“The one constant in this business is change,” said Scott Siegel. “You have to seize the opportunities that are there.” Siegel, owner of Maggio Roofing and Certified Contractors Network (CCN), believes solar systems pose big opportunities for roofing contractors, and he advised attendees to enter the solar market.
“Get a foothold,” he urged contractors. “Don’t give it up to electricians or so-called solar integrators.”
Solar roofing just makes sense, stated Siegel - and the roofing contractor is the person best suited to install it. “On-site solar technology can reduce utility costs, reduce dependency of fossil fuels, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other ozone-depleting compounds,” he said. “Installing on a roof is logical. By installing on the roof, that building will absorb rays from the sun and use the energy to create electricity.”
The first step in getting into the solar market is to educate yourself. “Research,” said Siegel. “Learn about the technology, both past and present. You have to be able to talk to homeowners about this.” Other key steps to getting started inlcude:
• Putting the tools in place, including the selling system, software and financing. “The key component is financing,” he said.
• Networking with others who are installing solar.
• Training your people - both sales and production. “NRCA is putting together manuals and certifications,” he said. “You have to train your people and train them well.”
• Get some very good electricians who have done solar. Electricians can be hired in house or used as subcontractors, noted Siegel. The key is to make sure the roofing contractor owns the project and protects the integrity of the entire system.
Tax breaks and government programs are a vital component of the system’s return on investment, and Siegel directed contractors to sites like www.dsireusa.org to find out about incentives in their local markets. “The reason solar works is because of the tax credits,” he said.
Siegel noted selling solar requires educating the customer about such issues as rebates, federal tax credits, state grants, utility grants, and net metering. The right software can help simplify the sale.
Contractors should also offer same-as-cash financing. “This is a big deal,” he said.
Solar is here to stay, maintained Siegel. “It has increased roofing business,” he said. “The only contractors that are showing growth are those that are doing something new or those who are in areas with a lot of storm work.”