Jory Mack- Reno Solar
Jory Mack, Reno Solar, interview transcript, by Alan Olsen for The American Dreams Show:
Alan Olsen: Can you share a little about your background and how your company, Reno Solar came about?
Jory Mack: I was working at a gym and had a friend that, that wanted to be partners. I basically I quit the my job at the gym and as I went to go and work with him he had an epiphany and said, “I just don’t know if I even want a partner period.” So for me, I was like, “well, I’ve already quit my job, so I’m going into business. I kind of just took a leap and I started with the kiosks in the mall. It’s funny, because I used to hate the kiosks, when you walk by them, and think, “Ah I don’t want to talk with them.”
I don’t care what business it is; you’ll get a lot of people that will tell you not to do it. And what I’ve noticed is you just don’t listen to those people because I will tell you, there’s going to be naysayers, and there’s going to be negative people from the beginning of any business. You still want to be really smart about something, you don’t want to make bad decisions however realize that part of entrepreneurship is like jumping off a plane or off a cliff and building a plane on the way down. So, I’ve noticed that you have to make the move to just go with it and put your all into it.
I started with kiosks and I would say my main key to success was saving my money. At the beginning, even though I was making pretty good money, I was eating bagels, and cream cheese, so that I could make sure that I saved every penny and that I could reinvest it into another business and I did.
As opportunities came, I then started buying other businesses. It started with more kiosks in the mall. Then I did a phone repair shop. One of my buddies was out doing a lot of mobile phone repair. He was doing okay, he was making enough money to survive, but he had always wanted a shop, but he couldn’t build up enough money to actually get a shop. Since I saved my money, I was able to invest in a shop with him. Since then we’ve been partners ever since.
Listen, if right now somebody offered to sell me a $20 million hotel right now and it was worth 100 million would I be able to buy it right now? No, I wouldn’t. But would somebody who’s who has who has saved up all their money or who has the ability to do- so they could do that. And they could turn $20 million into $100 million. But you have to start by saving. My first business was $4,000 and then I went into it $60,000 and as it keeps going, you can buy bigger businesses because you’re saving money. That to me is one of the most important things.
Alan Olsen: You know, what I? What I think it’s interesting is that how you have grown companies holistically have and it’s a calculated risk but it’s your skin in the game versus some people go out and say let me get a loan from a bank or let me bring investors in right away. And let me ask the question, have you have you had the experience of managing other people’s money?
Jory Mack: On a very low level for me, if I was kind of in a place where I would like to have a little bit more working capital I have a friend that that would basically say, “Listen, I know you’re going to pay me back so and I would offer her a good amount of interest and she’d be happy with that. And so I would go out and out and at least make sure that I have that buffer. But pretty much everything was on me. The the most I ever got was, I a $16,000 loan and that was that was really just for working capital. I could have done it myself, however I just wanted to have a little extra so I could make sure I made the right decision instead of being a little scared with my money if that makes sense.
Alan Olsen: Let’s roll up to today. You’re now in Reno Solar?
Jory Mack: That was more recent. Because of the whole COVID thing basically, all the malls got shut down, everything got shut down. The first three weeks, were the best weeks of my life because I was getting no calls from employees, it was the best vacation I ever had. After that, it drove me nuts, because I just have to work. So basically I had been doing a lot of research into the solar industry for about three years. And actually one of my friends was working in the solar industry. So he and I partnered up on that and it’s going great.
Alan Olsen: What is Reno Solar’s business model?
Jory Mack: Mainly we’re the consultants and we partner with an installation company. Obviously, it’s the the installers that that do the back end work. And we go around and talk to people and do a lot of advertising, we do a lot of the door knocking, Facebook advertising leads, we get all sorts of that type of stuff. It was easier for us, at least at the beginning to start that way. Because we wanted people that really knew what they’re doing with the installers. Once we got to that point, then we could actually do installs ourselves.
Alan Olsen: So would you so would you say that you’re first marketing company and second and installation or now are now you full service?
Jory Mack: Right now we’re still doing more of the marketing and and sales part of it. And then, like I said, we’re probably going to be getting into the installs soon.
Alan Olsen: So in today’s world, there’s a lot of people that are looking for alternative energy sources with the fires recently coming through causing- I’ll call them brownouts with the electricity going off has given people a lot of concern for stability in this market. What are some of the incentives that are out there right now for a person installing solar in their home?
Jory Mack: I mean, there’s a lot of incentives. If you think about it, from this perspective, you’re already paying your bill. Right now you’re already paying a electricity bill. So at the end of the day, you’re just switching from an electricity bill to NV energy or whoever you’re working with to a fixed solar bill where you’re basically financing a system. And it actually ends up being less because it covers your whole system basically and offsets your whole bill. Once I once I got into this industry, I put solar on my roof immediately because it was just it just made sense to me. You’re building equity, you get tax credits too, you get a 26% tax credit, which is going away- next year is going to be 22%. But you get a lot of a lot of government incentives, you get a lot of incentives, just in the fact that you get the ability to save money instead of spending. It’s kind of like the difference between renting a house and buying a house. You know, if you’re going to be spending that money, you’re spending less and it’s going towards equity.
That is a great analogy. So purchasing a home, typically there’s a large down payment. When you do solar installation is it the same?
No, there’s no money up front. I will tell you not every solar company does it that way, but we do no money up front.
Alan Olsen: Who finances it?
Jory Mack: So we have a company called Sunlight, we’ve got companies called, Loan Pal, we have, we have a few different ones, it depends on if somebody has good credit or bad credit. But I would say for the majority of what we do, we do mostly Sunlight. It’s basically solar financing. So it’s based on solar, it allows you to, before you get the tax credits, you get a certain amount of time, you get 17 months to actually to roll that tax credit in. And so it actually starts out at the lower payment, which is nice for people.
Alan Olsen: What does a solar system typically cost for an average home?
Jory Mack: That’s really hard to say, because the average home might have, you know, two three kids, you know, you might have zero kids… usually it’s usually somewhere around (before the tax credits) $20,000 to $40,000 and it’s financed over 20 years. So it usually ends up being lower than your energy costs.
Alan Olsen: Is there a certain point of energy use, at which it makes sense to go to go to solar?
Jory Mack: Honestly believe solar is the way to go period. If you think about it from this way, a vacation home, let’s say has a lot less electricity usage- you can just build a smaller system. So it still will offset your hole. And there’s a thing called net metering, where basically, it offsets your electricity, so we bill it at an average. So when your bill goes up and down and when you’re under producing, you’re using credits. And when you’re over producing, you’re actually gaining credits from the utility.
Alan Olsen: Can you actually go backward then and make money off of this?
Jory Mack: In some states you can. In Nevada you can’t- you get credits, you don’t get an actual check. But they used to do that they used to do that.
Alan Olsen: How has technology changed in the last 10 years?
Jory Mack: So believe it or not, there hasn’t really been a whole lot of change in the solar industry technology. It hasn’t gotten a whole lot more efficient. When it comes to solar, the technology is pretty much the technology. There are things people trying to do tiles, there’s even there’s talk about a solar paint, but a lot of those things are kind of falling away. Tesla was doing the tile roofs, and that didn’t really work out. I think they just canceled their program. It’s usually just panels. I think they’re 10%-15% more efficient than they used to be, but you know, they’re not, it’s not a crazy amount.
Alan Olsen: With advances in technology, do you see that one day you can exclusively power your home with solar?
Jory Mack: You can exclusively power your home with solar right now. I wouldn’t necessarily go through and do that for an entire guys city unless they’re putting it on each individual roof. Because I do know that if if you think about it this way, if you’re powering an entire city with solar, what happens if you have a month where there’s no, no sun? Eventually you’ll have an issue there on a whole city. But when it comes to individual homes, it’s actually really good for for everybody.
Alan Olsen: Tesla has a system where they’re saying we’re going to put a battery in your home and accumulate the solar panels in it. Does that work? Is that something that you deal in with the power reserve in the home?
Jory Mack: That’s actually the way that you can basically make sure that you don’t have to worry about blackouts or brownouts or any of that stuff- especially in today’s age with the rolling blackouts and all that stuff that you were talking about it. It’s definitely important. I’m going to be getting a battery as well, at the beginning, I didn’t really think it was an important thing for me to have, but I want to have it just in case something goes out I don’t want to be replacing food and all that stuff.
Alan Olsen: So Jory, what is your geographic area that you’re doing installations in?
Jory Mack: Reno, Nevada. We’re focused mainly in Nevada. We can do some California, we can do some stuff in Arizona and Utah as well. But right now we’re mainly focusing on Reno.
Alan Olsen: How does a solar owner handle snow?
Jory Mack: We build the system based upon the fact that we have over 300 days of sun in Nevada. So that’s all based on a shade reading that we do. A lot of times, the snow will actually just slide off because of the way that the panels are built.
Alan Olsen: What is your approach to building an effective management team?
Jory Mack: A lot of it has been organic. At the beginning, you try to hire managers and put them in. Every once in a while that works. But honestly, raising a team in my opinion, kind of like raising children in a way, you got to kind of really teach them what you’ve learned, and you have to keep learning, and always have to stay ahead of the group, and always be learning from another source and then be able to transfer that knowledge to the next person. I’ll tell you, it’s worked really well. My managers are awesome, I absolutely love them.
Alan Olsen: What do you enjoyed most about being an entrepreneur?
Jory Mack: They say, entrepreneurship is the, it’s the only job that you work an 80 hour job for yourself to avoid working a 40 hour job for someone else. I think the thing that I love is the fact that I get to build something. I feel so accomplished, when I’m done, when I can actually look back at it and go, that’s mine I created that from the ground up. I think it’s the accomplishment, afterwards, that is the the best part. Because I will tell you, it’s not easy, being an entrepreneur, it’s pretty tough. You’re gonna you’re gonna want to quite often, I probably wanted to quit maybe five times. And I just keep pushing through, you just keep pushing through. Because you know, at the end you’re gonna see what you want to see. It’s kind of like working out, you know, nobody wants to go and just work out. But they love seeing what happens afterwards.
Alan Olsen: I love the analogy and more often than not, the entrepreneurs are trying to solve a problem, not basically focusing on the money. The money will follow as the problem gets solved.
Jory Mack: Exactly. I think You want to focus on the procedure or the process. Love the process, because if you love the process, then you’ll get the results. It’s hard to love the process sometimes, but I will say at the end of it if you’re if you’re enjoying what you do like knowing that you’re pushing to accomplish something- just like working out. If you love the process, you’ll get the results. If you only want results, you’ll be checking the mirror every day. And then when you don’t get it in three days, you’re going to be over it.
Alan Olsen: How do people reach out to you for more information or if they want to get a solar panel in their home?
Jory Mack: Email us at admin@RenoSolar.org or you send me a text at 775-846-9371.
Edited for Concision and Clarity
This transcript was electronically generated and may not contain the exact words used.
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Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of GROCO.com. GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.
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