As the face of ProQuip International, president Sam Tavernese definitely represents what his company is all about – passion and progressive thinking.
He will not hesitate to expound on the Brantford-based firm's proud mandate – which looks far beyond the green 'trends' and aims to power change on how we all think about energy.
Yes, ProQuip offers a full gamut of solar-powered equipment. But under Tavernese's inspired direction, his team also works with developers, utility suppliers, and homeowners to help shape a new generation of environmentally-friendly and energy conservation-aware communities.
Ad ProQuip doesn't stop there. They have a solar solutions for projects large and small, from commercial generation of electricity, to heating home water supplies, to solar LED lighting options. And that's just the start.
Since the company started out back in 1996, offering LED lighting solutions to the automotive industry, growth has been dynamic and ongoing, to the point where the firm now provides a full resource of renewable LED and renewable solar energy products.
"The vision has always placed an emphasis on innovative technology and smart solutions," said Tavernese.
And just as green initiatives have evolved over the years, so, too, has ProQuip's modus operandi.
"LED lighting saves energy," he said. "As our reputation for quality LED products was being advocated, we were approached by a U.S. company to develop LED products to merge with solar energy.
"Emphasizing ProQuip's strong engineering capabilities, we began to fully engage in an understanding of solar power and the promise it holds. Timing is sometimes everything and with the adoption of Ontario's feed-in tariff (FIT) program, we were well-positioned to visualize a new direction for the company – being a leader in building green communities and offering fully-integrated solar PV (cells that convert solar radiation into direct current electricity).
That means, he said, that now ProQuip is not only a LED lighting specialist, but now acts as an engineering, procurement and construction provider for solar projects in Ontario.
"So, yes, the vision has changed," Tavernese said, "from being a provider of solid-state LED lighting products to the automotive industry – to a full resource of renewable LED energy products and renewable solar energy projects."
Tavernese harkens back to the early days of ProQuip and remembers how there was a "willingness from all of us" that the time would come when a revolution would take place allowing the merger of science and technology with faith "in making our planet a cleaner place so we could leave something" for future generations.
From the company's humble beginnings, ProQuip has now grown, with 12 full-time employees in Brantford, most of them in high-level engineering positions, he said. Additionally, Tavernese said there is a trickle-down effect, with his company's support of 80 other jobs with its LED-contracted manufacturer, plus assorted construction sub-trades such as electricians, roofers and labourers who have all worked on solar PV and solar LED projects.
Over the years, Tavernese said public and commercial interest in ProQuip services has really taken off, and it all started with LED lighting.
"LED lighting always," he said. "When you offer smart sensible alternatives, and you demonstrate that they work, then interest takes off.
"When you can show a savings, and a 'right' solution, and fulfill the promises that the technology advances, then it becomes easy to change mindsets.
"When people see this … see us actually in construction, yes they become impressed and they become publicly and commercially interested.
"You have to establish that you know what you are doing and you have to believe in the technologies yourself and, as well, adopt them yourself."
One of the offshoots of ProQuip's initiatives, he pointed out, is locally-owned Solarize Energy, a project developer that focuses on solar projects qualifying for the FIT program. And, he added, most of the Solarize Energy investors are ProQuip employees.
To this day, the company continues to forge ahead, he said, overcoming adverse publicity such as a "solar is too expensive" mentality, by providing informed input to all interested parties.
"Yes, there is adversity, but for the most part people do understand," he explained. "We take extra care in taking customers step by step through any concerns they may have.
"We also ensure that they not only speak with sales staff, but with engineering, so that they have a very good understanding of the technology and its benefits.
"People are becoming more conscious of long-term cost and energy savings. They can do the math. If something costs them $1 now and saves them $10 in the long run, as well as doing something good for the environment, well, they'll see those savings realized … because the technology does provide for it."