The Midwest solar market was finally starting to hit its stride before COVID-19 arrived. Still, companies like Iowa’s Eagle Point Solar are optimistic about the future and plenty busy installing a backlog of projects.
In this episode of the Contractor’s Corner podcast, Solar Power World editor-in-chief Kelly Pickerel talks with Larry Steffen, VP of sales for Eagle Point Solar, about how the company is keeping customers interested in solar + storage from afar.
A portion of the interview is below, but be sure to listen to the full podcast for even more insight, including more about the company’s leadership role in the Midwest, its experience in fighting utilities to accept solar (all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court!) and how energy storage is being adopted in the region.
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How does Eagle Point Solar approach customers?
We’re very heavy on the educational side of the solar industry, and that’s how we approach any client that talks to us. I want you to understand what we do and how we do it and why we do it the way we do. We want them to understand how it works, the warranties of the equipment, the life expectancies of the equipment. Once we get through that first phase, we go through a very specific education of the person to understand the financial and the environmental component and the value proposition that we bring to the table. This strategy works for us. It’s simple. It’s allowed us to build about 1,400 solar projects to date. The bottom line to our success is we kept it simple and we worked hard.
How has COVID-19 affected business?
We haven’t really seen a slowdown in our construction division because we have a fairly large backlog of projects, and we are able to build projects being designated an essential business. They have not skipped a beat, so that’s good news. We have seen a slowdown from our sales and marketing efforts. Typically I would do a tremendous amount of educational seminars in group settings where we gather a bunch of people. We’ve changed to go virtual and embrace other technology. We have seen some people that are sitting back a little bit and are going to wait and see how this shakes out. So it’s not that we’re losing any deals; people are just delaying them. We have probably around 300 open projects at this particular time, and we still expect to track probably around 600 solar arrays this year. So that’s a lot of work. I believe we have to stay optimistic.
What does Eagle Point Solar hope to accomplish in the next few years?
We want to continue to grow. With the expansion in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, we’re evaluating other states. We want our company to mature in existing markets. We have regional offices, and we want to have a local employee base — local salespeople, marketing people, local construction crews — so all those offices can be self-sustaining. We want to be the leader in storage, in energy demand management. That’s just a huge market that’s still coming.