Leadership — Green Energy
Founder, president, chief executive officer, CFO and FSL (Fearless Solar Leader)
Solar Works (JP & Sun, Inc.)
P.O. Box 1938, Sebastopol 95473, 707 829-8282, solarworksca.com
Professional background: Astrophysicist, Solar Business Owner
Education: University of California, Irvine
What do you see as the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?
Make all decisions with integrity, based on the long-term health of the business, staff, customers, community and planet.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your industry?
When I began Solar Works in 1986, the solar “industry” was small, with a focus on sustainable, clean solutions to provide for our energy needs and promote self-reliance.
Unfortunately, some solar providers and manufacturers have lost sight of the goal in their business models and practices, and focus mainly on their own economic benefit. Fortunately, B (for benefit) Corporations, now legal entities in California, take us back to our roots, and we are proud to be one.
Tell us about the particular challenges and opportunities your organization has met in the recent past?
It is very challenging for small, community-oriented businesses right now, but also very gratifying to receive consistent community support for the quality solar work we do and the way we operate our business.
What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?
Think long-term for the sustainability and health of your business, community and most importantly, the planet. Provide leadership with integrity. Serve in order to lead.
What’s the best advice for weathering today’s economic environment?
Build your business slowly and carefully, don’t grow faster than you can sustain, and form partnerships and alliances that keep you strong and resilient.
How do you think your business will change in the next five years?
We will still be here, doing quality work and providing excellent customer service.
What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it?
No regrets. We learn from every experience.
What is your most memorable business experience?
My most memorable business experience? Lasting nearly 27 years, and going strong!
What is your greatest business success?
See above statement
What was your toughest business decision?
Dealing with personnel issues when the health of the business was at stake, and making a difficult but necessary decision.
What would your friends be surprised to find out about you?
I still surprise my friends (and myself) that I have a life outside our business.
Most admired businessperson outside the company: I admire business owners who do what’s right for the long-term health of the planet, rather than what’s good for their own short-term profit.
Current reading: Mostly journals, including Scientific American, Sky and Telescope, Science News
Most want to meet: I’d love to meet a banker who understands and supports local business, and will work with the community to provide financial support to help us all prosper.
Stress relievers: Music, sky-gazing, nature, being home and working on projects in our piece of paradise
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