In today’s volatile and fast-paced industry, many solar companies are partnering with solar equipment brokers to oversee their buy-sell needs. Because brokers are well connected to the global secondary market, they are able to move new and used product quickly.
Q. What does it take to be a successful solar equipment broker?
To answer this question, we spent some time with EnergyBin member, Sabena Suri, CEO of Golden Gate Solar Tech.
With more than 15 years’ experience in brokering, Sabena knows what it takes. She started her company in 2003 and is committed to building a sustainable future for our global community.
In Sabena’s mind, Golden Gate Solar Tech’s niche resides in operational excellence and product leadership, which has led to a business model rooted in multinational offices servicing emerging markets and developing nations around the world.
Working with each customer’s unique needs, Sabena’s team tailors the most efficient and economical procurement solutions. They take into consideration such factors as project location, terrain condition, land size, land price, governmental subsidies and power density.
Over the years, Sabena has partnered on residential, commercial and municipal projects. If you need modules, Golden Gate Solar Tech can help.
EnergyBin: The solar industry is a competitive landscape. What is it about your character that gives your company a unique flair?
I am basically a teacher at heart. I have many years of teaching experience behind me. Maybe that’s where my patience comes from!
We have been in the solar industry for 15 years and hope to last another 15! We started with brokering solar raw material. When that market crashed in 2008, we moved to the equipment side.
The solar industry is amazing, and I have developed life-long relationships with both my clients and suppliers.
EnergyBin: What made you decide to get into solar equipment brokering?
I got into brokering for the luxury of owning my own company. I like that I can make my own decisions and be responsible for the same, which is not always pretty!
That was a very important factor to help me decide to do this. I can be flexible with my time schedule and do stuff I enjoy, like Zumba 😊. Every day brings new challenges and situations.
My work gives me lots of opportunities to do my best to please my clients.
EnergyBin: Tell us more about your customers.
I work with many different kinds of companies, including installers, EPCs, and developers – really anyone and everyone who needs modules.
My customers are located all over the U.S. as well as international. There are no geographic barriers that prevent me from selling.
EnergyBin: Who would you say is your ideal customer?
For me, the ideal customer is someone who’s looking for good deals and is willing to look at various options. In other words, it’s someone who is not stuck on a particular brand, unless of course it is necessary to do so.
EnergyBin: Solar companies often ask us why they should partner with a broker. They aren’t always aware of the value a broker brings to the table. How would you respond to their inquiry?
Partnering with a broker can open up many opportunities that traditional vendors can’t provide. Because I work with a variety of manufacturers and suppliers, I can offer many different scenarios to my customers. They continually have something to pick from.
Brokers are always in the loop with liquidation deals, excess inventory, etc. that a traditional supplier has no access to.
EnergyBin: Sounds like brokers have the inside scoop on the secondary market, which provides an alternative sourcing option for solar companies. How have you seen this scenario play out for a customer of yours?
Well, a solar panel manufacturer was going out of business, and they wanted to get rid of their last MW of panels.
At the same time, I had a customer looking to purchase that size lot. I was able to help the buyer get a good deal and also help the seller clear out his warehouse.
EnergyBin: That really sums up what brokering is in a nutshell. How do you find opportunities like these?
LinkedIn has been a good resource. As a brand-new member of EnergyBin, I’m hoping to connect with others on the network as well. Attending trade shows also helps.
EnergyBin: You really seem to have a firm grasp on what it means to be a successful broker. From your perspective, what are the top skills needed for success?
The most important skill is that you have to be a “people” person. One comes across clients with different personalities all the time. It’s important to be patient and understanding.
Know that these clients are trusting you with a vital component of THEIR business. They are placing their trust in you to procure equipment for their installs.
EnergyBin: Upholding customers’ trust is so important. What would you say to someone who might be thinking about brokering as a career move?
It’s not for everyone, especially not for people who have a short temper.
Thank you, Sabena, for your insights on solar equipment brokering and the opportunity to learn more about your company, Golden Gate Solar Tech.
Want to learn more about solar equipment brokering?
Check out this article to see how brokers help solar companies sell excess stock.
If you’re in the same position as Golden Gate Solar Tech’s customer, who needed to clear out modules from his warehouse, consider partnering with a broker to sell your equipment in the secondary market. Read More…