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B2B Profile: President of Northeast Solar Gregory Garrison

NAME: Gregory Garrison

JOB TITLE, COMPANY: President, Northeast Solar, Hatfield

WEBSITE: www.northeast-solar.com

AGE: 51

WHEN IT WAS FOUNDED: Northeast Solar was founded in 2009 by Ann Bronner and Donald Muccino. They purchased it from Jeff Clearwater.

WHAT YOU DO: Install solar electric systems on commercial and residential properties. EXPERIENCE: 30 years of business ownership in a variety of industries, four years in the solar electric market.

THE MARKET: Residential and commercial property owners that desire sustainable energy solutions to reduce their long-term energy costs and want an above-market rate of return on an investment.

HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: Radio, print media, referrals, direct mail.

WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? We have a credit line with a local community bank secured by receivables.

KEY TO SUCCESS: Put the customer first. Simplify the process. Provide turnkey service. Focus on quality.

CHALLENGES: Competing with national firms that sell product below cost in an effort to capture market share. Yes, solar has its Wal-Marts.

MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: Too numerous to enumerate. But it has made us a quality organization because we learned from everyone. One primary lesson we learned is that we have to be flexible in our scheduling. The utilities have final say on any grid interconnection and therefore control the schedule. Overpromising scheduling can lead to very frustrated customers.

WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: Focus on the customer experience. Focus on quality.

WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: I learn from everyone I come in contact with. Everyone can provide a teaching moment, even if a learning on what not to do. I have learned that it is always good to just show up, shut up and keep up.

TOP GOALS FOR 2013: Create a local PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) fund to install solar at no cost on residential roofs. A PPA allows solar to be installed on the roof at no cost to the homeowner. The installed system is owned by a third party, which bills the customer for the electricity generated. The per-kilowatt-hour rate is less than what is charged by the utility, giving the customer an immediate benefit.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Do what you love, learn from others, innovate, surround yourself with good people and keep moving forward.

PARTING THOUGHT: Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.

B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle, owner of Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at beetlepress@charter.net.

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