In 2017, brothers Alex and Clint Williams and Founding Partner Dave Madrid poured their skills and entrepreneurial drive into starting Solar Energy Partners, also known as SEP. After developing their business model around the philosophy that “more options means more deals, which means more savings,” the trio went to work partnering with many of the largest, highest-rated companies in the solar industry. From there, SEP began to take off.
This growth coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited social interactions and meant salespeople could no longer work on their original direct-to-home, door-to-door sales model. Additionally, tariffs implemented on solar panel imports made the challenge of staying operational even more monumental. However, Alex, Clint, and Dave stepped up to the challenge and approached it with innovation and proactivity, pivoting their operations and bringing their business to fruition during a time when many were struggling. During this period, SEP experienced such high growth that it provided employment opportunities for more than 1000 new representatives, including many struggling musicians, actors, and others in creative industries across Southern California.
The Global Millionaire magazine recently caught up with the Solar Energy Partners Founders to discuss their journey in starting and growing SEP, and here’s what went down.
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about your company and how your company started?
Our organizaton has evolved signiﬁcantly from when we originally launched to where we are today. We started with the same mission: to oﬀer the best customer and consultant experience in the solar industry; that hasn’t changed. The most endearing aspect of building a business is that, at some point, the business takes on a life of its own – today, our purpose is to spread that message and reinforce positive change in every community we touch.
Clint, Alex, and I founded the company after crossing paths in the solar ecosphere multiple times. Eventually, we were able to ﬁnd common ground, and it only made sense to work together. From the moment we were able to actually sit down and start discussing our perspectives on the current and future shape of the solar industry, I think we all looked at each other and said, “how have we not had this conversation sooner?”- I love the moment when something symbiotic just ‘clicks.’
From that moment, as previously mentioned, we’ve grown from that existential vision that we all shared into something capable of growing. At this point, I think we’re looking at things on more of a universal scale.
How does your company approach recruiting a new person?
We always approach recruiting with an open mind. We want to keep the doors open to those who want to pursue a new career path with their inherent talents and skills while providing the knowledge to pave the way for success in a new career. Of course, we’re interested in working with people that are self-starters, but what’s unique about the experience is that we oﬀer the scholarship opportunity to pursue the industry from start to ﬁnish; novice to master.
Most companies generally look for individuals with outright solar experience – we’ve always believed that everyone is born with the same potential; it’s just a matter of one having the right opportunity and mindset to foster success… that’s what we’re all about: fostering success.
What are some signiﬁcant events that have made your company the company what it is today?
There have been so many, but walking away from a high-level corporate position at a billion-dollar company to pursue my own business, realizing I could make a bigger diﬀerence on a smaller scale, is probably where it started. It really came to fruition when we noticed the business snowballing, not just in sales but also in the quality of people joining our ranks. I think that all comes down to the culture we’ve developed from the ground up. We genuinely wanted to change things; we had a mission to ﬁll the void in solar where so many customers were let down and consultants felt abandoned; we aimed to be the solution. Once we noticed that our dreams were starting to lean closer and closer to reality, we knew this was real.
Do you think the solar industry is mobilizing in this day and age?
That’s a great question. I believe it’s moving and becoming more eﬃcient. Still, the truth is it’s still the wild wild west in the solar industry – with all of the growth; it feels like the industry has to capitulate at some point to remain healthy. I think that it will be the entities that provide the best, most authentic service that will inevitably stand the test of time.
How is your company adapting to the Coronavirus in its daily operating model? What has it been like for your employees?
COVID was inevitably a game-changer for any business. We had to pivot to stay aﬂoat, and ultimately we found that it served us well. We were able to utilize our knowledge from door-knocking in the past and translating that information over to a more virtual model, which we’re still using today. Even as COVID becomes more endemic, we’ve noticed that the business has forever changed – we’re now perpetually thinking outside the box.
How do you balance the need to respond to a crisis like COVID-19 rapidly while at the same time keeping a long-term, resilient course?
With an anomalous situation that rocks the world as COVID-19 did, the only option was to stagnate or progress. Given that the renewable industry is a constantly revolving door in terms of information, litigation, adoption, etc., it seems like we’re generally used to swimming upstream in one way or another. When the pandemic became tangible, we did what we do best: evolve.
How has your company gone about the arduous task of engineering a change in company mindset?
Personal and professional development are two things we’re perpetually ﬁxated on; we’re constantly engineering change in mindset across our business. We want to unlock our consultant’s innate potential so they can make legitimate changes in their lives and the lives of others. When someone is brought into the fold working here, they have the opportunity to grow without fear of a ceiling progressively. One of the critical factors of succeeding in entrepreneurship is the never-ending belief in yourself- sometimes that ﬁre requires a little tinder, though. Through our scholarship, we provide constant motivation and dedication, which we’ve found has fortiﬁed our purpose as an organization: to make a positive diﬀerence.
What are your company’s main priorities, hopes, and aspirations looking ahead?
We’ve always had big dreams. We’re looking forward to further expansion on a national scale as well as fostering new and exciting partnerships in the next year. Ultimately, everything we do is in the best interest of the people we work with, as well as the people we work for.
We’re looking forward to 10,000 installs per year in our future and taking our organization international. As far as the immediate future, stay posted for all of the news and updates via our Instagram @solarenergypartners.
Where do you see the most growth opportunities in the solar industry right now?
Another great question… all I can say is that the company that gets creative with ﬁnancing as more liquidity enters the renewable market in the United States will make serious waves.
What advice would you give to those hoping to follow in your company’s footsteps?
Work hard, play harder, and never lose track of your dreams.