Solar company expanding at lightspeed

Kuubix Energy, Inc. is the fastest growing solar company in California, 47th fastest growing company in the nation

VISALIA – A Visalia-based solar company is seemingly expanding its business at the speed of light.

Since incorporating in 2017, Kuubix is now considered one of the fastest growing companies in the United States. Inc. Magazine, which annually ranks companies on their rate of growth, ranked Kuubix No. 47 on its 2020 list of the 5,000 fastest growing companies. Earlier this year, Inc. ranked Kuubix No. 10 on its 2021 list of fastest growing companies in California and No. 1 for the fastest growing solar company in California. The ranking noted the company’s nearly 2,000% growth in the last two years alone.

“Kuubix was recently named by the Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S., and in the last few months we have done a complete overhaul of our operations and brought in a team of executives that ensures our ability to continue this growth,” Kuubix CEO Josh Butt said.

Three longtime friends Tyler Pender, Josh Buffington, and Mark Orwig combined their skills in September 2016 to begin planning a solar company. They officially incorporated the company under the name Kuubix, a play on their logo based on a Rubik’s cube, in 2017. The name is now an acronym for its core principals of: Knowledge, Unity, Unconventional, Balance, Integrity, and eXcellence.

The three men took out a loan of $11,000 to buy materials from a local provider on their first job and made enough money to pay back the loan and start a business. Pender was already selling solar in the Central Valley in 2016 when he convinced Buffington and Orwig to start their company in Visalia. Buffington’s operational and logistical experience, combined with Orwig’s legal and human resources skills and Pender’s sales helped fast track the company’s plans for expansion in the residential solar market.

“The owners work well together,” said Geoff Howard, VP of Kuubix Home. “They all have different personalities but those differing points of view allow them to question each other, think differently and strike a balance between that and benefits the company.”

Howard said the company has grown from the three co-owners to more than 200 employees and 25 dealers. In 2019, the company hired a new executive team. Two key hires during expansion have been Dan Sokyra, VP of Operations, who has worked in solar for 10 years, and Egil Rosten, a Norwegian native with a similar solar tenure who is now VP of Sales working out of California’s Castro Valley. Howard brought a business background, including renewable fuels energy, when he joined the company. Rosten said one of the unique things about Kuubix is its operational model and proactive approach to customer service.

“We essentially took a dealership model,” Rosten said.

Many solar companies try to do everything in house and end up hiring too many employees too quickly without developing a reputation for the actual work of installing systems. Rosten said Kuubix spent its first few years finding and developing quality installers and can essential install a system in about six hours if everything goes right.

“It’s hard to find good installers in the industry, so we did the hard part first,” Rosten said.

Once they had an efficient system, Kuubix then began contracting with select solar sales people who were not only paid on sales but are also provided leads and technical support while meeting with clients. At the root of company’s expansion is the concept of “lean innovation,” a fancy way of saying they embrace new technology to improve customer experience, cut down on bureaucracy and streamline the development of their product. For Kuubix, this meant developing project tracking and management software that could notify dealers and customers of changes or delays in a project due to a material shortage, inclement weather or the permitting process.

“At the core of every residential solar project is that this is a home improvement project,” Rosten said. “In this industry, reputation is everything, and we have built a reputation for keeping our customers up to date on their project by making sure we show up on time, finish on time, build what we promised, and clean up when we’re done.”

Kuubix also operates its own call center, staffed by real people, who work just as hard making calls to customers as they do answering them. Howard said the call center takes a more proactive approach to customer service. Instead of waiting for customers to call with questions about their solar project, scheduling conflicts or any complaints, employees at the call center do periodic check ins with customers to make sure they are happy with all aspects of the service.

“Instead of waiting for customers to call us with problems, we call them to let them know what the problems are and how we are handling them,” Howard said.

The call center also provides live technical support for dealers who may have a question while meeting with a client. Dealers can also follow up on leads and set appointments through the call center. Howard’s latest role in the company is heading up Kuubix Home, a new branch which will provide maintenance and cleaning on all Kuubix installed solar systems. As a certified installer for Tesla Powerwall’s, Howard said Kuubix can install the electric battery system that can store 13.5 kilowatt hours of usable electricity generated by your solar panels.

“We had clients in Bay Area who never lost power during the rolling blackouts this year because they had enough stored energy to power their home,” Howard said. “We would not have been selected as a certified Tesla installer without having a good reputation with our customers.”

The company expects to continue its rapid expansion after a recent announcement it had secured a major private investment. A month ago, Kuubix announced an agreement with Israeli solar developer Solegreen LTD (TASE: SLGN). The publicly traded company designs, builds and operates power-generation facilities using renewable energy. It currently has approximately 23MW installed PV capacity, 49 megawatt (MW) in advanced construction, and 680 MW in its pipeline.

Under the terms of the agreement Solegreen is expected to invest up to $104 million in the company over the next two years in the form of equity and convertible loans.

“Expansion into the U.S. market was one of our main objectives for 2021,” Solegreen Chairman Gal Bogin said. “Kuubix’s track record for rapid growth and the strength of their management team make them uniquely positioned for continued growth and expansion and an ideal partner for Solegreen.”

The investment will enable the company to continue its expansion of residential and commercial installation capacity in California, Texas, Nevada and Florida. On the residential solar side, Kuubix said substantial funding will be allocated to build a robust direct-to-consumer marketing operation. This will accelerate the growth of Kuubix’s dealerships by assisting with lead generation and appointment setting. Moreover, considerable focus will be placed on best-in-class solutions for sales enablement and communication.

“The partnership with Solegreen will free up funds to go deep with selected dealerships to help them grow in all our markets—California, Texas, Florida, and Nevada this year and then nationwide in 2022,” Butt said.

Howard and Rosten said Kuubix’s success shouldn’t affect the company’s plans to keep its headquarters in Visalia. Both men pointed out the central location along Highway 99 and the low cost of living which allows the company to keep salary’s competitive while employees spend comparatively less of their take home pay on housing and property.

“Not only do the owners have a personal connection to Visalia, it is also an ideal location between two of the largest solar markets in the country, so there is tremendous reach from here,” Rosten said.

Howard added, “This is a great place to do business and you can offer a livable wage.”

-This article was updated at 11:58 AM PST on May 13, 2021.

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