I started going to the Energy Fair twenty years ago. My educational background was in wind and solar technology. My Colorado State University engineering curriculum in the ‘80s included classes on their state-of-the-art solar research campus. Therefore, with those credentials on my transcript, I had more than a tacit interest in the Energy Fair goings on. During my first few times there, I felt like an outsider. I had not yet adopted a solar lifestyle personally, nor had I put renewable energy knowledge to work in my profession. Along in the mid 2000s, I was struggling with how to make the leap into the renewable energy industry both personally and professionally. Talking about renewable energy and sustainability wasn’t enough for me. I needed to be a part of it.
When some personal issues forced me to reevaluate some of my life directions in 2006, I made the decision to embrace renewable energy as my personal and Energy Concepts mission. With this newfound “spring in my step,” I attended the Energy Fair that year. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I was like a sponge soaking up every detail having to do with the nuts, bolts, wires, towers, etc to learn everything about how to actually design and install the systems. I talked to every person who would give me a minute especially those in policy and those already well known in the industry. I sought out their booths and presentations, boldly shook hands, and let them know who I was and what I and Energy Concepts were out to accomplish. If a company had a business card, I took it. My fair experience that year was solely about what I needed to know to start “doing it.” It was then with my newly gathered knowledge, that I started to build my business mission.
I again attended the fair in 2007 and 2008 with further refinements and embellishments to the quest. I was gaining experience on design and installation matters that facilitated a deeper level of inquiry with the many industry experts on hand at the fair. Peeling the layers of the onion was the metaphor. I saw the need for a leveling up of the commercial solar hot water presentations and so offered one up. I presented to a standing room only crowd under the purple flag tent. I felt very proud those two years to wear a presenter’s badge. I had “arrived” to the inner circle.
Somewhere in this time frame, I installed a solar hot water system and a solar electric system on my own home. I got the experience of living firsthand with renewable energy systems and learning from the technology. I will be blogging about being a solar home separately – stay tuned.
Then, at the 2009 Energy Fair, I was recognized by Focus on Energy with their Market Provider of the Year Award. Read the press release and watch the video here. I began to feel that all my hard work had started to pay off. It was with a bittersweet mixture of humility and pride that I accepted the award – center stage – under the big tent. My state of Wisconsin colleagues had recognized that something unique and noteworthy was happening here at our Hudson business. The renewable energy industry was in need of the engineering first and licensed trades work model that Energy Concepts adopted.
This year’s 2010 Energy Fair proved to be completely different experience than the others. My time at the fair wasn’t dedicated to learning about new products or stuffing my pockets with brochures and business cards. No longer was I an outsider. I networked and socialized with colleagues. I didn’t need to search for new products because I knew Energy Concepts already had the best mix possible for our client needs. It was reassuring to know that Energy Concepts as a SunPower Premiere Dealer could offer the crème de la crop. I walked through the Energy Fair ground’s with pride in my company and how far I had come. In four short years, I had gone from the kid in the candy store to one the state’s mover-and-shakers in our burgeoning industry.
Since I first started visiting MREA’s Energy Fair, I have grown as individual by adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. In addition, my company, Energy Concepts, has grown and transformed along with me. I now recount that I have achieved right livelihood – passion and profession are one and the same. It is with pride that I know that Energy Concepts is at the forefront of renewable energy in Wisconsin and Minnesota and expanding to encompass the Midwest.
I trust that Energy Concepts and myself will continue on this journey as leaders in the field of renewable energy.