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Energy Cowboys IGNITE SOL AR

The only way to explain how quickly this startup company designed and installed the largest solar project on a public school in the U.S. is simply, “Everything is bigger in Texas.�

Here Comes the Sun Northern Exposure SOL AR IMPULSE

The aptly named solar-powered plane, which debuted at the Paris Air Show this summer, requires enough sunshine to power the 10,000 solar cells across its 207-foot wingspan.



Summer 2011 $24.95 USD $26.30 CAN


One size does not fit all when it comes to building a business model for a renewable energy distribution company that caters to the Canadian market rich in off-grid residences.




75,000 AND COUNTING... The Obama administration and the Dept. of Energy is making it possible for this Nevada start-up to build a 24/7, 110 mW solar thermal plant that will service 75,000 homes.

in this issue 34

on the cover

The "sunny skies only" solar-powed, one-seater plane, Solar Impulse, debuted at the Paris Air Show by flying in from Brussells, Belgium.


ENERGY LEADERS TODAY Editor-in-Chief Todd Weaver Editor Diana Doyle Executive Editor Jonathan Mack Assistant Editor Joseph Orange Creative Director Maria J. Owens Art Director Anthony Walker Director of Advertising Julian Vu Editorial Design Kris Apodaca Photography Editor Ian Palmer Video Director Susan Maybach Editorial Director Kate Darling Staff Writers Joel Cornell, Paige L. Hill Copy Editors Chelsea Muth, Mariya Bouraima Assistant Copy Editor Amy Roberts Content Directors Brandon McBride, Lisa Talbot, Cathy Bradford, Sophia Hartwick, Juan Stewart Vendor Relations Director Diana Stephens Vendor Relations Eric Miller, Steve Peters Advertising Sales Coordinator Patricia O’Brien Advertising Sales Director Peter Jostens Advertising Sales James Banks, Moe Kazemi, George Johnson Publisher Steve Reed Reprints/Circulation Anne Brewer

oZ WORLD MEDIA, LLC 1100 H Street NW, Suite M Washington D.C. 20005 Energy Leaders Today is an international quarterly B2B trade journal that services the construction industry in custom build, geothermal, green building, heavy, residential, commercial, civil engineering and specialty trade sectors. ELT has a readership of 200,000 C-Level executives within the construction industry. We do not accept subscription requests from the general public, however an abbreviated version is available on our website.


IN EVERY ISSUE 06 08 10 12 14 54

Editor’s Note Guest Editorial Staff Editorial Industry News The Hot List Advertising Index

17 48

22 G2 Solar

G2 Solar, a veteran wholesale distribution company, has used the eclectic experience of its leaders in order to help take Ontario off the grid.

28 Harmon Solar

The Arizona sun is strong, to say the least. Harmon Solar matches that strength with their own in providing easy access to solar for their neighbors.

32 Morningstar Market

Step by step, Andrew Lentz has built up one of the most interesting destination marketplaces on the East Coast, which now features a massive solar array as an attraction of sorts.

34 CAP Solar

Utilizing Alberta’s uniquely progressive business culture, CAP Solar seeks to push solar farther than ever before.

38 Tabor Design Build, Inc.

Alongside their efforts to build better, more sustainable and energy efficient homes, Tabor Design Build, Inc. is also seeking to give something back to our veterans.

40 TW Perry

Their vision and their value have allowed TW Perry to become the most reliable dealer of sustainable building materials in the Washington D.C. region.

42 Ignite Solar

Though Ignite Solar has only been working in the industry since 2007, the leading minds behind the brand are doing their best to change the game.

48 LB Electric

Industry leader Leon K. Baptiste has already revolutionized the energy industry through several of his companies. Now, he’s going to bring up a new generation ready to bring solar to the forefront.


Chelsea Muth

ing. They should just stick to figuring out how to lower the national debt while not screwing over the wealthy who work hard to provide a livelihood to the middle class. And proposals to end all nuclear power and shut down all plants is just plain un-American. In this issue of ELT, we focused on companies that have expanded their product and service offerings to make them more competitive, useful and ubiquitous to the market. As clean energy technology advances, all forms of renewable energy will become commonly accepted parts of our culture. While specializing in just solar, wind or geothermal may allow a company to claim “expert” status, smaller clients like homeowners and small businesses require more personalized options from companies that can speak more than one language. In the journalism industry, we call this “knowledge that’s an inch thick and a mile wide.” Turn to our green building section (page 18) to discover some regional firms that are helping their surrounding communities realize the benefits and array of options for affordable, renewable energy in their homes or offices. Take our poll on to weigh in on our country’s reaction to the Japan nuclear disaster.

Chelsea is an NYU graduate with a post graduate degree from the University of Toronto. A seasoned world traveller, she has logged many hours for non-profits administering aid to African countries.

Joel uses his background in technical writing to translate complex jargon into vivid narratives. Past work includes projects with the State Department, the DOD, the World Bank and many retail giants.


Felicia Willis

Dominating energy news since March 11th is the nuclear debate following Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. The aftermath has snowballed into a series of nuclear explosions, ultimately resulting in a level seven disaster, getting the whole world to rethink nuclear power. It had been 25 years since the last level seven nuclear meltdown and yet legislators and the public everywhere are proposing extreme measures like reform, shutting down older plants and banning future plants. This troubles me because Japan’s crisis was not an epic failure on the plant’s management, as some are claiming. Nor was it a factor of the plant’s age. As a matter of fact, the plant’s emergency shut-down procedure worked precisely as planned when the earthquake began. It actually surpassed the amount of energy it had been designed to withstand by 40 times. Rather, it was the 33-foot tsunami that knocked out the plant’s backup diesel generators for its coolant pumps that caused the partial meltdown that unfolded in front of our eyes on national television. Legislators and activists are totally overreacting. Perhaps building nuclear plants on a fault-line may not have been the best idea, and future plants should be located in low-threat areas (like away from hurricane zones, tornado alley, etc.). Even so, what we have learned from Japan’s partial meltdown is that if the same protective measures had been taken to secure the generators, no meltdown would have occurred. They did a commendable job in the execution of the plant’s shutdown. Once again, this is an example of the government meddling too much in the private sector. For legislators to assume that plant operators are not carefully rethinking and evaluating their operations, locations, emergency backups, etc. is insult-

Well versed in a range of design topics, Paige’s career has taken her from Readers Digest UK to hard daily news. She has a Master’s in English from the University of South Carolina-Columbia.

Joel Cornell

Legislators Overreacting to Japan’s Nuclear Partial Meltdown

Paige L. Hill


Jane Caffrey

Felicia is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, Ga. A graduate of the University of Maryland, she has contributed to several magazines including "Today’s Chemist at Work."

Jane Caffrey earned a B.A. from Carleton College in Minnesota. Currently in her Master’s program at New York University, Jane’s work has been published in both the U.S. and Europe. 6 Summer 2011


Taking solar to the market: from California to Maine it’s a bottom-up movement that cannot be stopped Originally appeared on SES 21's Solar Blog, “Chet’s Desk.”

Chet Boortz CEO SES 21 USA, LLC,


8 Summer 2011

It’s another long hot summer in the U.S. Wildfires in the west, floods in the midwest, and tornados in the East; budget deficits, debt ceilings, scandals, and politics ‘worst’ than usual in Washington, D.C. ... and an economy that is sputtering along with high unemployment and low consumer confidence in the aftermath of The Greatest Recession of a lifetime. So what should we do? Let’s be positive! Pour a glass of lemonade, find a shade tree and dream about clean sustainable energy – a world where our politicians consider our children’s interests not their special interests, and where stewardship and leadership trump wrangling greedy partisanship. The America we dream about is within our reach, but experience tells me that it will not happen if we simply wait for our politicians and lobbybound policymakers to get it right. The problem with Washington and state governments is that the politicians tell us what we want, but they always forget to ask first. So here is the good news about grid-tied, distributive solar electricity – it’s distributive! It is a bottom-up popular movement, which moves one house, one business and one school at a time. Electricity consumers can make their own investment, small or large, in a clean sustainable energy future. We do not need policymakers to get it right, distributive solar electricity crosses the threshold to unencumbered self-determination. We can temper our involuntary consumption of lignite coal, nuclear and natural gas fracking electricity by choosing 20 percent grid-tied solar electricity. We decide, we take the lead, we set the course. This is why the movement is unstoppable; it is driven by the people. If your leaders do not lead, they are irrelevant, and you toss them aside. It’s absurd to suggest that clean energy is not a priority in the U.S. With central, top-down regulation, industry lobbyists invariably move into place take

control and make the decisions. With consumerbased distributive generation, the consumer makes the decision. In the last decade, the solar power industry has scaled globally beyond recognition, and even now, it is only the beginning of a 30-year boom. With scale, private capital and competition, the economics of distributive solar energy are 10 years ahead of only recent predictions. Today, grid-tied solar energy is affordable and an economic investment for home and business. All of the carbon industry think tank gameplaying and promulgation of misinformation will not change the reality. Do the research, do the math; a small-scale grid-tied solar system on your home at less than $5 a watt is a very sound proposition. It creates instant value and is a perfect hedge against rising electricity costs, and the environmental attributes are immeasurable. And, it will only get better. In 2010, the U.S. installed 887 MW of grid connected solar electricity, an increase of 100 percent from the previous year. More significantly, according to the SEIA there were 16 states in 2010 that exceeded 10 MW of PV installations; this is an increase from four states in three years time. Solar electricity in a phenomenon that is twisting and turning, jumping over hurdles and spreading across the U.S. It cannot be contained. This year the Solar Power International (SPI) exposition begins its five-year expedition outside the safe haven of California with its first stop in Dallas, Texas. The “energy state” is currently ranked 10th in solar installations even though it possesses the best physical and demographic solar attributes in the nation. So, what’s up in Texas? Here’s what: a municipal utility and consumerdriven movement that will place Texas in the top three states by 2015. Nine out of 10 Americans want more solar energy. Solar energy distributive generation is a ground swell movement, and it will feed on itself. As solar power systems become a more ubiquitous part of our landscape and cityscape, the growth will become wildly exponential.


Representing clients within the renewable energy and clean technology industries BIOFUELS BIOFUEL CELLS BIOMASS C OGENERAT ION GEO THERMAL WIND

Robert B. Reeser III, Energy Practice Leader 800.243.5070 /


by Joel Cornell


10 Summer 2011

As a young lad growing up in Orlando, Fla., I enjoyed direct access to every boy’s favorite government agency: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Yes, NASA. To that young man, the IRS couldn’t be more boring, the USPS was just a service, the CIA was where Jack Ryan worked and nothing more. But, NASA? NASA was where the heroes were; the most adventurous and inspiring people on the planet and off it as well. They were the ones who would show us the wonders of the universe, take us around Cygnus X-1 and back. They would make first contact. They would save the world. But, in July 2011, that young man’s heart was broken. NASA’s budget was eviscerated. That gorgeous old space shuttle will rocket towards the final frontier no longer. As Neil deGrasse Tyson put it rather poignantly, “our human mind, forged and wired for decision-making on the Serengeti, is drawn to Las Vegas — and is helpless there.” So, we’re out of luck. Or rather, we’re on hold while the government has social security checks and subsidies to hand out, X number of wars to fight, Medicare to provide, infrastructure to develop, and so on. Granted, NASA has more than its fair share of failures and relics it can and should discard, and it is by no means a dead organization. But with so many pressures, both known and unknown, keeping the government consistently broke, do we want the future of our renewable energy sources in the bound hands of such an institution? General Electric’s Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt seems to think not. Recently, at a company meeting at one of the company’s gas turbine factories, Immelt spoke of his plans for GE to step up the production of wind power turbines. The

CEO expressed sentiments concerning the ongoing decreases in the cost of producing renewable energy technologies, and how government subsidies would hopefully be no longer needed. In general, Immelt made it clear that he is done relying on the U.S. government to develop a more comprehensive energy policy. On the numbers side, the disparity between public and private is clear. Teachers are taking shots to their already meager budgets left and right, the USPS has considered dropping Saturday as a work day, and there’s no end in sight to the constant bickering about spending cuts versus raised taxes. Meanwhile, Apple has followed Moore’s law to the letter with their newest iWhatever ready to keep dominating the market, the Tony Stark-esque Richard Branson wants to fly you into space himself and probably will, digital storage capacity and processing power are growing exponentially across the board, and the private sector at large has seen much faster and much larger net job growth over the public sector since mid 2010, according to the U.S. News and World Report. So, does any of this mean that the government should get out of the energy industry, leaving all of the work to the innovation of the wild and free marketplace? No. However, with such a track record, it would be difficult to expect such endeavors to succeed as wildly as similar work does in the private sector, especially as the technology becomes more widely available. That’s certainly not to say that the private sector is as reliable (I’m looking at you Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, Rogers, I could go on), but its future seems brighter. At this point, with states like New Jersey being a shining example, the government has indeed been a very important player in the development of renewable energy plans. Their subsidies, grants, and infrastructure have proved invaluable as we’ve come this far. However, as the cost and difficulty of manufacturing renewable energy technologies plummet exponentially, the rabid and explosive innovation from the private industry has demonstrated its familiar hunger for more customers, whatever the product may be. This drive for dollars alone will bring renewable technologies to anyone and everyone, provided that the interest in the market is there. As prices fall, interest and information spread, and consumers seek to switch to renewable energy, the beast that is the free market will take its course naturally and easily. Renewable energy technologies, and the energy industry as a whole, simply need all the help they can get. Big business and the public sector both see the market opening up slowly but surely. If our government can stand alongside and encourage that market growth, then so be it.

Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Not ready for lift-off


Obama Administration Guarantees Loan of $737 Million For 24/7 Solar Power Plant Just recently the Obama administration and the United State Department of Energy guaranteed a loan of $737 million to solar startup SolarReserve in order to begin the process of building a new 110 mW solar thermal power plant in Nevada that will be generating electricity 24 hours a day. A large scale developer of of solar power projects, SolarReserve was formed to solve two of the fundamental barriers of renewable energy: scalability and storage. Unlike hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass, and other renewable energy technologies that use limited renewable fuel sources, SolarReserve’s power plants draw their heat from the sun - earth’s ultimate source of clean energy. And unlike wind and photovoltaics, SolarReserve’s power plants can deliver power whenever it is needed, either 24 hours per day or only during “peak” demand. By overcoming these two key barriers, SolarReserve enables utility-scale, clean, renewable electricity generation. With construction slated to being in the summer of 2011, and operations planned to begin in late 2013, the plant on the Crescent Dunes will be the largest molten salt power tower project in the world. Aiming to provide power to nearly 75,000 homes across the state, the project comes under a long-term power purchase agreement with NV Energy. “Today’s announcement is about one thing: creating good paying clean energy jobs right here in Nevada,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “Innovative companies like SolarReserve are helping ensure that Nevada can lead the nation in clean energy production, putting people back to work and pushing America toward energy independence. They deserve all the public and private support we can muster.” The project expects to create over 600 jobs on site over the 30-month construction period. Indirectly, the project may also create over 4,300 jobs in the facility supply chain. Per current estimations, the project will cost $10 million annually in operating costs, while generating $37 million annually in total tax revenues over the course of the plant’s first 10 years in operation.

12 Summer 2011

Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State of the Department of Energy and Climate Change

All Islands Approach Offers New Renewable Opportunities Ministers from Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man signed deal called the “All Islands Approach,” to help and encourage developers to make the most of the commercial opportunities for the generation and transmission of local renewable energy. The deal should also increase the integration and cooperation between different regional markets; therefore, better securing the constant supply of renewable energy like surplus wind energy to be sold to Ireland and mainland Europe. “There is a massive potential source of clean, green, secure energy that remains untapped in the Irish Sea and onshore in Ireland, as well as around the Channel Islands,” said the UK Minister of State for Energy Charles Hendry. In conjunction, the Scottish government issued a carbon calculator tool for developers that keeps track of the carbon savings generated by onshore wind farms. “Optimising the natural renewable resource available around our islands would benefit us all. It makes much more sense to develop and share clean, green, secure energy with our neighbors than import vast amounts of fossil fuels from far flung parts of the world,” Henry said.

Photo: Department of Energy and Climate Change

Stories by Paige L. Hill and Joel Cornell


Evergreen Solar Receives $58 Million From Mass., Moves 800 Jobs From U.S. to China Evergreen Solar recently announced that it will close it’s manufacturing facility in Devens, Mass., stating several reasons for the decision such as the disadvantage the U.S. faces in low-cost Chinese solar suppliers. This closure has resulted in the loss of over 800 U.S. jobs, leaving only 100 at the company’s headquarters in Marlborough, Mass.

This controversial move comes right after Evergreen solar was the beneficiary of Mass.’ efforts to develop a new boom in the solar energy industry. The firm was granted $58 million in state aid, in the form of both tax credits and direct grants. According to one summary, these incentives include a $15 million property tax break, a $7.5 million state tax break, $2.7 million through a subsidized lease and $21 million in cash grants; other summaries include the $13 million spent by the state in construction on roads and other infrastructure that support the plant. “Solar manufacturers in China have received considerable government and financial support and, together with their low manufacturing costs, have become price leaders within the industry. While the United States and other western industrial economies are beneficiaries of rapidly declining installation costs of solar energy, we

expect the United States will continue to be at a disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint,” said Evergreen Solar president and CEO Michael El-Hillow in a statement. According to statements from Mass. Governor Deval Patrick, the state believes that at least some of the financial incentives that Evergreen Solar received should be returned now that the plant has closed its doors. Patrick said that the state will seek clawbacks from Evergreen Solar for their actions, though he acknowledged that the state most likely came out even on the deal when all of the numbers are taken into account. Although, the 800 green collar jobs remain lost, nearly half of the employees laid off have found new work since, which El-Hillow claims is due to the training they received during their time at Evergreen Solar.

New WindMade Consumer Label to Set Standards For Products WindMade,™ the first global consumer label for companies using wind energy, was presented to the public today, on Global Wind Day (15 June). The WindMade™ initiative took shape as the proposed WindMade™ technical standard enters a two-month public consultation period. The proposed standard requires participating companies to source a minimum of 25 per cent of their electricity demand from wind power. This level is set to strike a balance between an ambitious target and an achievable goal for progressive companies striving to make a tangible impact. The development of the WindMade™ label has progressed swiftly since its introduction at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2011, with the standard for companies and organisations presented today. Work on the more multifaceted WindMade™ standard for products is scheduled

to begin later this year. “The initiative is backed by the wind power industry, and we believe that the label will build a bridge between consumers and companies committed to clean energy,” said Steve Sawyer, Chairman of the WindMade™ Board and Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council. ”We hope to see widespread participation in the public consultation and strongly encourage interested parties to review and comment on the standard.” “I am extremely pleased to see how far WindMade has come since the presentation in Davos in January,” said Ditlev Engel, President and CEO, Vestas Wind Systems. “Vestas is very proud to be a member of this impressive group of WindMade’s founding partners and I look forward to the day in the near future when consumers can power change and choose products made with wind energy.”

The public consultation period was launched today at an event in New York City, which also saw the introduction of WindMade’s™ newly appointed CEO Henrik Kuffner. ”I firmly believe that today’s launch is the beginning of a movement that will make a real difference to investments in wind power around the world, and I am very excited to be given the opportunity to spearhead this effort” he said. ”On behalf of WindMade™, we would like to thank the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Wind Energy Foundation for hosting the official U.S. launch of WindMade in New York City today.”

Germany May Be First to Store Wind Power in Mountain Coal Mines

Harz mountain range, Germany

The German state of Lower Saxony is looking to repurpose abandoned coal mines on the side of the Harz mountains into pumped storage for wind power. The idea is being lauded by environmentalists for the invisibility of storage and by local, former coal miners for and putting the coal mines to good use. “The tradition of mining is so great in the Harz region, that they want to see the mines back in use again, so there are practically no critics of the project,” noted Marko Schmidt, an engineer for Lower Saxony’s Energy Research Center, who came up with the concept. Traditional pumped storage uses gravity to harness wind power, using downhill gravity to drive the turbines to make electricity — Schmidt’s innovative idea would be the world’s first use of an abandoned coal mine for this purpose. Schmidt estimates that a pilot plant could be built within the next three to five years for between 170 and 200 million euros, that would be large enough to provide up to 400 MW of storage capacity at a time, enough to power 40,000 local households for a day.

Energy Leaders Today 13




sunny side up By Solar Impulse

The Solar Impulse plane which debuted at the Paris Air Show in June simply won’t fly unless the skies are sunny enough to power the 10,000 solar cells across its 207-foot wingspan. Though the one-seater plane, piloted by the company’s CEO Andre Borschberg, marks a step forward for solar energy, there are a few kinks to work out before it could become a commercial option. When Borschberg flew the lightweight plane from Brussells, Belgium to Paris it took him 16 hours – five to cover the 200 miles of travel and 11 hours circling the airport waiting for the wind to die down enough for him to safely land.

14 Summer 2011

2 podular technology By Archipod

Aiming to create garden office buildings specifically designed to complement a garden landscape, Archipod has brought their unique design to consumers who are seeking something efficient, ergonomic and unusual. Constructed predominantly from timber, the world’s most replenishable construction material, insulated to a standard exceeding that of current Building Regulations. The structure is prefabricated in sections small enough to be carried through a house. So no matter where you live, the team at Archipod will be able to land the ‘Pod’ onto your site.


did you hear that? By uBeam

Despite our many advancements into a completely wireless world, we are still tied down by one thing – our power cords. But should the ultrasonic power transfer prototype uBeam presented at the D9 tech conference in California go mainstream, we would be able to charge our laptops, cell phones, i-pads, etc. through sound alone. The designers demonstrated how they are able to move five volts at 50 milliamps between a transmitter and a receptor sitting three feet apart; and that, they have since reached 25 watts at a 10-foot distance.

15 Summer 2011


power the future By Implux

With a vision of helping to save the global habitat for all future generations, Katru EcoEnergy has taken great strides in bringing sources of renewable energy closer to home. The firm’s most recent invention is the innovative new Implux Wind Power Turbine. Currently undertaking the international patenting process, the turbines are easily integrated into any working energy system and are quite visually attractive to boot. The unique design is yet another large and essential step towards easy access to renewable energy sources in any setting.

hot rocks, make steam, push fan By Babcock & Wilcox

Š2011 Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Energy, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Due to size limitations, nuclear energy facilities tend to be few and far between. Nuclear reactor manufacturers Babcock & Wilcox have just brought to the Tennessee Valley Authority a plan to make the first small modular commercial nuclear power plants. In order to simplify an already simple technology, the firm has brought down the scale in a big way. These reactors will be perfect for small commercial endeavors, use in cities and even in our backyards. First things first, however; Babcock & WIlcox is currently working hand in hand with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in order to ensure that these small reactors are as safe as can be.

16 Summer 2011



making monet By Insuladd

salty alternative By Statkraft

Norway’s state-owned power company is closing in on how to harness osmotic power by partnering with Japan’s Nitto Denko/Hydranautics to develop and make membranes for what will eventually be commercial-grade osmotic power plants. The lesser-known form of alternative energy, will be harnessed as a byproduct of the kinetic push-and-pull which is created when a semi-permeable membrane is placed between fresh water and salt water. Statkraft has already opened a small prototype osmotic plant along the Oslo Fjord where it funnels fresh water from the Tofte River into a chamber separated from a salt water chamber by a thin polymer membrane.


Even Joe Schmo can instantly turn his home or office into an energy efficient modern marvel. Insuladd® Radiant Barrier Heat Reflecting House Paints and Additive are the inexpensive, and simple to use answer. This heat reflecting radiant barrier paint (or additive added to paint) can be used on any structure to better insulate one's home in the winter and keep cool in the summer. The biggest reward? Low energy bills.

forget the iron horse By Ecotricity


During the highly prestigious Isle of Man TT Races, some of the absolute finest superbikes in the world come out to play. Joining them this year will something of a unique entry: a wind powered superbike called The Ion Horse. Designed by Dale Vince, who also designed a wind powered car called the Nemesis, the Ion Horse hopes to be the first electric superbike in the races to finish a single lap at an average speed exceeding 100 mph. The bike’s lithium polymer cobalt cells allow it to get from 0-60 mph in just 3 seconds, with a top speed of 140 mph.

17 Summer 2011


18 Summer 2011


Energy Leaders Today 19


20 Summer 2011


This Ontario-based distribution company has streamlined their business to what their Canadian clients demand – PV solar, off-grid systems and personalized customer service. By Paige L. Hill


OPPOSITE: Canada's National Tower (CN Tower), in Toronto, Ontario. Photo: Jupiterimages ABOVE, TOP, CENTER AND BOTTOM: No instructions necessary for the solar installation crew out of the various companies that G2 Solar sells wholesale solar panels to; but, most are experts in the art of setting up renewable energy sources required of an off-grid home or cottage in the Great White North.

hey are doing things differently up in the Great White North, according to Mike McFadden, president of G2 Solar wholesale distribution company out of Ontario, Canada. “Our customers need something more from us than just a phone call,” McFadden said. “We are one of the few companies that cater to all of Canada, including Calgary and Alberta which means providing a lot of systems that are specific to our needs.” When the large American dealer McFadden had worked with for a number of years decided to stop dealing to his home country, Canada, McFadden took the opportunity to form the kind of company he had always wanted to work for — McFadden and his business partner, Bruce Woodstock formed G2 Solar in 2009. “We all had opportunities to do other things since our combined backgrounds are more diverse than renewable energy, but energy solutions are what we are passionate about,” McFadden said. With over 20 years of combined experience, the founders of G2 Solar recognized the need for a leading edge distribution company to service the rapid growth of renewable energy based systems in Canada; but also, the style of service that his countrymen respond to best. “The personal touch is really necessary for Canadian dealers — they expect our sales guy to meet with them and have lunch,” McFadden said. “Without having ownership of the company before, we found it very difficult to convey how Canadians responded to different business models. Our business model currently reflects our knowledge of that market.” The company, like many other distributors, specializes in the distribution of renewable energy products, especially PV systems; but, no standard solar system that could be used

Energy Leaders Today 21


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: G2 Solar's solar panels range greatly in size and power capacity according to the size of the project. G2 Solar is situated at the "gateway to cottage country" or an area of Canada where many have second homes off the grid. Companies specifically suited to installing an off-grid system come to even the most remote locations to provide clients with renewable energy options. Always an opportunity for solar panels to soak in a little sunshine. Grid tie inverters convert the natural energy into a usuable energy. Photos Courtesy G2. OPPOSITE PAGE: Off the grid in the Ontario wilderness. Photo:

in Arizona or Texas will do. By streamlining the business to Canadian clients, G2 is able to stock a variety of off-grid products and systems geared towards the 40 below Fahrenheit winters that their clients endure. “Choosing what to stock is a bit intuitive at this point,” McFadden said. Off-grid products, especially, are important in a country that is still vastly undeveloped. When the grid is not available to interact with, like in the homes of many Canadians who live or vacation in “weekend cottages,” they require off-grid or stand alone systems. The power generated from the solar system is stored in a battery bank and then inverted into normal household AC power. “Once you get out of the city pretty much anywhere in Canada, it’s a wilderness of trees and mountains,” McFadden said. “Going to one’s cottage on the weekend is widespread activity here, especially in Ontario. We’ve positioned our business at the gateway to cottage country. The off-grid market has historically been our bread and butter. It’s important to us to not leave the off-grid market behind – we’re always looking for the most efficient and cutting edge products in this market.” McFadden said the market for off-grid products on his end has grown by 20 or 30 percent every year since he started G2. From G2’s warehouse, the dealer takes over. Many of them have dedicated their business to exclusively installing systems in remote areas of Canada. Before the availability of off-grid power, cottage-goers generally relied on generators or went without power. Off-grid systems are the most popular in Canada and have a long history of being a very cost effective and reliable source of electricity where the grid is not available. “There have been advancements in charge controllers since the more traditional models came onto the market,” Mc Fadden said. In off-grid systems, G2 stocks Solar Tech Power Inc. products, because of their long history in the off-grid market and their adaptability to tie-in with the Solar Tech Power high wattage grid tie modules – capacity options range from 5W to 130W. These systems also meet the stringent certification requirements 22 Summer 2011


Energy Leaders Today 23


LEFT: “Heliene modules atop the C.N.E. building in Toronto, Ontario. An Advanced Green Technologies (AGT) installation in partnership with RBI Inc.” RIGHT: “Heliene modules mounted on a 10kW Solar Tracking System by Western Solar”

24 Summer 2011

Heliene Inc. is the premier manufacturer of Photovoltaic Modules in Ontario, Canada. Their production facility is located in the heart of the Great Lakes and features the most sophisticated automation in the industry. Since their inception in mid-October of 2010 through April 2011, Heliene has produced a staggering 15MW of renewable energy, the equivalent of preventing over 17,000 tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere each year. At Heliene Inc. their main focus and INTERNATIONAL| SOLAR mission is to produce the highest quality product for the most competitive price. Along with this focus we are generating much needed economic growth by helping progress the “Solar Revolution” in North America. The ability for Heliene to provide this growth started with the introduction of the Ontario Feed-in-Tariff program (visit: Started in 2009 the FIT and microFIT programs have showed the dedication by the Ontario government to progress renewable energy and should serve as a notice and example to those outside their borders. Heliene’s products are backed by proven European technology and have been manufactured for years in their Spanish facility located in the North of Barcelona, Spain. On a global scale Heliene Inc. is the flagship facility for a larger group of companies that all manufacture the same high quality solar modules. In 2011 this group of facilities, located in Canada, France, Spain and the U.S.A, will produce approximately 250MW, enough to power over 20,000 homes for the next 20 years. Heliene offers the highest efficiency monocrystalline solar modules in both 60-cell and 72-cell configuration. Each 72-cell module is capable of producing 300Wp of pure energy and can drastically reduce system installation costs. For more information on how Heliene can source your renewable energy needs visit

BLUE SKY ENERGY Blue Sky Energy was the leading force in developing Maximum Power Point Tracking charge controllers in the late 90’s. Installed throughout the world, Solar Boost controllers work to provide power for the military, disaster relief, homes, cabins, RV’s, boats, street lights, security cameras, telcom sites and more. Consistently striving to create new technologies in the renewable energy industry Blue Sky Energy developed IPN (Integrated Power Network) based products. IPN based products provide for MPPT solar charging with many added benefits combined into a single charging unit. IPN based products include lighting control, load control, auxiliary battery charging, solar with wind/ hydro diversion option, and our new UCM™ Universal Communication Module for remote system monitoring. Blue Sky Energy brings to the marketplace new ideas, new products and new options to keep costs down with all the proven reliability our customers have come to expect when choosing MPPT solar charge controllers. For more information on Blue Sky Energy please visit RIGHT, TOP: Canada's wilderness is home to weekend cottages in need of solar power. Photo: RIGHT, BOTTOM: In need of a caption here. In need of a caption here. In need of a caption here. In need of a caption here. In need of a caption here. Photo courtesy G2 Solar.

in industrial applications under Canadian law. Many former off-grid users have been able to convert to grid tie panels; and, the incentives to do so keep getting better. Increasingly, bringing power into a new area is cost prohibitive and the option to become your own energy company is a viable option in Canada. The Ontario Power Authority recently introduced a Feed-In Tariff program for commercial aggregators (CFIT), which is intended for micro-fit generation projects where the proponent has multiple projects. The proposed price is currently 71 cents per kWh for rooftop solar PV panels and 44 cents per kWh for groundmounted solar PV panels. In bridging that gap, G2 offers MicroGrid Inverters (MGi) from progressive energy-efficient company, Enecsys. MGi serves the user as a hybrid application for delivering AC and/or DC power. MGis also help those using generators attain sustainable energy. Like spinning generators, MGi delivers the complete range of power including active and reactive elements. Unlike other forms of distributed generators, however, MGi does not burn carbon-based fuels to generate power or incur proportional loss of capacity when delivering its reactive power components. “We’re always looking for the newest product to hit the market,” McFadden said. “Efficiency is our number one concern when we are looking at carrying a new product. Apparent offers a range of products that work for our clients.” ELT Energy Leaders Today 25


Oasis in the desert 26 Summer 2011


LEFT: Tempe Beach Park, Tempe Ariz. This solar array was built to educate the public on solar energy. Photo by Joseph Kiefer

Arizona-based Harmon Solar is focused on educating residents of the Valley of the Sun about the most abundant resource the state has to offer. by Paige L. Hill


or many solar installation companies in Arizona, utility providers may seem like the enemy. With decreasing incentives and longer approval times for solar systems, it’s easy to get discouraged by all the red tape. Looking a\ on the bright side, Phoenix-based Harmon Solar recognizes the synchronicity between their company’s mission and that of the utility companies, in particular Arizona Public Service (APS). Governed by the Arizona Corporation Commission, APS is required to produce at least 15 percent of their total net energy as renewable energy, with solar being the biggest seller for the desert region. Since Harmon Solar was founded three years ago, the company has focused its efforts on building a strong working relationship with the state’s energy providers to maximize both residential and commercial incentives and grants. Because of this effort, Harmon Solar has secured a large percentage of solar projects in APS’s coverage zone, making Harmon Solar their third largest installer. “Harmon Solar has made a point to work in partnership with the utility companies, especially our largest provider, APS. We see them as a partner in our effort to educate our customers about the benefits of solar,” Harmon’s marketing manager Gary Held said. “People are interested in solar because they want to eliminate their electric bill. APS has been our ally in finding the best possible incentives for our customers, making the cost of a solar system feasible. Energy Leaders Today 27


SOLAR STRUCTURE SYSTEMS Solar Structure Systems is a licensed steel solar carport and solar canopy installer based in Phoenix, Arizona. The solar carports and canopies built by Solar Structure Systems seamlessly blend into surrounding environments, and provide alternatives to mounting solar panels on buildings. Owner, Richard Lara has over 28 years of experience in providing and installing steel carport and steel canopy structures throughout the southwest, which he utilizes to build not only aesthetically appealing solar structures, but ones that can withstand the extremes of the southwestern climate. Solar Structure Systems, LLC is confident that they can provide a steel structure that will fit any application. All structure designs are provided by Caruso Turley Scott engineers, who are licensed in all 50 states, and have a proven track record of highly satisfied clients. All steel fabrication is provided by Gort Metals Corporation, which is one of the largest steel carport fabricators in the southwest. Solar Structure Systems has a portfolio of work which ranges from small commercial jobs to large commercial, industrial, and municipal applications. Solar Structure Systems, LLC has just completed the Tempe Beach Park Solar Pavilion in Tempe Arizona. Working with Harmon Electric, a custom steel structure was designed to accommodate the solar application needed by the City of Tempe. Solar Structure Systems, LLC has also worked with Harmon Electric on solar carport structures for Select Seed, Yuma and St. Gobain in Scottsdale, Arizona. Solar Structure Systems, LLC is looking forward to working with Harmon Solar on future projects. According to Richard Lara, “Harmon Solar has demonstrated quality and commitment in providing solar designs to meet any application.” For more information on Solar Structure Systems, please visit www.

ABOVE: Tempe Beach Park. The solar array at the park in Tempe, Arizona serves as a shade structure for guests of the park. Photo by Joseph Kiefer OPPOSITE PAGE: Av-Air, Inc., Chandler, Ariz. The crews at Harmon Solar construct the super structure for a worldwide aftermarket distributor of commercial aircraft parts for Boeing and Airbus aircraft types. The completed project has 550 panels installed.

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“We realize these incentives won’t last forever; but while we have access to them, the residents and businesses in one of the biggest solar hot spots in the United States should take advantage of them.” Harmon Solar’s reputation with APS played a role in them being chosen as the installer for a federally-funded educational project at Tempe Beach Park in Tempe, Ariz. Completed late spring of this year, the public project is purely for teaching residents how solar energy is harvested and converted into electricity. A ground-mounted educational display doubles as a shade structure for park visitors, who can see the system up close, including the experience of watching the meter run backwards. Harmon Solar installed 52, 220-watt panels to make up an 11.96K system, which includes 52 M-190 Enphase micro-inverters. “The Tempe Beach Park installation is unique because the solar panels actually look like art,” Held

said. “We believe this project has raised Harmon Solar’s profile in the renewable energy arena.” Harmon Solar is part of parent company Harmon Electric, Inc., founded in 1975 by Richard Harmon. In 2006, Richard’s daughter and son-inlaw, Julie and Dan King took over the company. Almost immediately they began investigating the solar industry, and in 2008 a separate company division, Harmon Solar, was born. The locallyowned company has made an impact in Arizona in a short time. In the last year, the company has grown by 200 percent and is expected to grow by another 300 percent in 2011. The sales force has expanded from a team of three to 14. In 2010, Harmon Solar was one of only 55 residential solar installers to achieve the designation of Qualified Solar Installer (QSI) by APS. Harmon Electric’s longstanding in the construction industry allows the company to take advantage


R&R ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS, LLC R&R Engineering Solutions, LLC is a structural engineering firm with extensive background in the manufacturing sector of wood roof systems both in residential and commercial markets. Coming from the design and manufacturing aspect of roof systems, it made perfect sense for us as an engineering firm, to turn our talents towards reverse engineering existing structures to complement the structural requirements of the solar industry at competitive costs. Our years of experience, have proved to be a valuable asset for solar firms in the design and implementation of their residential and commercial projects. From the onset, we recognized the unique nature of roof mounted solar systems. Working together, as strategic partners with the most reputable solar design firms has earned R&R Engineering a strong reputation in the industry and have expanded services for the following states: AZ, CA, NV, NM, CO, TX, NC, FL, ID, MT, OR, UT, WA, & WY.

of a variety of resources through the partnerships they have forged over the years. These connections with construction partners have enabled the company to complete installations with unique challenges, a trait that has become a hallmark of this growing company. Av-Air, Inc., a worldwide aftermarket distributor of commercial aircraft parts for Boeing and Airbus aircraft types, was lamenting the $50,000 energy bill the company racked up in a year and inquired about a commercial installation. Harmon Solar jumped at the prospect to show them how they could offset that bill entirely, and then discovered the panels would have to be installed on a particularly challenging roof: a two-story tilt up building. “In order for Av-Air’s roof to support the weight of the solar panels, the ceiling beams had to be extended and a custom-designed steel super structure was mounted on top of the pillars,” Held said.

A collaborative effort, Harmon Solar worked with Hawkins Design Group and R-n-R Steel to bring the super structure to life. Mounted on top of the steel structure is a 151.6K system of more than 550 Centro panels producing more than 250,000Kw per hour, per year. The extra effort was worthwhile, as Harmon Solar was able to create a system that now offsets 100 percent of Av-Air’s energy bill. Furthering their commitment to raising the standards for the solar installation industry, Harmon Solar gets a professional structural engineering stamp of approval on every project prior to completion. “Although it’s not a requirement in most jurisdictions, we do it because solar systems place an incredible amount of weight on a roof,” Dan King said, COO of Harmon. “It is especially important to Harmon Solar that the structural integrity of a building is not comprised, whether it’s a large

business or a single-family home. In the words of our owner, ‘we do it so we can sleep at night’.” Committed to educating the public about renewable resources, Harmon Solar hosts a blog through their website which not only educates readers about solar energy, but links to relevant news on renewable energy sources and legislation surrounding the industry. The company even uses their Twitter personality, HarmonSolarMan to send out timely news about the industry. Harmon Solar looks forward to not only expanding their presence throughout the state, but also spearheading projects that have a positive environmental impact. A variety of commercial and government-funded projects are in the pipeline. By integrating smart energy consumption into their business model, King feels the company is contributing in their own small way to changing the world. ELT Energy Leaders Today 29


Step by Step With over 20,000 visitors every weekend, Morningstar Market has become a new standard for business as they set an example of just how solar energy can, does and should work for everyone. by Joel Cornell


or the general populous, achieving total freedom from the utility companies via renewable energy sources is something of a pipe dream. It sure would be nice for anyone and everyone to invest in solar, but the relatively new technologies frequently come at too high a price with too little understanding for them to see the big market boom they deserve. Yet, everything starts with baby steps; and Andrew Lentz’ Morningstar Market is one of the more practically applicable steps to date. After a long and highly successful career in the finance industry, Lentz sought out a way to invest in his community in his hometown of York, Penn. Lentz’ first major step was into the farmer’s market industry. This new endeavor, dubbed the Morningstar Market, was first opened in 1999,

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becoming the first new farmer’s market to open in the state in over 55 years. Quite rapidly, the farmer’s market became a huge success. The market continued to grow at an astounding rate, eventually becoming a highly popular destination market. To date, the market draws 15,000 to 20,000 visitors every weekend, from locals in Pennsylvania to out-of-towners from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Washington D.C. and more. However, after a decade and change, the expenses were only getting higher. Lentz, being a savvy financier, sought an innovative way to cut costs and still keep people coming. “The easy choice was solar,” Lentz said. “We were looking into wind power as well, but there’s simply not enough sustainable wind in the region for that technology to make sense. As we were looking to cut costs, we were also searching for a way to expand the business. We had wanted to expand into a flea market alongside our farmer’s market, but the township wasn’t as convinced; there was too much traffic as it was. “I was already using solar technology to replace the traditional energy sources the market was using. So, we decided to turn that same technology into a new business venture. We replaced our old system with a new 631 kW system, which powered the market fully in addition to 15 nearby homes. As I learned that we would be eliminating over 800 metric tons of carbon monoxide and over 24 million gallons of water, the shape of this forthcoming ‘green’ boom became quite clear to me.” More than just a new solar array, Lentz saw his investment as a new attrac-


tion for his current consumer base. Alongside weekly tours of the market’s state of the art solar array, Lentz also has created a unique interactive site at the market called the Power Lobby. Through a unique and engaging design, Lentz is able to show thousands upon thousands of visitors every weekend that solar isn’t just something for upper class residences, large corporations and utility companies. It’s a highly practical solution for all of our energy woes. Through his example and this new interactive site, Lentz can demonstrate in real time how much energy has been generated, used and sold for that day, that month, and since the installation of the system. With so much traffic through the site, and so much landscape maintenance required for the solar field, Lentz found himself wear of having to constantly maintain the systems in order to keep them pristine for the viewing public. As an additional tourist draw, Lentz has employed a unique group for keeping his fields in a way that keeps debris to a minimum: alpacas. Outside of the farmer’s market is the relatively new flea market. At over 65,000 sq. ft., Lentz frequently heard complaints concerning the troubles the elements caused. From torrential downpours to heavy snowfall and blister 100 degree (F) temperatures, Lentz needed a solution. What he’s created is something more. Although still in the initial design stages, Lentz has created a gargantuan solar canopy across the entirety of the outdoor flea market. Through this system, Lentz will be able to easily provide shelter for the more than 300

businesses at the flea market. To boot, the canopy uses the field to its fullest, generating an expected 1.3 mW. As the whole of the market’s energy needs are covered by the Morningstar Market’s initial 631 kW system, the new 1.3 mW system will provide power to nearly 150 nearby homes. The installation of this new larger system is slated for 2012. “Originally, my goal was to turn Morningstar Market into a destination farmer’s market,” Lentz said. “What we’ve become is a solar tourist attraction that serves as a small business incubator was well. We give people an inexpensive way to start a new business, or enhance their existing one. We demonstrate how self employment works best here. I’ve been self employed for over 30 years now, and I’ve been able to achieve that through cost effective, innovative technologies, just like solar.” Currently, Morningstar Market is home to over 75 business in the farmer’s market and 300 businesses outside in the daily flea market. But, Lentz’ grandiose visions don’t stop there. Lentz is currently working on using the 17 acres adjacent to the market as a 24,000 sq. ft. exposition center. With the ability to host a vast array of different conventions for crafting, gaming, cars, books, etc., Lentz again hopes to turn a traditional business endeavor into an example. Through attracting people for an expo or a market, before showing visitors the wonders of solar power, Lentz hopes to see his 20,000 visitors per weekend double as he works to spread his gospel of solar energy. ELT

Energy Leaders Today 31


LEFT: CAP Solar is developing better technonolgies in high efficiency Solar LED Lighting for pathway and flood lighting.

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Lighting Up The World T

he amount of sunlight cast on the Earth during a 24-hour period, if properly captured, would be enough to meet our planet’s current demand for energy over the course of an entire year. The industry veterans from CAP Solar understand the opportunity for global solutions that is presented by this prospect. The small, yet experienced company is taking a uniquely focused approach to designing, manufacturing and implementing solar solutions through a vast array of custom products that they hope will change the world. “Here in Alberta, we benefit from a uniquely progressive business culture,” said CAP Solar President Jason Wright. “That’s not just in terms of fair tax rates. Alberta is oil and cattle country; there are lots of livestock and farming businesses out here. These industries have been our core market, and working directly with the people involved in the industry has given us great insight into what is needed and what is superfluous in the many solar product we develop and manufacture.” Since the company’s inception in 1985, CAP Solar’s core business has been in solar water pumping systems. In particular, and largely due to their location in Olds, Alberta, a small town with a population just over 7,000, CAP Solar’s core clientele has been specialty pump systems for livestock in remote locations. In their first years, CAP Solar was one of the first businesses in the region that developed and manufactured their own solar pumps with huge amounts of input from individual clients. “Our first years saw an opportunity in the cattle industry to develop a product that supplied clean water off site,” Wright said. “Here in Canada, there are huge tracts of land, and typically farmers are moving cattle quite often due to environmental issue with grass, etc. Sometimes there’s a creek or a small lake, but that’s not a common occurrence. Our approach was not to supply all farmers with some kind of water pump system, but provide some farmers the perfect system. Our focus on research and development and hands-on manufacturing has really fostered our growth in the agricultural industry. Pat Brydges, General Manager for CAP Solar and one third of the staff, joined the company in 2009, he said because of their incredible and

The light in the world comes principally from two sources — the sun and the designer’s lamp. CAP Solar’s work in solar water pumping and purification systems gives new hope in meeting our planet’s energy needs. by Joel Cornell

Energy Leaders Today 33


CLOCKWISE, FROM RIGHT: Robert Whitfield of CAP Solar demonstrating the solar direct operation of their Portable Water Purification System. The EnerCAP (TM) is a portable, self contained cattle stock tank used in remote off-grid applications. It can operate in temperatures below -40 C. CAP Solar supplied and installed this 8 kW grid-tie solar system at Olds College in 2009. Production of Water Purification Systems at the Olds, Alberta Facility.

outstanding focus on research and development. “I come from an automotive background in southern Ontario, before I came to Alberta to work in the oil industry,” Brydges said. “I was looking for new opportunities closer to home and saw the possibilities in CAP Solar, both in terms of great expansion on the business side and the global applications solar technology can have around the world. CAP Solar has the legacy of being one of the first in the solar game in our region, but also the focus on R&D that’s let us change the game locally and abroad.” CAP Solar has been able to provide custom solar water pump systems on a global scale usually reserved for much larger firms, despite their just three-person staff. Additionally, the firm has made great strides in expanding the technology in both grid tied and off grid solar systems, as well as solar water purification systems. The firm has worked with agencies such as UNICEF, Care Canada, the Red Cross and Shepherd’s Purse, as well as the Canadian government. 34 Summer 2011

They maintain relationships with distributors for their solar water purification systems in Zimbabwe, Bolivia and the Caribbean. A large majority of their products are custom engineering for use all across Canada, but mainly in their home province of Alberta. “The implications for solar water purification along in places like Africa have been enormous,” Wright said. “In regions like Zimbabwe, where we’ve been working for some time now, there’s an abundance of water, but a lack of purity in the water that leads to widespread disease and an overall lack of health care and resources.” Developed in 2009, CAP Solar’s water purification systems are entirely portable units from start to finish. Other competitors in North America have designed similar solar water pump and purification systems, but the need for batteries and other components that relatively rare in the third world gave CAP Solar a goal that they’ve met in a very short amount of time. “Solar water purification systems simply needed

something more,” Brydges said. “The solar direct applications we’ve developed feature small electrical units that reduce the voltage output of the solar panel to within the range of the UV light system that purifies the water. It features an emergency shutdown measure should the power source drop below seven volts. This lets us remove the battery and change the game. “Ours is a double filtering system on a 12 volt pump. A pre-filter removes any grains or dirt, which lets the UV light system properly penetrate to fully neutralize the microorganisms that spread disease. This technology has been around since the 1950s. We decided that with the number of disasters in the world, we could take this a step further and use our tech to create a simpler system that could see easy implementation in the most impoverished regions of the world. You can drill a well anywhere in Kenya and find water, but it won’t be drinkable. Take a solar panel and our units, and in a region that sees over 330 days of sun a year, you’ll have easy


access to clean water in a heartbeat.� Beyond solar water pumps, filtration systems and standard photovoltaic grid tied and off grid systems, CAP Solar has also been focusing their R&D efforts into solar LED lighting. In putting this technology through their development process, the company has been able to produce brighter and more efficient lighting systems idealized for remote markets in the oil and agriculture industries. The root of CAP Solar has been in the local agriculture market since their inception, and will remain a mainstay at 25 percent of the company’s total business. With 26 years of experience behind them, the firm is currently looking at moving into the development and manufacture of solar water purification systems on a much larger scale. Their current prototypes work at a rate of 12 gallons a minutes, based on the same platform as their currently available purification systems. The product is scheduled to be finished by January 2012, and will again see CAP Solar setting new standards for global solar applications. ELT Energy Leaders Today 35


Giving Back Green John Tabor of Tabor Design Build, Inc. in the Washington, D.C. area uses his skills to help wounded veterans, as well as help residents build greener, better homes. By Paige L. Hill

ABOVE: A new ramp, screen doors and patio installed in the home of a disabled war veteran. With the help of companies such as TW Perry, Tabor was able to donate labor for this and other similar projects. OPPOSITE: The Stone Family kitchen remodel, in Clarksville, Md., began with the installation of a bay window to let in more natural light. The old cabinets, countertops, appliances and fixtures were donated to needy families, and the flooring and other materials were recycled elsewhere in the house. Green products were used wherever possible, including Forest Stewardship Council certified maple and cherry cabinets, and recycled concrete and glass countertops. For this kitchen remodel Tabor Design Build received the Grand Prize for "Green Interior Remodeling" at the 2008 NARI Capital Contractor of the Year (Coty) Awards.

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ife is too short for John Tabor to wait around for someone else to decide to hire him. The owner of Tabor Design Build, Inc., based out of Rockville, Md., Tabor said he realized that if he wanted to design and build at the prolific pace he was yearning to do, he needed to stop waiting around for his bid to be picked, but make these projects come to life himself. “The rule in traditional bidding is that only 10 percent of projects are completed; and in designbuild it’s only 10 percent that don’t get completed — we were spending a lot of time waiting and receiving bad news,” Tabor said. “When I heard about design-build I thought ‘this is how you do it!’ You design with the budget in mind and take into account all the things you want to do from the beginning.” Tabor, who brought 15 years of experience to construction before founding his own designbuild firm in the mid-90’s, started out doing simple designs for free and operating based on the idea that the client would hire the firm to also build the project. When he designed a basement for free and later found out that the client hired someone else to build it, he realized his business model needed to change. “I asked the client to take me through the basement, and there it was, my design in every part of it, yet I didn’t get to execute it,” Tabor said. “When he asked me to design some more, I decided right then that we don’t design for free anymore and I haven’t looked back. My time and skills are worth something, and that’s where my mindset is now.” With Tabor’s more tightly focused control, he was able to finally incorporate the green aspects of construction that he had wanted to while he had worked for developers, like minimizing waste and using recycled materials. “I started reading about what ‘green remodeling’ is and realized that we’ve been doing this all along, even if we didn’t know what it was called,” Tabor said. “Our firm has always been focused on using resources wisely, recycling materials and wasting as little as possible; that just makes sense. We’ve certainly grown in terms of what we offer in terms of sustainable building practices, but that idea has always been the focus of our work.” Tabor’s approach to marketing his business as pro-green has been somewhat “walk softly and carry big stick” for his often global-warming-wary clients. “I feel that the idea of going green has become too politicized and some clients think going green is like switching political parties,” Tabor said. “I’ve watched eager clients cross their arms and become disinterested as soon as I say ‘green’. So, we don’t give them the option of going green or not because our firm is simply going to practice green construction because it makes sense in economics and quality construction.” For the more experimental technology in the sustainable sector, Tabor is performing tests on his

own home before putting his stamp of approval on it and offering it to clients. Tabor is finishing a three-story addition on his home, from the basement to his children’s bedrooms. The endless pool and hot tub in the extended basement is sunk into the basement’s foundation by pouring concrete into a form made out of two and half inch thick Styrofoam. The process of pouring concrete is easier with the new method and insulates much better. “I’m using my home as the guinea pig,” Tabor said. “I know it speaks highly of a product when the owner of the company will use it on his own home, so I’m figuring out what works and what’s the best and then incorporating it into my business. I want to be able to say ‘yes, we can put an endless pool in your basement, too.’” Tabor’s home now relies solely on a localized geothermal group loop, combined with a solar photovoltaic system mounted to the roof. This combined system will see the home operating at full capacity and entirely independent of energy purchased from local utilities. The light-colored metal roof he replaced his traditional one for also helps heat the home in the colder winter months. Tabor is also trying a new insulation technique on the bedroom additions by putting in 2x6 foam and fiberglass insulation. “Who wants to give money to the energy companies? I certainly don’t,” Tabor said. The additions for his twin son and daughter’s bedroom will give them much-needed space and a sitting area with a fireplace. The high-efficiency fireplace also uses a recycled vintage mantle. “The mantle is one of those really nice period pieces that I saved from a job; I guess, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” Tabor said. He has remodeled his home every few years using all Tabor employees to also gain insight into what his clients go through on their remodeling projects. “We try to streamline our remodeling as much as we can by doing all of the spec work and getting the materials before we enter the home,” Tabor said. “When I remodel, I get a firsthand look at how we are doing and I refine our practices.” The team at Tabor is constantly refining their business model and continuing their education on how to better serve the client. As a member of the Remodelers Advantage, a peer review group dedicated to improving the remodeling industry, Tabor employs only NARI Certified Lead Carpenters. Their commitment to constantly improving has earned them many awards including the “2009 Remodeling Excellence Award” from Chrysalis and NARI’s “Contractor of the Year Award” in 2007 and 2008. Tabor isn’t satisfied resting on his laurels, though. He has a charity in the works that adapts homes for wounded veterans returning from war. If the veteran is not local, Tabor is willing to find a contractor near the client that can do the project for him.


“Seeing these veterans make major sacrifices like losing an arm or a leg after putting their lives at risk makes me almost tear up,” Tabor said. “The least we can do is make their transition back to civilian life easier.” Tabor’s first project was building wheelchair ramps and widening door frames for a female Navy veteran who had become disabled. Tabor asked his team who would be willing to volunteer some weekend hours to the project and found that he got a big turnout when it came to wounded veterans. He has communicated with the Walter Reed Veteran Hospital and Navy Medical Center to locate veterans in need, but Tabor said finding them can be tough. “As soon as they return home it seems like the government forgets about them,” Tabor said. “But when we do find someone, the response is huge. On our first project we gave one vet the chance to go out in her backyard again, something she had not been able to for a long time.” His dream is to make the charity into a national organization that connects returning wounded veterans with contractors who can adapt their homes. “You know you’ve got something when even carpenters are willing to give up their Sunday to volunteer,” Tabor said. ELT Energy Leaders Today 37



100-year-old lumber yard offers innovative and modern approach to building industry by Paige L. Hill

ABOVE: Photo from the early 1900s of TW Perry in Silver Spring, Md. TW Perry is celebrating its 100 years. FAR LEFT: Michael Cassidy, TW Perry, President & CEO. LEFT: TW Perry's President & CEO, Michael Cassidy volunteered with Tabor Design/Build to install a handicap access ramp for a retired veteran nurse who had been injured in Vietnam.


he Washington D.C.-area building materials dealer, TW Perry, has proven its longevity and relevance in modern building and the ten decades preceding – the lumber yard recently celebrated their 100th anniversary. “We’re not just a purveyor of goods. We get involved in the specific design elements of every project,” said Michael Cassidy, president and CEO. “Sit down and talk with us, and you’ll see that we’re interested in what you’re building and we can make it the most quality and cost-effective project it can be.” Cassidy credits their longtime success with the in-house teamwork of the employees and the loyal group of customers who continue to promote TW Perry by word of mouth. Thomas W. Perry first opened its doors in 1911 in Chevy Chase, Md., when the D.C. suburb was still a rural outpost in young America. The business began selling lumber,

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coal and oil; as D.C. spilled over into the surrounding areas in the 1950s, TW Perry grew to become the leading building material supplier it is today. “We have continually adapted to the evolving building industry and we offer a wide range of traditional and innovative products,” Cassidy said. In 1985, TW Perry opened its first home center in Gaithersburg, Md., focusing on homeowners and contractors. In the 1990s, TW Perry shifted its focus to contractors. Today, there are six locations in the Washington area, including a custom mill shop, a full range of power tools and building materials, and more than 250 in-stock molding profiles. “At this point, we are at the top of our game in terms of what we offer and the experience and talent of our employees,” Cassidy said. “Almost half of what we are selling has some sort of design element to it – turning what the customer wants

into a reality. We’ve had well-travelled customers who want their wine cellars to look like what they saw in France or Italy. We can make that happen.” TW Perry is one of the few building material dealers in the U.S. to boast dual certification. They are Green Certified, FSC certified and SFI Chain of Custody certified. “We strive to pass our knowledge, especially of green materials and practices, to our customers,” Cassidy said. “We can provide recycled lumber and lumber out of protected forests and cut it on site to keep waste low – all of that is just a part of our day-to-day practices.” TW Perry’s green options are what made the building material provider appealing for John Tabor of Tabor Design Build, who first began working with the company in 2008. But the two did not form a real partnership until they partnered on a charity which adapts homes for wounded veterans returning from war with missing limbs – an offshoot of the Yellow Ribbon Fund. Tabor asked Cassidy to lend a hand on his first project that built a wheelchair ramp and widened doors for a veteran who lost her legs fighting in Afghanistan. “You don’t really get to know a guy until you are swinging a hammer next to him, and John is a great guy,” Cassidy said. “My theory on charitable work is that donating money is great, but doing something related to our industry through sweat equity, is even more meaningful.” ELT


Sharp Minds, Bright Futures The young Texas firm Ignite Solar is causing a global sensation as the unique scope of their work paves the way for a new solar generation. by Joel Cornell

40 Summer 2011


fter a successful career in the manufacturing industry spanning several decades, Peter Mathey began to see firsthand how the renewable energy market was evolving and increasing its impact across all sectors. With a visionary mindset and a talented group of technicians and designers behind him, he decided it was time to start changing his own direction in tandem with that of the solar industry. “In early 2007, I was working with a solar company that wanted to build a solar panel manufacturing facility here in Texas,” Mathey said. “During the basic funding stages of the project, I was working mainly on the development side when I saw firsthand the opportunities available and the gap that existed in the energy market for a new company that incorporated better tracking systems into their development of new technologies.” Thus was the initial seed that grew into Ignite Solar. Founded shortly after his development efforts wrapped up in 2008, Mathey and Ignite Solar’s first steps were to develop a brand new tracking system that utilized a unique set of thin film solar modules. However, the state of the local, federal and global economies were less than ideal for any new startup company, particularly one seeking to break into the burgeoning solar energy market. “2008 was certainly not the best time for a new solar energy system manufacturing company,” Mathey said. “Originally, we founded the company with a heavy focus on being a tracking system manufacturer. But, due to the state of the economy and the markets, we ended up having to fight tooth and nail for our projects. But, we found ourselves ahead of the game by winning a large bid for the Pasadena School District, here in Texas. With that in hand, we wound up evolving our capabilities in order to include


a more involved development capacity that utilized the products we manufactured ourselves on our own developed projects.” Today, Ignite Solar works across the United States, with a growing interest developing internationally. Though the firm is young, the array of talented minds behind each project is as experienced as it is diverse. Ignite Solar’s focus has remained largely centered on clients in the large scale commercial and utility sectors. The traditional scope of Ignite Solar’s services extends from early design efforts, through the manufacturing stages and on into installation, implementation and maintenance. Normally, commercial entities and utility companies face a substantial capital expense up front. In their efforts to meet the specific needs of these clients, Ignite Solar utilizes their manufacturing, design and development capacities in order to bring all aspects of the project to fruition. These projects are mainly funded by the client, but the clients come to rely on Ignite Solar to present the project not on the client’s land, but Ignite Solar’s own developed lots. “With our large scale commercial customers, we find that a bit more involvement on the design side is required,” Mathey said. “A solar energy project can have a much bigger impact on the facility in which the client works, and so we end up working closely with them to come up with a system that is truly the best solution in their context. Most of the time that solution involves the panels, racking and systems that we design and manufacture ourselves. Sometimes, that’s not the case and we have no problem seeking out other manufacturers and other products that better suit the client’s specific site and needs.

OPPOSITE: Panels from left to right as shown; Moser Baer 210w Crystalline Modules, Solyndra 183w CIGS Modules, and UniSolar 144w Amorphous Silicon Modules. ABOVE: Subcontractor AETI installs crystalline modules for a custom solar awning. The visibility of the awning was key in promoting the solar project throughout the community.

Energy Leaders Today 41


ABOVE: Key team members at the project unveiling: Liz Price of HARC, Dr. Kirk Lewis of PISD, Peter Mathey of Ignite Solar, Richard Long of Broaddus Associates, and Alejandro Savransky of Environment Texas. Photos courtesy of Ignite Solar.

42 Summer 2011

“On the other hand, we have many utilities companies as clients, who don’t necessarily have a specific site necessarily in mind. With these clients, we present the systems we manufacture on land that we develop, or rooftops that we’re leasing, through our own internal design and installation process. This lets us make sure that we’ll have a very comfortable set up and lets our client know exactly how things are going to be. Sometimes the client will end up owning the site, sometimes they may just end up buying from us the energy that the site produces.” For the Pasadena School District, Ignite Solar designed, developed and built what is today the largest solar public school project in the state of Texas. The firm’s design includes four distinct panel technologies installed on six different buildings at two different schools in the district: Sam Rayburn High School and South Houston High School. The entire project included crystalline modules on different flat and metal seam roofs, a cylindrical system (the first in the Houston area) on a flat roof and self adhesive thin film and crystalline panel systems. These tie equally into individual inverters at each school, so that equal amounts of watts are routed into each inverter, allowing for comparison of multiple deployment methods. Additionally, Ignite Solar implemented a unique rooftop tracking solution, designed in house, that has garnered international attention. The ballasted system that sits on the roof is one single string of tracking modules. In the case of the Pasadena School District system, 14 crystalline modules are designed running in a row from North to South, as the panels track the sun from East to West. Ignite Solar’s design has demonstrated a 25 percent increase in total power generated, a simple but resounding solution. The end result of Ignite Solar’s endeavor is a 150 kW system with different installations featuring different technology in different systems installed in different ways. The sheer diversity of the project certainly wasn’t an issue for Ignite Solar, and further it allows the students to retrieve the raw data from the systems for integration into their school curriculum. “Basically, the systems satisfies the energy needs of the school district while serving as a sort of solar laboratory for the high school students,” Mathey said. “Visionary educators like project sponsor Grace Blasingame of PISD incorporate the system results as lessons for mathematics, the sciences and business. Math teachers work with the kids on calculations for what the total solar energy production of the system should be, based on radiance, cell technology, weather, etc. Then, that data is compared to the actual production of the systems. All around, it’s a great learning experience; especially as solar continues to grow into every facet of our lives.” ELT


Metin Altay, director of sales and marketing

SES 21


by Joel Cornell

ith a large focus on renewable energy sources at large, and solar in particular, Germany has remained a leader in the international market of photovoltaics. In an attempt to bring those leadership qualities to bear on the burgeoning and underdeveloped solar energy market in the U.S., the Germany-based solar energy company SES 21 has taken great strides in developing its first office in the United States since 2009. “I was born and raised in Germany and was able to see firsthand how its solar market developed,” said Metin Altay, director of sales and marketing. “Upon relocating to the U.S., I saw the state of the solar market and initially decided to venture into the automotive industry. Soon, however, it became quite apparent that the U.S. was truly yearning for a solar revolution like we experienced in Germany; it just didn’t have the power behind it. Our focus has been largely on doing whatever we can to serve as the power behind the next solar energy revolution.” As a leader in the German solar energy industry for over 13 years, SES 21 was well aware of what it took to succeed. However, they also knew the German market would be very different than the U.S. market. In 2009, SES 21 opened a branch in Dallas, Texas. Originally staffed by just two researchers, the firm sought to learn everything about the nuances of the American market. Throughout 2010 and 2011, the Dallas branch, known as SES 21 USA, has been developing their customer base and expanding the vision and scope of their German origins into America. As a leading wholesale distributor, SES 21 USA has been providing solar

companies of all shapes and sizes with the tools and equipment they need in order to succeed. From big firms doing big jobs to the exact opposite, SES 21 USA offers solar companies everything from modules and inverters to racking and balance of systems, from the industry’s most respected manufacturers. Additionally, SES 21 is uniquely able to satisfy the global demand for solar and photovoltaic systems via their own module manufacturing facility in Evora, Portugal. This global procurement power is reinforced through a constantly available supply of up to 60 MW in the firm’s fully-stocked warehouse. “Our first years in Dallas have been focused upon building a lasting presence in the United States,” Altay said. “Ignite Solar is one of those companies that, for us, represents long-term thinking, innovation and dedication. They’re located nearby in Houston, and we’ve maintained an excellent relationship from the beginning. We’ve been able to source materials for them in an expedient and cost-efficient manner, and in return they have been a fantastic customer that shares our passion for solar energy.” “Having seen the solar industry grow from its infancy to what it is now in Germany, I see the same revolution coming to the U.S. The solar movement is not going to stop growing. Largely due to the recent economic crisis, the only markets currently are in the commercial and industrial sectors. However, as investors - just like homeowners - are realizing that solar energy is a highly lucrative and safe investment, companies like Ignite will become more prevalent and the brightness that is the solar industry will soon shine its light all across America.” ELT Energy Leaders Today 43


ABOVE: Newark Central High School Photos courtesy of LB Electric

46 Summer 2011



hroughout the 1980s, the electrical and energy industries were entirely different beasts as opposed to how we define these industries today. Fortunately for his company, industry veteran Leon Baptiste has managed to remain on the cutting edge of both of these industries, and has brought his vast range of experience to bear on the ever changing landscape of the Northeastern United States’ electrical and energy industries. After a long and successful career with a large electrical engineering firm in Northern New Jersey, the scope Baptiste’s career finally came to a head in 1999. “It wasn’t that I wanted to change the things that I was doing,” Baptiste said, “it was that I wanted to change the manner in which they were being done. Once I founded LB Electric before the turn of the century, I pretty much stayed in the same line of work. Shortly after LB Electric hit the ground running, we decided to keep on expanding and we opened the doors to LB Energy, which is strictly an entity that’s now developing the scope of our focus on the energy side of our industry.” Today, LB Energy acts in a broad development capacity all across the Northeastern United States, from New York, New Jersey and Delaware to Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Mainly, the firm’s focus lies largely in the renewable energy sector with an emphasis on solar and photovoltaics. LB Electric, meanwhile, performs all of the design, implementation and installation measures involved in LB Energy’s projects. As a large scale electrical

engineering firm, LB Electric’s primary focus still remains on larger commercial projects, such as the new stadium currently under construction for the New York Giants. When Baptiste first struck out into the photovoltaics industry in 2004 through LB Energy, the first project the company took on was for Baptiste’s alma mater, the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, N.J. The project, which was completed in that same year, was the first of many projects on a long list, which today stands at a total of 8 mW in installations. “Our work with the New Jersey Institute of Technology started with an existing flat system which stood on the school’s roof at a zero degree tilt,” Baptiste said. “We selected the redesign, which was accomplished in house. The biggest alteration to the existing system was to relocate the inverters, which at the time were set on the outside of the building. Originally, the plans for the system were designed so that the inverters would be stored inside the building in a closeted area on the second floor. Our redesign first and foremost saw those original plans through in our revamp of the school’s system.” The system LB Electric implemented was a newly designed photovoltaic system, which was created, manufactured and installed all by Baptiste’s own companies. The project faced a unique challenge in the buildings nearby, which cast substantial amounts of shade of the east side of the school’s rooftop. So, as always, Baptiste did the smart thing and strung the arrays along perpendicular to the rooftop, so that only that string would go out before 10:00 in the morning, while

All For One, and One For All

Outside of his already successful electrical engineering and renewable energy endeavors, energy Renaissance man Leon Baptiste has spread his ambition into every conceivable facet of the industry, along with efforts to bring up a new and widespread solar generation. by Joel Cornell

Energy Leaders Today 47


ABOVE: New Meadowlands Stadium OPPOSITE: New Jersey Institute of Technology

48 Summer 2011

the rest of the array maintained regular generation. LB Electric installed four trackers for the system, which structurally had to be redesigned specifically for the site. Alongside these, the firm installed fifteen different inverters, the reason being that the school wanted to use the systems as a teaching tool for the electrical engineering students. Baptiste, who sits on the board of advisers for the electrical and computer engineering programs at the school, implemented a system that allowed the students to collect data and utilize it for research and development efforts. Further, Baptiste himself has spent many hours working with seniors at the school to aid them on their final projects, many of which utilize the very same system LB Electric installed for research purposes. Nearby, at the Central High School in Newark, N.J., LB Electric has just finished wrapping up a 500 kW system for New Jersey’s Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), the main financiers behind the project. “As always, our strength in this project was in our ability to manage literally every aspect of the project under one roof,” Baptiste said. “Our ability to design, install, custom build and bid independently is all based on the vast range of experience we maintain. At the Central High School project, we designed the roof mounted system and installed it as well. This project was the first to use Solstice inverters, which is a shading MPTP tracking solution, particular for projects

like this one that face a lot of shaded areas. “Outside of that, from a construction point of view, there were minimal challenges set for us to overcome. We managed installing the rigging systems onto the roof. Again, we had to implement some rather unique tracking measures developed in house, largely because all five inverters were also set on the actual roofing and we faced problems with the shading.” Outside of the already massive scope of LB Electric and LB Energy, Baptiste’s efforts also include LB Glass Enterprise. This firm provides unitized curtain walls, glass and glazing, and building integrated photovoltaic designs, along with the related installation services, for a wide range of clients. LB Glass Enterprise serves clients in the commercial, institutional, industrial, hospital and governmental sectors. Additionally, Baptiste has also developed a unique training center at his 20,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Cedar Grove, N.J., known as LB Training Center LLC. This endeavor serves to further Baptiste’s all-encompassing love of all things solar, as the firm trains up a new generation of solar electric installers. Elements of the program are also uniquely designed in order to attract local inner city youth, disabled veterans and individuals re-entering the work force, recruit them and give them the skills they need to become the next generation leading the charge in renewable sources of energy. ELT


Energy Leaders Today 49


50 Summer 2011


Energy Leaders Today 51


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With high annual growth and a backlog of work standing at a worth of about $22 million, one would think VendRick Construction, Inc. would be a massive corporate construction firm with countless bustling employees. On the contrary, the relatively small staff that VendRick Construction, Inc. began with in 1993 has remained the stable foundation of their success to this day. “Our real specialty lies in our ability to properly manage and utilize our short list of highly trained and experienced employees and subcontractors who we rely on like family to make sure that our clients budget, scheduling and aesthetic needs are met every step of the way,” said company president Frank Vendemia. Vendemia began in the industry after receiving his degree in civil engineering. In his senior year in college, he worked with Derrick “Rick” Dickson, who managed his own construction company. Right out of high school, Dickson entered into a local carpentry apprenticeship program. He worked with a local commercial contracting company for nearly two decades before starting his own business. It was this company that Vendemia worked for before he wanted to


start his own business as well. Vendemia and Dickson decided to partner up instead, and see how that suited them and their goals. Should any problems arise, they would go their separate ways. To this day, Vendemia and Dickson have been doing what they love and have kept their business and their passion going strong. “For the most part,” Vendemia said, “we tend to handle public works projects such as large multifamily complexes, school renovations and medical facilities. We don’t always take on the most attractive or visible projects; that’s not our aim. We want to work on projects that fit our forte. Whether we’re working on a public bid project for a school renovation or a design/ build project for an apartment complex, we’re able to provide the ultimate service to our clients by keeping our management teams small and project-oriented, while relying on a family of experienced employees and specialized subcontractors and specialists who are the absolute best at what they do.” Located in Brookfield, Ohio close to the Pennsylvania border, VendRick Construction, Inc. operates locally in a 60 mile radius. Despite

the fact that VendRick’s annual revenues have grown by millions of dollars every year, they focus on building projects locally. They can utilize their knowledge of the area, its nuances and its residents to give their clients the highest quality building program. “We do as much of the work ourselves as we can manage,” Vendemia said, “but once we’re outside our internal capacity to perform efficiently, we reach out to our roster of quality subcontractors to work with people we know and trust to get the job done right and on time.” VendRick Construction, Inc.’s philosophy promises the continued involvement of at least one company principal on each and every project, as well as the commitment to quality construction by the entire building group working as a single team. Both Rick and Frank attribute the company’s success to their faith, family, and friends. By focusing on building proper relationships and teams as much as they concentrate on the buildings themselves, VendRick Construction, Inc. is able to maintain a history of quality projects done on time, every time. ALT

Vendrick.indd 1 4/28/2011 7:43:37 PM

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