The new year offers a chance to muse on what happened in the year just ended and focus on the opportunities waiting in the year ahead. During 2018, the EcoFasten family took a big step toward the future, when Esdec acquired our small but mighty company. The challenge for 2019 will be to combine the two families into one, and create a new, improved version of ourselves, a chance to prove the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. The annual turning of the calendar page has also put me in a contemplative mood, reflecting on my early days in the solar business and EcoFasten’s journey, why we chose to partner with Esdec, and what motivates my colleagues and myself to push forward with our vision of a solar-powered tomorrow.
When I attended my first solar trade show in 2006, I saw an opportunity to make a difference as a roofing specialist, providing roof-mounting products that would meet the needs of the industry. The rooftop solar business was like the Wild West in those days, with little or no regulation and building codes. Since I had years of experience designing, building and installing water-tight roof attachments for my company Alpine Snow Guards, I could look at a roof-mounting product and know immediately what worked and what didn’t. And most of what I saw at that first trade show didn’t look like it would work.
When EcoFasten Solar entered the market a year later, we saw our business take off quickly. At that time, there were a lot of electrical contractors trying to install electrical PV devices on roofs, but few roofing contractors in the room who were experts in the interface between what’s being installed and the roof itself, and how that all meshes together. I was a roofing guy who knew how to attach things to the roof in a simple yet robust way. Since then, our core product line, GreenFasten watertight flashing for composition shingle roofs, has been adopted industrywide and sold to nearly all the PV industry’s racking manufacturers at one time or another.
In 2012, we started to look at the racking market and saw the trend toward rail-less systems, which led us to develop our own rail-less structure. EcoFasten developed the Rock-It System, which is more user-friendly than most other systems out there and offers several patented features to make it easier for installers to rack panels on roofs, quickly and reliably. Rock-It has rocked the market, and today, that product line represents a substantial chunk of our business.
With our success has come a reputation for problem-solving and general roof expertise. I recently had calls with two different customers looking for help with tile roof and metal roof mounting problems. In both cases, they had used someone else’s products that didn’t work, and they asked me, how do we fix this? Even our competitors send people to us who are seeking solutions to their problems.
Over the past couple of years, it became apparent that EcoFasten had grown to a point that we were getting bogged down in the details of running the business. I’m an entrepreneur and am happiest on the roof or in my machine shop, getting my hands dirty with sweat pouring off my face. I am not fond of sitting in an office counting the beans, going over the books, doing marketing and HR and all that. We began to look for a partner that understood the solar mounting sector and had the acumen needed to manage a business properly and efficiently, a partner that would allow me to get back on the roof and into my mad scientist workshop, devising and designing new parts and being creative. I found that partner in Esdec, the new parent company of EcoFasten.
We really want to make products that make a difference in the solar industry, and Esdec has the engineering and infrastructure (including the awesome Innovation Centre in the Netherlands) to allow EcoFasten to do that. The combination of EcoFasten and Esdec represents the perfect marriage of our creativity and entrepreneurial vision of making new products that do things better and Esdec’s acumen, desire and ability to run a business.
In many ways, the European rooftop market is several years ahead of what’s the norm in the U.S.—and most companies here don’t seem to be aware of what’s going on across the pond. We can learn a lot from what’s happening in Europe about how cutting-edge, sustainable roofing products work and what they can do.
With EcoFasten’s new colleagues at Esdec, we have an opportunity to see what’s coming to the U.S. and be in the forefront of what will be a new wave of innovation over the next 10 years. By joining forces with a forward-looking European company like Esdec, we’re at the forefront of developing advanced products that will be needed in the U.S., over the next decade and beyond.
Happy New Year, everyone! Watch this space for more musings, news, professional tips and other commentary from the Esdec-EcoFasten family in the year ahead.