Seminole County, Florida
Solcium Solar is a renewable energy company that is innovating the industry through an educational approach, empowering clients to make the right decision based off their needs.
Other Services (except Public Administration)
96% projected increase
from 2021 – 2022
583% projected increase
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What led you to Solcium Solar?
I started my career in high education and was there for over a decade. In January 2018, I shifted my career to solar where I was working with Tesla and Sunrun, and the rest is history. During my time there, I was able to really see on the front line how solar works and look behind the curtain and see how it operates at big companies. I realized quickly that bigger isn’t always better, and I wanted to try and create something on my own. I wanted to lean in with a customer focus, glean the good and leave the bad behind.
Did you always want to start your own company?
I stumbled into it. I was short-sighted and not always thinking that big, but as I look back, I think curiosity was always something that was a constant. I’d lean into every new opportunity and see it as a chance to meet someone or experience something I hadn’t before.
Tell us about the company and the value you bring your employees.
Our company name, Solcium, is derived from the word socius, which is partner or ally in Latin, and we added the ‘L’ because we’re working in solar. Solcium is all about partnerships and truly valuing the individual. This starts with putting our people first, and we believe that if you do that, the rest takes care of itself. When we put our team first, our customers are taken care of, and our product is taken care of. Our team members are happy and excited to be here and that makes a huge difference, philosophically. We’re also unique from an industry standpoint. We are a company that markets, sells, and installs solar. We offer full beginning-to-end service which is unfortunately rare in this industry.
How do you differentiate yourselves from others in your industry?
What sets us apart is that we understand the importance of partnerships. A lot of our competitors work in silos. They don’t really reach out in their community, for example. I think in the industry it’s assumed that if it’s solar, it must be good for the environment. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad sales practices out there that have been giving solar a bad name. It’s our mission to be the good guys in solar and set a new bar through education. We want to be a trusted resource in solar that will be beneficial to you. We’ll tell you whether or not it’s a good fit and exactly what you can expect with a warranty to back that up. Investing in community partnerships with community leaders helps us to get the word out that we are a trusted resource. I think that’s what makes us different.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?
The most notable one was at a company I started previous to this after I had let Sunrun. I was at that company for two years and we became very successful, very quickly. As quickly as we became successful, true colors started to come out in my business partner – we didn’t see eye to eye on how to treat people. Because of that, I parted ways there and started Solcium with Gustavo. He and I are aligned and see this as a service. Starting anew after everything had already been built and was successful, was the first challenge. However, I couldn’t continue without people being the focus of what we’re doing. Then, right when we started Solcium, we had to navigate a myriad of obstacles, one being policy. A concept called net metering is what makes solar work in Florida and was threatened in January of 2022. I went and spoke against it to fight for our industry and the Governor ended up vetoing it, but if that law would have passed, we wouldn’t be in business. That was a scary and difficult challenge to navigate. To stay in business, we have had to pick up and operate in a different state which would have completely changed the trajectory of our business. Another obstacle is overcoming the industry’s reputation. I think it’s fair that people are very hesitant to pursue solar because of its reputation. We’re working to combat that by proving and living up to the standard that we are the good guys.
We know there’s no handbook for how to start your own company. Where did you turn when faced with challenges?
The tactical ammo for me was to have sounding boards to navigate conversations or talk through challenging situations. It’s helpful to have mentors and resources who can speak to the business side, but it’s just as important to have people surrounding you who are simply passionate about what you’re doing and have a depth of vision. I think the challenges you face are very hard to persist through if you don’t have that. I’m grateful that I had that in my co-founder, Gustavo. Taking us back to if that bill had passed, we went to our families and said, “Look, if this goes through, we’ll have to move to another state.” From both my family and his, it was a resounding “We’ll do whatever it takes.” Our mentors who have acted as sounding boards and the support from our family and friends have absolutely carried us.
How do you hope to see your company continue to grow?
I think a lot of companies in our industry want to grow for the sake of growing. We want to grow because we believe that the more customers we work with, means more customers are being taking care. The more customers that are taken care of, means that we’re proactively changing the reputation of the industry. We want to be the largest private provider of privately held company solar in the country. That is our goal. We hope to see that in the next few years in multiple markets in Florida and across the nation. We want to grow cautiously, carefully, and not too quickly just for the sake of growth. As we grow, it’s crucial that we keep what’s made us so successful intact – our culture. if it means denying growth to keep that, so be it. We’ll do whatever it takes.
Tell us more about your company culture.
Our culture is very important to us. It’s things like making sure we align our business with the individual goals of our team. During our interviews we’ll ask, “What do you want to do?” and “Where do you want to be in three to five years?” Even if it’s not with Solicum. If they’re using us as a stepping stone, that’s great – now can we help you open that restaurant? Or retire your family in 10 years if that’s your goal? Our approach is to really dig into what matters to each individual, help them accomplish their personal goals, and align it with their
business goals makes us unique. This allows us to encourage the team to be the changemakers that we want to be in our communities and the industry. If you’re accomplishing what you want to personally, then you have what it takes to give back to your team if you’re a leader and to your customers, if you’re an individual contributor. That piece of service to each other is intertwined in everything we do.
Is it difficult for you to find talent?
We’re facing many of the same issues around talent that other industries are right now. We’ve started to build an apprenticeship program across all our departments to encourage people who haven’t worked in solar before, to explore the opportunities here. For instance, if you have a sales background, we can teach you how to sell solar. Do you want to be an installer, but you have no experience? You have roofing experience and you’re not afraid of heights, so we’ll train you to be an installer. Finding the right people, and the amount of people we need for the work we have has been a challenge.
Do you have a proudest moment so far?
The resounding theme that’s made me proudest is that there isn’t a singular moment. The milestones we reach continue to prove that putting people first wins every time. We love this team, truly, and we value our partnerships in the industry. Putting that over the bottom line is the winning combination.
What does it mean to be selected as an Honoree this year?
It’s tremendously valuable to us. It’s a huge validation from an exceptional entity of all the hard work that this team has put in. For us, it means a great deal to the team. It’s so easy to be working hard in your silo with your head down. For our team members to be able to come up for air and see what this award means has already had a significant impact on our team at this stage. It’s been tremendously uplifting.
Is there anyone special you’d like to thank?
This is most definitely a big opportunity for us to thank our spouses; my wife, Leah, and Gustavo’s wife, Rebecca. Then we have a nucleus of folks who came with us from our old company, the Gritters, and our extended families and friends. We are really blessed beyond measure to have the people we have in our lives.
Depth of vision is important. You need to have something that you’re driving toward. Looking back, curiosity is what got me here but the rhetoric of ‘find your passion’ was almost haunting. Curiosity is key.