StraightUp Solar is a Certified B Corporation, meaning they are recognized to practice the highest standards of social and environmental practices to balance “people, planet, and profit.” StraightUp Solar designs, installs, and maintains residential and commercial-scale solar systems in Missouri and Illinois. Since 2015 they have more than doubled their workforce and expect to triple it by mid-2019.
StraightUp Solar was one of the first solar installation companies in Missouri when it began in 2006 and has since expanded its business to the Illinois market. To date, the company has installed 1500 solar arrays and its service team manages another 1,000 systems. More than half of its 63 employees are based in the St. Louis, Missouri office and the rest working at satellite offices in Illinois.
StraightUp Solar’s services combine all stages of the PV installation process, including solar design, installation, and system maintenance. Their business development and marketing team works hard to recruit customers through events such as “Power Hours,” which educate community members on solar installations and offer group purchasing discounts. They also have a permitting and interconnection team which focuses solely on deciphering local permits and interconnection requirements and paperwork for each of their installations.
The company’s five installation crews are made up of three array installers and one electrician. In recent years, many have traveled to Illinois five days out of the week to complete a project. With the business growing in the Illinois community solar market to take advantage of new state policies, the company is expanding its office in Bloomington, Illinois to better support locally based installation crews.
Since its founding, StraightUp Solar has led efforts to help improve Illinois and Missouri’s renewable energy policies. However, “a lot of the challenges we faced in the past have dissipated over time as the solar industry matures and people become aware of the cost competitiveness of solar,” says Erin Noble, Director of Business Operations. Aaron Miller, a Field Project Coordinator, notes that another challenge is keeping his crew safe in the face of extreme weather. As a Midwest company, his face additional challenges on the hottest days of the summer and the coldest days of winter. To ensure worker safety he sometimes has to slow installation work, which can affect their entire project schedule.
As StraightUp Solar continues to expand its portfolio, they are expected to hire an additional 25 people in 2019. “It is fun to grow the team – I love meeting talented candidates that are excited to get into solar and help propel our country’s clean energy transition. In addition, I’m thrilled to see new solar trainings and certification programs to help workers who have been laid off in other industries to get re-trained to pursue a career in solar,” Noble says.
The fastest growing jobs at StraightUp Solar are electricians and array installers, though all teams are growing to support the increased project load. Miller foresees the need to create additional Field Project Coordinator positions that act as a direct line of communication between directors and field crews. This presents an opportunity for field crew members to get additional certifications, training and be promoted, giving more workers the opportunity for career advancement.