Josh Kenyon and Bill Nesbitt, Core Development Group

For the 10th anniversary of the Top Solar Contractors list, we’re sharing Q&As with the people who make the industry run every day. Read more interviews here.

How did you get started in solar energy?

Kenya: I was accepted into the Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s military transition aid program called Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship. They partnered with the Solar Ready Vets program to help military members transition from active duty to the exciting world of solar energy through a 12-week fellowship program. The program helps transferring members write resumes, prepare for an interview, post a job, and finally negotiate benefits. The fellowship is a great way for companies and fellows to essentially have a trial run with each other to see if the job is a good fit for both sides. In my case, yes, and Core Development Group (CDG) offered me a position as Market Development Manager.

Nesbitt: The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation has accepted me into the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship, which works in conjunction with the Solar Ready Vets program. The Hiring Our Heroes fellowship allowed me to serve as an intern at Core Development Group for about three months as part of my transition from Active Duty.

How was your transition from military service to the solar industry?

Kenya: Transitioning from active duty to the world of solar power development was an outstanding experience. Core Development Group has been a great help to me in converting the leadership skills I gained over the past 20 years on active duty into a position as Market Development Manager. I believe my fellowship with Core Development Group was a mutually beneficial experience where I was able to learn a new business and gain CDG some proven strategic leadership processes.

Nesbitt: I cannot emphasize enough how important Core Development Group and these programs were in supporting my smooth transition from the military. The programs helped me translate the skills I developed in a military career spanning more than 20 years and provided excellent networking and training opportunities. Core Development Group provided excellent support that allowed me to get started and immediately contribute to the team.

What is your favorite part of working in the solar industry?

Kenya: My favorite part of working in the solar industry is the constantly emerging efficiencies in both business and technology. A few years ago, a 200W panel was a huge deal. Now we’re installing 450W panels on new shelving systems and adding battery-powered energy storage systems at prices that were unprecedented just a few years ago. Industry scale and innovation to serve communities, businesses and government renewable energy goals is advancing at a rapid pace. It is extremely exciting to be a part of this rapidly growing industry.

Nesbitt: I joined the military out of an intense desire to improve the quality of life of others on a global scale. When I completed my military service, that same drive led me to seek a career that expands global access to energy resources while accelerating the transition to a clean energy future.

What has surprised you most about the solar industry in the past 10 years?

Kenya: The biggest surprise for me was the rapid drop in prices and the increase in affordability of the systems. The renewable energy policies offered by government agencies to incentivize solar energy have been very effective in encouraging the market to go green. The increase in market demand for large systems has enabled the industry to take advantage of unprecedented economies of scale. This allows suppliers to deliver quality products quickly and effectively.

Nesbitt: I’m impressed with the innovation and policies that have quickly made solar panels and energy storage systems more affordable. This has increased access to energy resources for disadvantaged populations – in a way that supports environmental sustainability.

What are your solar predictions for the next 10 years?

Kenya: I believe that the increase in demand for EVs is starting to drive major advances in battery technology that will translate into improved reliability of distributed solar power generation. The ability to shift the power curve from solar to periods of demand previously unserviced by solar will revolutionize. Battery energy storage systems (BESS) will essentially be able to remove the peaks of solar energy and smooth out the current challenges of the duck curve on our transmission and distribution networks.

Nesbitt: I believe that emerging technologies such as blockchain, digital currencies and electric vehicles will lead to an unprecedented level of electrification worldwide – creating an incredible demand for sustainable and resilient networks and microgrids. Solar generation combined with energy storage will be critical to enable these technologies.

How did you/your company stand out in the past year?

Kenya: Core Development Group excels in green, commercial and industrial markets. The company has a proven track record of completing canopy, ground mounting and roofing systems for large and small businesses and non-profit organizations on time and on budget. We have been able to provide our customers with cost-effective systems through partnerships with some of the best names in the industry.

Nesbitt: Core Development Group is a fast-growing company whose actions demonstrate a clear commitment to diversity, cultivating talent and fostering a culture of open communication at all levels of employees. I am constantly impressed by the high level of morale and team cohesion.

How do you help improve the industry?

Kenya: I am committed to learning more about the industry and, where I can, provide proven military processes and strategies. This trip has been a humbling experience and I’ve been lucky enough to have a team like CDG to take me along.

Nesbitt: Right now, I’m in the early stages of learning as much as I can about the industry. That said, I believe I bring a unique problem-solving perspective as well as a strong work ethic with an emphasis on team building.

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