar struggles with many of the same issues other installers face across the United States—utilities, inspectors, HOAs—but Nguyen said the end result is still rewarding.
“Saving people money is the best thing you can do. I can’t find anything better,” he said. “I’m happy to see people turn on their system and see their meter turn back and know that their system will save the environment.
“I think this is just the beginning,” Nguyen continued. “I don’t think the solar industry will slow down or stop any time soon. I think every house will have solar on its rooftop, no exceptions.”