MyStartUpStory - Aaron Anderson, A2 Solar Design and Engineering
February 13, 2015
In this MyStartUpStory, Aaron Anderson explains how starting a small business begins with opportunity, and passion! I originally trained to become a CISCO Network Administrator, but decided at the young age of 18 to pursue my original passion of becoming an Architect. After working for a year in Construction, I moved over and became an apprentice electrician in 2005. The electrical company I worked for ended up winning a bid for a commercial building project that year for a local Electrical Engineering Firm. At the end of the project, the owners of the company were so impressed by our work that they offered all of us jobs. So, by the beginning of 2006, I found myself working under a team of 10 engineers as an Electrical Technician and Draftsmen. . . just about one parallel step from architecture after just two years of in-field experience. Things were looking up. I learned a great deal from my new employer. I grew to love electrical theory and engineering concepts and I was amazed at how far I had come in so short a time... then December of 2007 hit us like an unforeseen storm. The recession meant many jobs lost, and I was laid off with about 10 others after 6 months. In June of 2008 I found myself unemployed and depressed. I had grown accustomed to my line of work, but suddenly found myself running out of places to apply to. After about 3 months of contemplating teaching, relocating and the sort, I found something that interested me. I had always been interested in how Solar electrical projects worked, and thought to myself that renewable energy would probably be one of the few types of construction that would continue to grow in a recession. So, I picked up a newspaper, and applied for a laborer position with a solar company in Sacramento California. I'll never forget that interview. I showed up in a 3-piece suit and a 3 page resume. After about 5 minutes of speaking to my soon to be manager told me "Well no one who works construction shows up to a job interview in a suit, I don't think you'll last a week, but you can try to prove me wrong." And prove him wrong I did. I started officially installing solar electrical projects July 4th of that year and led 2 crews for 6 days a week installing residential a commercial projects ranging from 5kW to 20kW. It was after about year that I had my moment of inspiration; or you could call it my "Flash of Genius." After helping my manager finalize plans for a solar panel design he couldn’t figure out, it dawned on me that I could help him be much more efficient by taking over the designing task for the projects that were being installed. I begged him for 3 months, to no avail. He liked me to be in the field. He knew he could trust me and wanted me to stay onsite and continue managing the crews. After 3 months I told him I wanted to do more than simply install, and gave him one last chance to consider my proposal. He disappointingly told me that all engineering was going to be done by another employee in L.A. So my concept was born. I began applying at Engineering firms again. It was the beginning of 2010 when I landed a job as a Solar Designer. I again was back in the designers chair working on giant commercial projects. It was very reminiscent of my previous engineering work, only it now pertained solely to solar! From there I was offered a job to design for a Solar Racking manufacturer where I learned a lot about UL certifications and the solar industry as a whole. From there I was offered yet another job as the lead solar designer for a nationally recognized distributor where I implemented my business model as a value added service and immediately began increasing sales and return customers. After gaining a significant amount of experience in the industry, I officially bought the Business License in Sacramento California for "A2 Solar Design & Engineering Services" in September of 2012. The same year my first son was born. We managed to land about 25 contractors our first year of business. We've seen a continually growth of 200% for each proceeding year. We managed to relocate HQ to Oahu, Hawaii this past Q4 of 2014, and continue to make a grand impact on the solar feasibility and marketing capabilities of Home Owners, Solar Contractors and Distributors. The rest is history. We have clients around the world now, from the East Coast to the West of the USA, and now projects in South America, Europe and Africa.