The decision to start a company at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 would be regarded as questionable in any industry. Quarantines and shutdowns forced many households to reconsider what purchases and services were essential to survival. But that may have been an unintended positive for the solar industry.
“Despite what happened, it was the best year business-wise that we possibly could have had,” said Jarret Sherrard, owner of Solar Pro Roofing (No. 348 on the 2022 Top Solar Contractors list), who officially put an LLC behind his solar sales efforts in 2020.
Sherrard has been working in the solar industry for almost a decade, first gaining experience with national brands before branching off in 2018 to do solar sales as a solo act.
“I started working with solar installers directly. I did not have exclusivity to one installer because when I met with a customer, I realized that not every company is the best fit for everybody. It really depends on what someone wants, what’s available, their best interests,” he said. “When I met with someone, rather than forcing down their throat one option that I was tasked with convincing them is the best because it’s all I have to offer, I wanted to give them the best solution for them.”
When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Sherrard was overloaded with sales requests from New Yorkers now concerned with energy independence and increased electricity usage at home. He decided it was time to make his sales efforts into a “real business.” Solar Pro Roofing was officially born.
The “roofing” portion of the company name comes from Sherrard finding many solar customers also in dire need of a new roof. Instead of customers getting solar and paying separately for a new roof, Solar Pro Roofing began marketing a new roof with a solar system as one project eligible for one monthly payment.
“That became our mission — instead of being a solar company that offers roofing, we wanted to become a roof company that offers solar,” Sherrard said. The roofing focus opened the company to customers looking for assistance with solar reinstallation services when they had to replace an aging roof underneath an existing solar array.
“It really created a wonderful niche that gave us much more business than just targeting people that want to save on their electric bill,” Sherrard said.
Right now, Solar Pro Roofing acts solely as a sales company with seven fulltime employees. Sherrard said eventually he’d like to have installation services in-house, but the focus today is getting customers in touch with high-quality contractors in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
“I really want us to be a full roofing company that can do solar. Hopefully it never comes, but when solar becomes so regular that the opportunities decrease, we still want to be able to help people modify their houses,” he said.
Working in the hard-hit COVID hotspot of New York City gave Sherrard a greater desire to look out for community members and ensure they were making the best decisions when it came to their energy bills. One solar + roof installation Solar Pro Roofing set up in 2020 was for an essential hospital worker, and the company gave all the commission on the sale to the customer. Sherrard said everyone was going through a hard time, so it was nice to reward someone for working in an environment that many people would find impossible at that time.
Solar Pro Roofing wants solar and roofing to only be viewed as a positive experience.
“Our little motto is ‘solar should never be shady,’” he said. “There are a lot of great companies out there. There’s also a lot of inexperienced people that push solar without divulging into the truth. We will have the hard conversations with people even if it loses [us] an opportunity. We want to make sure we’re doing it the right way and precisely as it should be to eliminate any future problems rather than monetize the situation and have a customer unhappy or going through headaches we could have avoided.”
This story was featured exclusively in our 2022 Top Solar Contractors issue. See the issue and full list of top U.S. solar installers here.