In each episode, The Lookback team asks a solar contractor to “look back” at how they used to face certain challenges and what they do now. Features stories, tips, and lessons, from contractors across the solar industry. Hosted by Solar r.e.view editor Tom Miller and industry consultant Pam Cargill.

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Quotes from the Pod

Net Zero’s Chad Waits on…

Launching his company:

“I knew we were going to be successful. You just can’t substitute passion.”

“I wanted people to recognize me, my company, and the people that make up my company as real leaders…in our willingness to share knowledge.”

On hiring:

“I’ve never bought in to that philosophy that I can hire more people to meet a bubble and then cut them loose when the bubble pops.”

“My uncle told me a long time ago…’Make sure you hire people that are smarter than you.’ I’ve done a pretty good job surrounding myself with teammates that are great people. They are sharp people, critical thinkers. Their input is very valuable.”

“You’re not getting on our staff if this is just a job for you. I need people to say, ‘I want to make a difference in my community.”’

“I want you to be fresh, day after day. I want everyone here to be able to spend time with their family.”

On planning, resources, and passion:

“I plan one year in advance, that’s as far as I look. It’s worked for us.”

“I make sure that I utilize all the resources I have in my network of friends and colleagues- and obviously that includes my vendors- to keep my viewport as to what’s going to happen down the road.”

“Keep your eyes and ears open… Stay true to your passion. Stay true to your values.”

The Suniva 201 trade case and how Chad sees it today:

“It’s just one more thing we’re going to overcome… I’ll just take it as it comes. Everybody else is going to have to deal with the same issue. So it’s a level playing ground… We’ve got other strategies that we’ve been able to pick upon terms of creating cash flow and revenue that will help ride us through whatever lull is set to come.”

Working with the utility, then and now:

“It was very much an open dialog between the utility and installers which helped us be prepared for changing incentives matrices.”

“There’s a firewall now between us and the utility… It’s actually turned really sour… We can’t get to low cost solar and storage fast enough.”

A Final Editor’s Note: Just wanted to throw in this completely unsolicited testimonial for BayWa r.e. from Chad 😉 

“I’ve always relied upon my biggest vendor, which is BayWa r.e. There’re the one I spent the most amount of money with and I buy the highest priced pieces from. They have always been great—whether it’s Eric, Genevieve, or Gilbert—about keeping us informed about what to buy, when to buy, what the pricing is going to be. ‘Hold off on that. Don’t stock up too much on that.’ That portion has always been taken care of for us. It’s made it easiest for us to plan and ride out whatever lull may occur from some policy change.”