by Peter Fiala, Vice President
For our latest Member Spotlight interview, we chose Drews Solar, a family-run solar installer located in Madison, Wisconsin. The company is run by Michael and Maria Drews and has been a LSC member since 2017.
How did Drews Solar get started?
When Michael graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2005, he knew wanted to get into renewables. He started working with a small local company in Madison, then moved to Los Angeles to manage the Los Angeles branch of Solar City, a quickly-growing residential solar installer. California’s appetite for solar and electric vehicle charging kept Michael and his branch’s 60 employees very busy.
In 2016, Michael moved back to Wisconsin and decided to start his own solar installation company. Michael worked alone his first year, installing six projects. Maria joined Drews Solar for the 3rd installation season, and they added an installer to work beside Michael, helping grow the capacity of the company. Although they have been growing significantly, Maria and Michael don’t have the intention to grow their business beyond one installation crew. They prefer to keep a happy medium that balances work for their team with the ability to deliver excellent customer service and ongoing support. “I like the personal touch of dealing with the customers directly. Staying small allows me to give each project my attention and to make sure all of our projects are done to our high standards,” says Michael.
Describe your company. How does it work?
There are two full-time and two part-time installers during the solar season, in addition to Michael as lead installer and project coordinator and Maria as office and intake coordinator. Maria handles solar estimates and the initial back and forth with the client, answering questions prior to a site assessment. If the client is interested in moving forward, Michael completes a site visit with a formal quote. If the client wants to continue they sign on and the project begins.
What types of systems do you install?
Drews Solar specializes in a streamlined approach, incorporating system designs and equipment they know they can rely upon in residential or family farm settings. Their systems utilize string inverters and optimizers from Solar Edge to maximize solar production. Additionally, the racking system and choice of solar panel brand remains mostly the same throughout each season. This allows them to buy larger amounts of standard equipment which is efficient and keeps costs down for customers.
There are a lot of people that want to go solar and they know that they can help the most people if the installation team can move through residential projects fast, with precision and skill. As part of their streamlined approach, Drews Solar sticks to standard rooftop solar arrays and leaves flat roofs, ground mounts, and commercial projects to larger installers.
Making an impact
Drews Solar has demonstrated a commitment to giving back and has partnered with notable non-profits in the area. In 2021, Drews Solar partnered with a Habitat for Humanity family to provide a solar system with no labor costs. The family was passionate about going solar, but couldn’t afford the investment of the system upfront, which is a barrier for many lower-income families. Drews Solar partners with causes like this because they feel strongly about helping the people who need solar the most. “Everyone needs to switch to renewable energy,” says Maria, “but lower-income families benefit the most from the reduced electricity bills. We wanted to do our part to help this family make their dream of going solar a reality.”
Working with Drews Solar
If you are in Dane County or the surrounding area and are looking for a standard rooftop solar array, Drews Solar would be a great choice. Drews Solar is already full for 2022, but will be booking 2023 installs starting in September. Feel free to contact Maria Drews at firstname.lastname@example.org with initial questions about your future system.