Since 2010, The PowerStore in Alvarado, Texas and recently in Mooresville, North Carolina, has supplied solar power and storage solutions to customers in the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean Islands. A Tier 1 authorized distributor for many of the world’s leading solar panel manufacturers, The PowerStore is also a TXSES Platinum Business Member. We caught up with Jim White, founder and CEO, to learn more about The PowerStore. These up-close and personal industry conversations are one of the benefits of a TXSES Platinum Business membership.
TXSES: What or who inspired you to be in the solar industry? What’s so unique about being a Tier 1 solar module manufacturer distributor?
Jim: I have been involved in the Solar Industry for over 30 years as an engineer. I was looking for a way to use my product and design knowledge to assist installers, while being able to supply them with the best options currently available on the market. As a solar distributor, we’re committed to offering exemplary customer service and high-quality products. Tier 1 solar module manufacturers have distinct criteria defined as those that:
- Have been producing solar panels for five years or more
- Are either publicly listed on a stock exchange or have a strong and stable balance sheet;
- Have fully-automated production and a high degree of vertical integration
- Invest significantly in marketing their brand; and
- Enjoy a highly-regarded reputation within the industry for quality and service.
TXSES: As a family-owned business, has your workforce increased over the years? What kinds of skills do you look for?
Jim: We’ve been in business since January 1, 2011. And yes, our workforce has grown steadily over the years. Today, we have 23 team members at our two locations in Texas and North Carolina with skills ranging from sales, marketing, delivery drivers, inventory control and management. While our personnel needs are always dependent on the market, our greatest need right now is for team members in our operations and logistics departments.
TXSES: Given the twin impacts of Winter Storm Uri and climate change, have you seen an uptick in consumer demand? Are you able to maintain panel and battery inventories?
Jim: Yes, we’re seeing increased demand for both solar panels and storage. Maintaining panel and battery inventories has been challenging. Our storage (battery) side of the business has increased markedly over the past few years. We saw a definite spike after Uri. Although we have orders in place with vendors through the end of 2021, we’re in a constant struggle to get product deliveries on time.
TXSES: Where is demand the greatest? North America? Central America? The Caribbean Islands?
Jim: We’re seeing the greatest demand here in North America. Although our Caribbean and Central American customers have plenty of interest in storage, unfortunately, the higher costs for a solar/storage solution are often prohibitive.
TXSES: 2020 was a challenging year for us all, but you were able to open a new location in Mooresville, NC this year. Was that a decision to service the fast-growing solar markets in the southeast?
Jim: Yes. We opened our Mooresville, NC office and warehouse on Jan 1st 2021 – exactly 10 years after opening our Texas facility because we have many installation customers in North Carolina and the surrounding states. Opening the Mooresville branch allows us to better serve these customers and assist new installers in this very active solar region. We have also more than doubled the size of our Texas facility in 2021, allowing us to increase our stocking capabilities, increase our team members and implement a more efficient process.
TXSES: What have you found to be the biggest challenge in this work?
Jim: Our biggest asset is our team members. Finding and hiring great team members is always our top priority and biggest challenge.
TXSES: What’s surprised you the most about this work?
Jim: Probably the most surprising part is the growing diversity of the solar industry customer base. We support all sorts of customers from environmentalists to individuals with small off-grid cabins, to large national companies installing MW of solar.
TXSES: Solar is no longer limited to environmentalists concerned about climate change or enthusiastic off-gridders. Today, solar’s appeal is broader and wider, offering an extraordinary opportunity to enhance grid resilience with distributed energy resources. What would you advise customers who are interested in going solar?
Jim: Solar is a fantastic investment both financially and socially. Coupled with storage, solar generates additional savings, emergency power availability and if desired complete grid independence. Give us a call. We’ll gladly answer any questions and walk you through the steps to go solar.