The solar industry is growing, and rapidly. I’ve watched as the economics have shifted over the last couple of decades, and we’re now to the point where it can totally make sense to outfit your house or business with solar.

Ian Skor

That’s why I was excited to speak with Ian Skor recently. He and his partner Andrew Lyle started Sandbox Solar in 2015, focused on serving clients here in northern Colorado. It’s mostly residential for right now, but both residential and commercial are growing rapidly.

Andrew Lyle

I was particularly interested because I had a chance to meet the company at a recent networking meeting on the balcony of the building where their company is. They have a particularly powerful approach to building a great team, based on quality work, customer service, passion, and fun.

Working with about 20 employees over the years, Ian and Andrew have learned that a profitable and sustainable team is built with people who care about their work and enjoy doing it. This isn’t a complicated formula, but I’m constantly shocked at how many companies don’t get it.

For Sandbox, it’s about finding workers who have high standards, who care about saving energy, and who enjoy working with customers. And the ones I talked to displayed that enthusiasm and passion.

I can get depressed by all the companies I work with who claim that customer service is top of their list, and then don’t make decisions consistent with that ambition. It’s way too common.

So it was great to also talk with some people who are actual customers of Sandbox Solar. They rave about how the company gives them the tools to actually see energy savings. One gentleman even went through his entire house appliance by appliance, ultimately finding that his refrigerator was the biggest energy hog. He’s now a huge fan.

Ian’s advice for me as a consumer – because I’ve been interested and checking out solar panels myself – is to do my homework. There are a number of somewhat shady parties out there, so it’s good to compare credentials and results. And because the market is changing so rapidly, to also check again next year because the economics are constantly improving!

For instance, the City of Fort Collins recently introduced variable rates for their electrical power service. Sandbox Solar’s home energy monitor provides consumers a way to directly manage their usage. They also installed two battery systems in Fort Collins to shift power usage and dramatically reduce energy bills.

Of course, I’m also interested to find out what challenges Ian and Andrew are tackling next. Unsurprisingly, some of it is tied to culture and other processes in a rapidly-growing businesses. They also aim to stay debt-free, while maintaining the highest levels of quality and customer satisfaction. These are great goals, based on sustaining and growing the core of their current success.

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