In this special edition of Contractor’s Corner, solar structure manufacturer and installer M Bar C talks about how the company has adapted to new construction markets and solar technologies over the years. Below is a portion of the company’s Solar Spotlight podcast with Solar Power World, but be sure to listen to the full episode here or on your favorite podcast app to learn more about M Bar C’s journey to solar.
SPW: How has construction changed in M Bar C’s 45 years in business?
Erik Krivokopich, VP, business development: We’ve been in construction since 1975, and a lot of the ways we’ve done construction have been altered. We’ve had to be able to pivot in order to continue to deliver, specifically with the solar industry. Obviously, it’s changing. Every single year, panels are getting bigger, construction methods are different, the expectations are different. In order to keep up with that, we’ve had to be adaptable.
Solar’s been here for a long time and it’s going to be around a lot longer. We’ve had to keep practicing and making things right. Our clients continue to change — what used to be a niche market has now become an actual trade where the specifications are created. There’s now clear expectations that are set for the construction industry, specifically with our trade, that make us better, and we were part of writing those expectations.
Tell me more about the pivoting you had to do, and when did you decide to get into solar?
I think it was 1998 or 1999, I guess solar carports were just starting in Europe. A gentlemen came to us and said, ‘Have you ever thought about putting a solar panel in a carport?’ We’re like, ‘No, what the heck, let’s give it a shot and see what happens.’ We had been doing regular apartment complex carports for 20 or 30 years and we were like, ‘All we’re doing is adding glass to the top of a carport anyway, let’s try it.’ So we did, and the rest is history.
We’ve become a lot more efficient over time, higher quality. When you’re putting glass over people’s heads, it’s a big deal. We’ve had to customize pretty much every single job and it’s made us stay on our toes. When I started, I think we were doing 180-W panels. Now panels are 500 W. In order to do that same revenue, we’ve had to do three-times as much work. We’ve had to be efficient and grow with the industry.
How do you see M Bar C construction continuing to adapt and develop in the future?
The good part about what we do is solar is not going anywhere. Funding and incentives are still strong and I don’t expect them to go anywhere in my lifetime. We’re going to be around a long time. We’ve adapted so far and we’ve come out really strong. We’re continuing to expand into the East Coast and we’re supplying people with solutions they’ve never seen before. The demand is always going to be there, and we’re always thinking outside the box of different products and services we can offer. A lot of times, folks are looking for a solution that may not exist, but we’ve made a lot of solutions exist that didn’t before. That’s what keeps us strong.
This podcast is sponsored by M Bar C