Led by CEO Caleb Arthur, Sun Solar installs over 2,500 solar panels per month, such as this array at Farmers Park.
SBJ photo by WES HAMILTON
2017 Dynamic Dozen No. 1: Sun Solar LLC
SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth? Caleb Arthur: We’ve been able to set a vision for Sun Solar and recruit and empower our employees to follow that vision along. Our other main key to growth has been hiring and training veterans who work in all aspects of Sun Solar, from sales to installations. The solar industry is newer to the area. There’s not a lot of people who are trained in solar. Military people have all of the key components to be able to be cross-trained into solar. Solar companies nationally have some of the highest percentage rates of veterans in the workforce compared with other construction industries. Military veterans like a challenge when they come to work, because that’s what they’re used to. We have between 20 and 25 veterans that are at the company.
The less fossil fuels that we have to consume as a nation, the safer our nation is going to be. Renewables are really good at creating what I would call a decentralized grid, to where if terrorist attacks do happen, they don’t have to just take one big coal plant offline. They have to take thousands of small homes offline, which would be very difficult.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth? Arthur: Keeping my team and myself focused on the goals at hand and just not dreaming too much. Dreaming is very much needed, but [so is] staying in the present. It’s easy for a small startup company to hit it big and then forget what they did that made them so special – they stop doing the small things for employees and customers.
SBJ: What has the company’s growth enabled you to do? Arthur: Our growth has enabled me to start creating relationships with banks that in return are offering better financing options for our customers. I’ve also been able to leverage buying equipment – solar panels and inverters – at a more competitive rate than others in our industry. We install over 2,500 solar panels per month. Going through a couple semitruck loads of panels every week is no issue. Company growth has enabled me to start doing company-paid employee health insurance, employee retirement and paid vacation time. I’ve always dreamed about giving back to all of my employees.
SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable? Arthur: Time will tell, right? My gut instinct is that Sun Solar can grow even faster. Our entire business model is sustainable in nature from the ground up – from the natural handmade soaps we use in our bathrooms to the vehicles that we’ve started driving. Our vision is to help every single Missourian who wants to go solar be able to. Our revenue growth is in response to our vision. If you grow locally and naturally spread out, then you’re going to be a lot safer.
SBJ: What is the worst business advice you’ve received? Arthur: There’s a lot of pitfalls a business owner can easily step into.
The one thing a lot of other business owners have told me was not to get too political as a business owner. Solar shouldn’t just be a one-party issue. If you run a business, you always need to be engaged. You need to be making sure, politically, that your voice is heard in Jefferson City.
If you’re not fighting for your industry, who else is going to fight for your industry?
All workplace problems have root causes. When will training be the solution? Sherry Coker, OTC Center for Workforce Development business development director, provides you the framework of a training needs assessment, which will uncover the root causes of a workplace problem and help you determine if training is the solution. A download is available at workforce.otc.edu/bootcamp with a complete outline for an effective training needs assessment.
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