Green energy has been on the rise and it’s probably most noticeable by simply looking at the roofs in your neighborhood- it seems like almost everyone has solar panels mounted to their house in San Antonio! While it isn’t true that everyone has panels, it is true that solar energy is becoming more and more accessible and we can thank businesses like Texas Solar, for this! Mike Sardo is the CEO of Texas Solar, and he is passionate about bringing green energy options to the average consumer, as well as educating the population on how they can benefit from solar panels!
Mike Sardo is a San Antonio native and a graduate of Southwest Texas State, now known as Texas State University. While pursuing his degree, Sardo joined the cheer team, an easy transition from his weightlifting background. His interest and dedication to cheerleading, combined with his coaching degree, led Sardo to developing his very first business – a cheerleading gym. This endeavor allowed him to combine his experience in cheer with his passion for business, and ultimately revealed to Sardo that he enjoys starting companies, working through the challenges, and then selling. This mindset is what eventually led him to Texas Solar.
Texas Solar was founded over 15 years ago and as with any business, went through really great years and unfortunately, really bad years. 2019 was a particularly challenging year for the business and Texas Solar was nearing bankruptcy. Many people would not want to get involved in a seemingly failing business, however, this is exactly when Mike Sardo decided to jump in! This action reflects back to his drive to build, problem solve, and develop strong business. As with any smart businessman, Sardo saw the opportunity, took hold, and was able to completely turn Texas Solar around. He took the business from approaching bankruptcy to doing $138 million a year in business, and from 5 employees to a team of over 150 people.
It may seem that with the great success Texas Solar has seen in the last couple of years, Sardo’s job would be over, but this could not be further from the truth. With interest in solar energy spreading throughout the state, and even beyond, the potential that the business holds is close to endless. Additionally, there are still a number of challenges that Texas Solar and Sardo must continue to work through as the economy fluctuates and new rules and regulations regarding solar energy are implemented.
One of the main challenges, or as Sardo refers to them, opportunities, that the team has faced recently was the lending bind. It is no secret that solar panels are expensive, therefore, many residential consumers use loans to pay for their green energy. In previous years, these loans offered long terms with low monthly payments and low interest rates. However, the recent spike in interest rates has spooked and deterred people from using niche loans to pay for solar panels. Despite sounding like an impossible challenge for Texas Solar, Sardo turned it into an opportunity to find a creative solution.
Sardo partnered with Green Lease Co., a firm that provides Investment Tax Credit centered investment opportunities to private investors, finances residential and small commercial solar systems, and offers property owners the ability to benefit from solar at a monthly price that is far lower than lenders are presently offering. For Sardo, working with Green Lease Co. to design a financing solution is his biggest success at Texas Solar. For many of their competitors, the lending bind caused them to close shop, but for Texas Solar, it brought about an innovative solution and opened the door to a new wave of interest and jobs.
Before the lending bind, most of the Texas Solar clients were residential homeowners. These customers could be interested in solar for numerus reasons including desire to reduce carbon footprint or the economic impact of saving money. However, during the lending bind and before the Green Lease, Texas Solar needed to pivot and so they expanded to commercial and agriculture. From installing systems at large farms to placing panels on rental properties and apartment complexes, Texas Solar has grown their clientele to beyond the neighborhoods of San Antonio. In fact, all of their agricultural clients are found out of state, primarily in Tennessee and Kentucky. For the commercial and agricultural industries, going green has tax incentives and USDA Grants, that make the solar panel all that more enticing. However, many of these business owners, farmers, and ranchers are unaware of the benefits they can receive from placing a system on their property. This is where Texas Solar steps in with their education efforts.
The language on the IRS website can be hard to understand, but the team at Texas Solar takes the guess work out of it. By educating those who can benefit the most, Texas Solar is able to help their community while continuing to grow their business. Through extensive sources which can be found on their website, and employing a knowledgeable sales team, Texas Solar is able to empower business owners, homeowners, farmers, and ranchers with the knowledge to make the best choice for themselves, their community, and the environment.
It has not always been easy, which is exactly what Mike Sardo signed up for, but the development and growth that Texas Solar has seen over the last couple of years has been remarkable. Sardo is far from done and plans to take the business to 6 states in 2024. Green Lease Co. is still in its infancy and the entire Texas Solar team is excited to see it develop. Additionally, Sardo will be increasingly involved in identifying investors to support Green Lease Co. with an appetite for tax savings and a 24% IRR.
ADKF is proud to work with driven and dedicated people like Mike Sardo and the Texas Solar team. The giveback to their community is admirable and their growth is well deserved!