Many families have suffered during the recent recession, including those who have lost work in the construction industry. Most people from these industries were left with few options for finding work elsewhere. Michael and Sarah McEachern went out on a limb to transition into a new area of construction that has been booming in an otherwise slow economy; solar installation. Their company, Southland Solar focuses on providing customer support and quality workmanship with truly reasonable prices. Southland Solar is located in the city of Riverside and services Riverside and San Bernardino counties. For more information on solar installation you can visit www.southlandsolarnow.com.
Before the recession Michael had been working for over 20 years in various construction jobs, most recently 15 years as a Forman for a local company that let go of 80% of its employees. Sarah had experience running a small business as a Massage Therapist, but had taken time off when their daughter was born. “Before the layoffs hit, we had been investigating solar for our home and we were inspired by what we learned about solar power. We decided to put all our energy into starting a customer friendly solar business and offer solar power at a reasonable price”. Long time Riverside residents, Michael and Sarah are familiar with Riverside’s efforts to increase the use of clean energy with incentives and education. They felt they were in a good area to help conscientious residents and business owners convert to solar power.
Sarah had found the Inland Empire Small Business Development Center (SBDC) online while investigating support systems for small business and made an appointment for a counseling session. Michael and Sarah also took advantage of the many free and low cost seminars available. “During the first year we worked closely with the SBDC to form our business in an organized way”. The SBDC provids information on starting a business from the ground up with both seminars and one-on-one assistance for advertising, networking, bookkeeping, taxes, and much more. “I really don’t know if we could have done all that without their help, and I was surprised how much help is available at no cost.” One aspect the SBDC was most helpful with was financing. “The loan process was crucial to getting our business started. The SBDC helped us find a loan agency, write our business plan and financials and we were able to secure a small business loan very quickly”.
Of course the McEachern’s have had to deal with common challenges that come with small business such as; financial issues, marketing, getting organized and managing time. But learning the trade was the biggest concern, “We spent a year training with solar installers, getting licensed and learning about rebates. We had to have a solid grasp on the technical aspects of solar installation before we started working. It was very helpful when qualified, experienced installers started contacting us wanting to work”.
Another challenge for Southland Solar has been dealing with the competition. “It’s important to investigate on your own if you’re shopping for solar. We’ve seen a lot of companies putting pressure on customers to make a sale by misrepresenting the rebates or tax credit, and even omitting important information about how much a system can actually produce and some of the prices for installation are very high. We feel we can make a living at this, we don’t need to take advantage of people just because there are great rebates being offered.”
Although based in the city of Riverside, Southland Solar provides service to most of the Inland Empire. For more information on solar power for a home or small commercial building you can contact Michael or Sarah by visiting www.southlandsolarnow.com. (951) 300-8354