Solar Industry Sell Side Consulting
I am proud to formally announce an initiative I have been working on for the past year: Solar industry sell side consulting. Our firm’s unique buy side history provides solar industry manufacturers, SAAS providers, financial institutions, and other sell side players with a desire to accelerate growth or enter new markets access to a large rolodex of EPC firms and developers across the country.
For those readers who are unaware of our firm’s history, I started out eight years ago working with affluent Los Angeles homeowners helping them transition to solar energy. In my first year I worked for a general contractor and learned the construction and financing aspects of residential solar. In year two I joined a regional Southern California residential installer. Both firms were using the standard home improvement model of cold calling and door knocking to acquire new customers. I did not agree with that model and started Beach Cities Solar Consulting in 2017, with a focus on education, seminars, and referrals from centers of influence like roofers, architects, and general contractors. This was a model I was familiar with and had used to build a financial advisory practice over the previous twelve years in New York City and Beverly Hills, CA. During our first year we worked primarily with one California residential contractor, who has since grown to expand to several other markets, but I quickly realized that we would have to expand our provider offerings if we were to enter into the commercial solar space. In 2017 we completed our first commercial project for a small office and warehouse in El Segundo, CA. Learning the ins and outs of the commercial side of the business was both fun and eye opening for me. As our customer base grew organically, so did the need for new contractors. In California at the time, there were very few solar installers that covered the entire state, so it was up to me to establish new partnerships with qualified EPCs from San Diego to San Francisco! During this time, I also took the initiative to establish relationships with EPCs in the Northeast (I grew up in New Hampshire and am writing this post from our family home on Newfound Lake), New York Metro Area, and Southeast, as I knew people in all of those areas that we could source projects from. As we rode the “solar coaster” up and down California, I started to secure more and more commercial projects, growing our company from a couple hundred thousand dollars in sales in 2017 to over one million in 2018, with sales projections of 3.5 million for 2019! This growth coincided with a personal trip to visit a longtime friend of mine in Puerto Rico, who had re-located his wealth management business from New York City to take advantage of some generous tax incentives the island was offering. I fell in love with the island, the people, and the lifestyle, and immediately knew I would soon follow suit (I had been working remotely since 2009, when I left Merrill Lynch in Beverly Hills, and inherently knew the marketing and sales side of the solar industry could be facilitated remotely). Unfortunately, the universe had other plans in mind as Hurricane Maria hammered Puerto Rico in September of 2017, delaying my move by a year but providing opportunities for me to serve the island and its people through humanitarian efforts. My Rotary club in Manhattan Beach, CA raised $25,000 and purchased clean water filtration systems for distribution throughout the island. We subsequently helped with re-building important facilities including the San Juan YWCA, and in subsequent years funded and participated in other charitable projects in Culebra and more remote areas, with a focus on promoting sustainability. (These humanitarian efforts would later lead to personal relationships with influential individuals both on and off the island, opening more doors for more projects in Puerto Rico). So, after a year of recovery post Hurricane Maria, my time came to go back to the island and see if I could make a go of establishing a business there. In November of 2018, I formally incorporated Beach Cities Solar Consulting LLC in San Juan, PR. During this two-week beta test visit, I met with several EPCs to establish sales partnerships, as I knew there was a dire need to help the island transition to solar and storage (I am happy to say that although that need still exists, the solar market is now booming in Puerto Rico). After the holidays, 2019 started and we were now operating in two markets, California and Puerto Rico. My plan during this time was to split my time between these two markets, which I did for the first nine months of the year. California was booming, we were now developing corporate projects for large companies, including some in the Fortune 500. I built out a small residential sales team and focused on the C/I business. More EPC relationships were formed, through referrals, and out of specialized needs for the projects we were consulting on. In October of 2019 I decided to move full time to PR, and shortly after COVID-19 hit. This was a devastating time for our C/I business, but it brought a surge in residential installations as everyone was staying at home and generating large electricity bills. I humbled myself and got back into the residential business out of necessity. Then in the Summer of 2020, I received a call from the V.P. of Commercial Development at Skechers, Inc. This was an account I had been introduced to three years earlier, but they had yet to move on retrofitting their existing facilities with solar panels. Tim explained to me that the company was building a new corporate campus, and rooftop solar was part of the building plans for the three new facilities to be built over the coming years. Again, I reached out to my network, specifically looking for an EPC that had substantial corporate installation experience. I provided two bids to Skechers, both from commercial only EPCs in Southern California, and Skechers opted to award the projects to the EPC I pitched with 13 years of commercial installation experience, for large companies including Whole Foods, Southern California Gas, and others. BCSC LLC was now officially operating in the corporate market, with our first Fortune 500 client! While this was a huge win for our organization, the rest of the C/I market was still on life support. 2020 and 2021 were years where large corporations were cutting expenses, and new offices campuses were not being built due to the new trend of remote work. We needed new EPC partners in the booming residential market, and unfortunately had to take a trial-and-error approach during this time, as the residential partners we had in the past were not able to sufficiently scale and service the number of projects that were being brought to them, through their own channels, as well as dealers like us. It was an exhausting time for me, micromanaging residential EPCs, constantly following up with their operations teams, as projects were getting dragged out due to errors and omissions in the workflow. This seemed to be pervasive in the industry, regardless of the market you were operating in. In the Summer of 2021, I decided to try out the West Coast of the island, as San Juan was now full of wealthy ex pats who had re-located during the pandemic, and I was not living in alignment with the reasons I had initially decided to move to Puerto Rico for. Not long after moving to Rincon, the surf capital of the Caribbean, I met a neighbor whose family owned large retirement homes in Northwest Florida. Again, I reached out to my network, gaining access to a new market and another half dozen EPCs in Atlanta and Florida to bid on the projects. Unfortunately, we have yet to close on these projects (the asset owner is waiting on another hurricane and the insurance money to pay for a new roof), but it did open up doors for me with these contractors, (as well as another new market that I thoroughly enjoy visiting, the U.S. Virgin Islands). Supply chain issues continued to dominate the market in 2022, delaying many of our projects, but I am pleased to report that we have managed to navigate these choppy waters successfully, in no small part due to the geographic diversification of our projects and revenue streams! In Spring of 2023, we completed our second project for Skechers, and were able to leverage NEM 2.0 in California, locking in contracts and revenue for the foreseeable future, regardless of the overall economic situation in our country.
With 2023 looking to be a banner year for our firm, I am finally able to take a 30,000-foot view of our business again and launch this sell side consulting business that has been on my mind for the past year. We are taking a pragmatic approach, and only offering products from companies we have worked with in the past, with a verified customer satisfaction track record. We look forward to bridging the gap between high quality manufacturers, SAAS providers, financiers, distributors, and other niche players looking to accelerate their sales cycles and broaden their distribution channels without the capex of a large sales team in multiple geographic markets to do so!
Access New Markets!
BCSC LLC offers solar industry sell side consulting services to manufacturers, SAAS companies, distributors, and other industry players looking to gain access to a nationwide network of EPC firms and developers. If your company’s goal is to increase market share faster or enter new geographic markets, we can help! Get started with a free discovery call today by reaching out through the CONTACT US button below!