Written by The Business Journal Staff
The sunny Central Valley is a hotbed for the solar industry. As many solar companies emerge and flourish in the region, CalCom Solar, a commercial solar power company established in 2012, has set itself apart earning the third spot on Inc. Magazine’s annual Inc. 5000 list for the fastest growing companies in the nation.
CalCom co-founder Glenn Bland attributes the company’s success to good timing and a good team. In discussing the former, Bland said CalCom found its niche with the agricultural industry just as farmers saw another spike in utility prices, which account for around 18 percent of their budgets pre-solar installation. Adding acres of solar panels has saved many ag companies thousands of dollars, as utilities are reduced down to 7 or 8 percent of the budget.
As more ag businesses look to solar for energy savings, CalCom has seen a steady increase in projects, installing 150 acres of solar panels, equal to 35 megawatts, since 2012.
“Almost all of our jobs are 1.2 megawatts in size and that is right around 3,000 panels,” Bland said. “On a fixed system where the panels don’t turn at all, that is four acres of panels, and when they need greater distance between rows, it is six acres of panels.”
While CalCom leads the commercial solar industry, its sister company, Bland Solar and Air, is making strides in the residential market.
Founded in 1985, the Bakersfield-based company was one of the first to offer smart energy solutions to Valley consumers. Now, Bland Solar and Air has operations in Bakersfield, Fresno and Templeton and showrooms in Bakersfield, Templeton and Clovis.
The showroom in Clovis was established last October, but Bland Solar and Air recently moved it to a larger suite in the Willow Station Shopping Center on the southeast corner of Willow and Nees.
The showroom is unique, Bland said, because it gives potential customers a place to come ask questions, rather than be bombarded by telemarketing calls and door-to-door solar salesmen.
“I like to use the analogy of purchasing a vehicle. You don’t want someone knocking on your door or calling to sell you a new vehicle and you don’t want someone doing that trying to sell you an expensive solar system either. We wanted to create an environment much like a car dealership showroom where you can go in on your time, your terms and have all your questions answered to make a sound decision without the pressure,” Bland said.
The showroom features models of the different types of panels customers can choose from, placed on miniature versions of various roofs, from asphalt shingles to tile and even steel, so they can picture what panels may look like on their home.
“We can show how panels are installed for all the different roof types with the same hardware and the same panels; they aren’t just little demo panels, they are the real deal,” Bland said. “We also go over financing options, every step of the installation, and have design software we use to pull up their house up on Google, look at the orientation and layout the panels so the customer can see exactly how the system would look on their house.”
Between the two companies, there are 130 full-time employees and about 50 part-time and temporary employees, Bland said.
With more employees and more business under CalCom Solar, Bland said he and his fellow founders anticipated ranking on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list, but didn’t expect to be rated so high.
“We knew we would probably get on the list, but we never expected to be in the top three out all the companies in the United States,” Bland said. “We’re also the No. 1 solar company and in a broader scope, we’re the No. 1 fastest growing energy company in the United States.”
According to the Inc. 50o0 list, CalCom Solar reported revenue growth of 31,634 percent from 2012 to 2015 and enjoyed $33.4 million in revenue in 2015.
CalCom Solar CEO Dylan Dupre said the ranking is exciting and that CalCom will continue to see growth moving forward.
“I am excited about the company’s strategic direction and our commitment to delivering world class projects, technology and exceptional customer service,” Dupre said. “We’ve been profitable since our inception, and going forward our business model emphasizes a disciplined and balanced approach to growth and profitability.”