Solar Builder

MAR-APR 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 43 How J&B Solar and Electric built its Florida-based solar business By Kayla Breja F or many opportunistic entrepreneurs, the solar indus- try is an enticing place to start a business. There is a demand for sales teams and installers to help expand the reach of solar. However, too often, those individu- als do not have solid business plans and burn out quickly, doing more harm than good for the industry. The success story of how Josh Bessette, owner of J&B Solar and Electric in Cocoa, Fla., created and grew his solar integration company is different. As a second-generation solar contractor, Bessette grew up in the industry and understands the finer details of the business, and when he saw the opportunity to create and build a business, he took it. "I guess you could say solar is in my blood," Bessette joked. "The family business was established in 1974 and primarily performed resi- dential and small commercial work. At the time, there wasn't the opportunity to chase utilities or large-scale commercial projects in the Southeast; the demand just wasn't there." After college, Bessette got his contractor's license and continued to work for his family's business until his father sold it. Soon after, he moved into a sales role for an organization that provides solar panels, racking and modules to residential, commercial and utility-scale con- tractors, as well as developers. Seeing opportunity During his time as a solar contractor, Bessette spent a lot of time studying the large utility-scale solar projects occurring in California, Arizona and Nevada. "It always intrigued me; I wanted to be a part of that side of the industry," he said. "So, when solar demand evolved in this part of the country, I knew it was my time to make a move." In October 2013, Bessette started building J&B Solar and Electric. "Working with contractors, I saw there was a need for quality integra- tors," Bessette said. "I already knew a lot of the companies in the area and had the experience that would set us apart from other startups. I knew it would take a lot of hard work, but I knew with the right help, I could build a business that would stand out." Getting established Building a business in the solar industry takes financial resources, patience and the commitment to do it right. "The solar industry moves quickly these days," Bessette explained. "There are a lot of product innovations that claim to install faster or better than the competition. And to be honest, a person really must spend time evaluating everything and not just take a salesperson's word for it. It's those types of decisions that cause so many young organiza- tions to put themselves out of the business before they really even start." J&B Solar and Electric spent time researching the equipment they needed to be successful and took on a lot of projects that were demand- ing with short timelines. "It's that mindset that I think helped us gain vital experience," Bessette added. Since J&B Solar and Electric didn't focus on just one type of system, they were exposed to a lot of different solar solutions and environ- ments. Through those experiences in the early years, they understood what equipment and products performed better than others.

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