Q&A with Brett Bouchy, CEO of Temecula based solar energy leader — Freedom Forever
Brett Bouchy is the CEO of Freedom Forever, based in Temecula, California. He has had a successful career as a private equity leader has a storied track record in cultivating businesses across a diverse set of industries. He was drawn to the solar market due to his passion for businesses that sit at the intersection between a social good and a smart investment. He has helped grow Freedom Forever into one of America’s fastest growing businesses through a commitment to a unique vision for renewable companies – one driven by unparalleled service, partnership with homeowners and a passion for green energy solutions.
You have now been listed in the Inc 5000 for two years running – what is your advice on how to sustain such a high rate of growth?
When we began Freedom Forever, we knew we wanted to be a mission driven company – and that mission was to make sure that clean, reliable solar energy was available to as many homeowners as possible. We knew that meant we would need to grow – and grow quickly. But to do that meant ensuring we have the right team in place and that’s what really makes our company stand out.
We’ve made sure to put together a smart, diverse team of people from a number of backgrounds who share a similar set of values – a dedication to delivering the very best service possible to our customers, to thinking critically about our industry and a commitment to building not just a great company, but a better, cleaner future.
The other thing that has helped us sustain our rapid growth is making smart choices about where to position ourselves. Solar energy is taking off in a big way – but it’s not distributed equally around the country. Some markets, like here in California, are very mature with a deep competitive landscape, but others are just beginning to understand the benefits of solar and we know that those are ripe targets for growth. This is why we made the choice, for instance, to open an office in Chicago, because Illinois has created great incentives for solar energy but homeowners have only begun to embrace it there.
Why makes home solar energy an exciting industry to be in these days?
One thing is clear – we absolutely need to move away from fossil fuels and solar energy is going to be a major part of that equation. In states like California, where we have set ambitious clean energy targets and begun mandating things like solar panels on all new construction, we’re getting a preview of what the next decade and beyond will look like if we commit to a clean energy future and it means there’s nothing but opportunity for smart players in the solar industry.
But beyond the environmental benefits, we’re seeing homeowners realize that there’s a practical, economic benefit to solar energy as systems become more affordable and they’re able to cut their spending on power significantly while adding huge value to their homes.
What makes Temecula a great home for a company like Freedom Forever?
California has positioned itself as the vanguard for the renewable energy movement with forward-thinking policies and bold commitments that set an example for the rest of the world on what renewable energy can look like – and Temecula gives us a chance to be in the very heart of the most exciting solar energy community in the country. With access to major cities and talent pools that understand and have a passion for not just solar energy but who come from diverse industries including technology, construction, engineering, and even the arts that make sure we’re assembling the creative, dedicated team that we need to fuel our growth.
What are your plans for the next year and beyond?
We are committed to becoming the country’s leading home solar energy installer and are confident we are on that path. In the past year we’ve expanded to Colorado and Illinois and we expect that we’ll be in several more states by this time next year. We also plan to keep innovating on what we offer to homeowners, with financing options that meet them where they are, maintenance and support plans that ensure they’re confident in their solar energy investment and new technology that makes solar more attractive and more affordable.
What is Freedom Forever doing differently than the rest of the home solar industry that has led to their growth?
We saw that the home solar industry was not fully living up to its potential and in many cases, there were installers who provided poor support, sold homeowners on plans that were not in their best interest, or used components that were subpar and that put a sour taste in the mouth of many early adopters of solar energy. We knew that there needed to be a better way – not just because we knew it would lead to business success if we could crack that formula but because convincing homeowners that solar was worth the investment and improving its reputation would go a long way towards breaking our ties to fossil fuels.
We were one of the first companies, for instance, that began pushing ownership of a home solar system through financing as opposed to leasing your system through what our industry calls a “Power Purchase Agreement” or PPA. While in some cases a PPA makes sense, for many it’s not a great deal because you do not own the system and cannot take advantage of many of its benefits including certain tax incentives. Now, we’re seeing the industry turn away from PPAs, but we were really out in front of that movement.
Similarly, we wanted to make sure that homeowners got the value they were promised, so we offer a unique 25 year production guarantee on our systems – that means that not only will we do all of the maintenance needed for the life of a solar system, we will also reimburse homeowners for power they need to pull from the grid if their system fails or needs repair. This means homeowners can be confident that they will save money on power, no matter what happens.
It’s this kind of commitment to service that has set us apart helped us grow by reputation in the markets we’ve entered.
About Freedom Forever
Freedom Forever is focused on residential solar installations that deliver best-in-class Engineering, Procurement, and Construction for its dealer network. Since 2011, Freedom Forever has enabled its dealer network to succeed with a premium offering and aggressive pricing flexibility. For more information, please visit https://freedomforever.com.