Sun Solar LLC founder and CEO Caleb Arthur is on a mission to not only light up Springfield with green energy but also to make it accessible for everyone – including through charitable donations to individuals and nonprofits.
Founded in 2012 in Houston, Missouri, Sun Solar had just four employees. It has since grown to markets in Springfield, Columbia, Kansas City and Joplin. It now employs 125 people – 17 percent of whom are military veterans.
The company in 2018 will soon employ 30 additional employees and is making a move to a new headquarters in Springfield.
Arthur says Sun Solar’s growth corresponds to the increasing accessibility of solar power to the everyday buyer. Six years ago when he first got into business, a solar system for a typical home was bid at about $45,000. Today, it costs approximately $20,000.
“I think it completely has to do with the adaptability of the technology to everyday customers,” Arthur says. “It’s literally turned into a process that’s just as easy as buying a car.”
Additionally, Sun Solar partners with national banks to offer loans for solar energy systems. A year ago, the company also created the Sun Solar Smart Plan in which banks back an equipment lease.
“Now, people can look at doing a loan or a lease and can have the payment,” Arthur says. “Ninety percent of the time, the payment to go solar is less than their utility bill. They can offset their utility bill and save money.”
According to its website, Sun Solar has saved customers $7.3 million through the 63,994 solar panels it has installed. The site estimates it’s the equivalent of planting over 1.17 million trees.
Sun Solar had to apply this same frugal strategizing to save itself money when President Donald Trump announced solar tariffs in 2017. Arthur said he did not anticipate the tariffs to be placed against Canada, where some of the company’s equipment suppliers are located. Upon receiving the news, he said the team immediately met to form a plan. It ended up receding overhead cost by developing their own in-house software and creating more competitive financing options with local banks to reduce loan fees.
They were anticipating a 70 percent increase on product cost. However, that increase ended up being only 30 percent.
“We were able to go back and renegotiate prices on panels, so we lowered the price to customers,” Arthur says. “That was a pleasant surprise that we were not only going to survive it but thrive in it.”
Sun Solar also is dedicated to helping local nonprofits through donations – such as its recent partnership with Eden Village. The approximately $40,000-valued donation will power the 31-unit housing project. Similarly, Sun Solar has donated to individuals in the community, such as a local veteran who received a solar system valued at $20,000.
Giving back to the community, Arthur says, should be part of any business’ mission.
“Every day the sun comes up, I get to donate money to them,” he says.
Going up at Missouri State University’s 125-acre William H. Darr Agricultural Center on Kansas Expressway is the Small Animal Education Center.