Greg Albright reflects on how things started out for residential solar power, where they are now, and where they’re going.
Recently, Greg Albright, the president of solar installation company Freedom Forever, was driving through the city of Riverside in Southern California when he suddenly realized he was passing by the very first home he had installed solar energy on just ten years ago. Struck with nostalgia, Albright stopped his car and rang the doorbell.
“I simply introduced myself and asked how their system was working for them,” Albright told CEO Magazine. “Of course, they didn’t know who I was, but their solar was working great. When I got into the industry a decade ago, I started out in sales for a small company called Solar Plus. It’s interesting to think about how things started out, where we are now, and where we’re going.”
Freedom Forever is a solar installation company that provides Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) for its independent dealer partners which include some of the most successful solar sales companies in the industry. Since its foundation in 2011, Freedom Forever has grown to service California, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, and Nevada out of six large, regional installation hubs.
Over the course of those eight years, Freedom has gone from a scrappy start-up—in the words of Greg Albright—to one of the fastest growing companies in the solar industry. In 2018, the company saw its revenues nearly double to $100 million from the previous year, and they continue to outpace themselves quarter after quarter on revenues. “I immediately gravitated towards solar because it was improving lives by helping people to save money, and it was good for the environment,” Albright said on his passion for the solar energy business. “It truly is the future.”
The energy of the future, today
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), 10.6 GW of solar power was installed in the US in 2018, representing an average annual growth rate of 50% over the past ten years. This positive impact on the environment has been significant—according to the SEIA, solar generation offsets more than 73 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year, which is equivalent to taking 15.6 million cars off the road or planting nearly 1.2 billion trees.
Freedom Forever delivers a solar solution to homeowners with flexible financing, backed by a unique 25-year production guarantee. “Our 25-year production guarantee provides the ultimate peace-of-mind for homeowners who may otherwise be reluctant to make a big investment,” Albright said. “Furthermore, solar gives them the opportunity to save on energy costs and increase the value of their home by as much as $15,000. With careful planning, a home solar panel system is an investment that can pay dividends for decades to come.”
Freedom Forever is currently growing at a rapid pace as evident by its #135 ranking on the 2018 Inc. 500 list compiled by Inc.com—Freedom’s third year being featured among the fastest growing companies in the US. At the root of its success, Albright believes that Freedom houses some of the most forward-thinking professionals in the solar energy industry. Yet he insisted that the company’s key goal is sustaining such growth while maintaining its already considerable reputation for quality customer care.
“With fast growth comes great responsibility—we’re staying laser-focused on positive, sustainable cash flow so that we remain financially healthy for the long run,” Albright elaborated. “This is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve built a foundation of culture and systems that allow us to provide outstanding care and service no matter how large we grow. It’s the people and processes that make it all come together.”
Albright described how Freedom Forever scours the marketplace to ensure that the company is procuring the best materials at a reasonable price for its customers and stressed he is extremely proud of the way the company operates transparently with its partners.
“It’s tough to predict market trends given the diversity of materials we purchase and the current trend of global trade issues,” he explained. “However, this has forced us to be nimbler, more resourceful, and more flexible. We set up our independent authorized dealer partners for success with a premium offering and flexible financing options at the best rates.
“It’s a very open relationship and there are obviously multiple suppliers and distributors that want to work with us because we’ve grown so well. But it’s imperative that we make sure we’re partnering with the right people. We have multiple players that are a part of each deal. So, collaboratively, all of us need to work together to ensure that we’re the most efficient and the lowest cost that we can be. All of us need to do a better job of streamlining so that we can reduce our cost to the customer, and ultimately put up more solar and help to combat climate change.”