The following story features Matt Creamer, President of Surplus Solar Products based in Long Island, New York. Matt is an experienced solar equipment broker who specializes in excess stock. Connect with Matt on EnergyBin for help with locating replacement parts or clearing excess stock from your storage.
“Solar equipment brokering is like fishing,” Matt Creamer comments recalling his work at Surplus Solar Products. “It takes a lot of patience. I cast out multiple lines each day waiting for someone to jump on one of them. When someone latches on and orders a truckload of product, it’s a great feeling.”
Over the years, Matt has honed the skill of a fisherman’s patience as he worked alongside his father in the solar industry. Kevin Creamer started his company, Sunshine Plus Solar providing pool and hot water services to customers in 1982. When solar started to boom, he transitioned to solar electric residential and commercial installs.
“I guess you could say he’s one of the pioneers of the industry,” Matt remarks about his father.
The benefit of growing up with an in-house mentor has served Matt well. Like his father, he is hard-working, dedicated and humble. He’s passionate about helping his customers.
“I worked alongside my father doing installs for many years, which has given me perspective of being on the job site, what materials are needed and how to install the equipment.”
But Matt’s work has taken him in a different direction. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps as an installer, Matt has carved his own path in the solar industry. He noticed excess inventory left over from his father’s install jobs and wondered if he could resell it.
Starting out, he began listing the excess on Craigslist, EBay, Amazon and any other site that appeared to host potential buyers. At the time, he didn’t think much about the potential of brokering. He treated it more like a game to see if he could move the material.
For many humans, when we entertain new interests, we discover something about ourselves that we didn’t realize was there. Such was the case for Matt as he learned of his knack for connecting buyers and sellers.
When his game started to become a profitable venture, he decided to make it official. In May 2015, Matt incorporated Surplus Solar Products, a company dedicated to finding buyers the solar equipment they need when they need it.
Selling surplus solar equipment – A business opportunity
Surplus Solar Products has two warehouses, one in Long Island, New York and the other in Las Vegas, Nevada, which allows Matt to serve customer needs across the country. The two locations also make it easy for Matt to ship equipment to international customers via shipping ports on both coasts. Matt has done business throughout the Caribbean, Africa and South America, to name a few.
Inside Matt’s warehouses, you’ll find every kind of solar equipment from panels to inverters, mounting to other hardware components. Because Matt is constantly buying excess inventory from other brokers and installers, then selling to anyone from DIYers to large contractors, his inventory is constantly changing.
In his efforts to do right by his customers, he’s one of the few in the solar industry who will sell single panels and parts. Even if Matt does not have specific equipment in stock to meet a buyer’s need, he will do his best to find it.
“I will sell in any quantity. A lot of contractors come to me when they need a replacement of an old legacy panel.”
In the industry’s secondary market, demand is increasing every day for replacement parts as systems mature and maintenance services are required.
“It’s becoming more and more a main function of my business as customers seek to replace broken panels or panels that are no longer in production. Just the other day, I uploaded eleven pallets of miscellaneous panels for sale to the EnergyBin platform.”
Matt became a member of EnergyBin, the B2B solar equipment trading community, in October of 2018. His primary goal for joining the community was to connect to qualified buyers looking for legacy equipment.
“EnergyBin definitely helps to get my name out there. I recouped my annual membership fee in one sales transaction with a buyer who I wouldn’t have met without connecting on EnergyBin.”
Finding qualified buyers – they’re out there
Making meaningful connections to new buyers takes persistence. Matt’s a guy who always has his phone on – constantly connected – and available to others. His experience in reselling excess stock has led him to conclude that buyers are out there; you just have to find them.
“I feel like even the most unique model, one that hasn’t been in production for years, can be paired to a buyer. Someone out there will want to purchase it.”
To find buyers, you need to be ready at all times to engage with other people you encounter. Matt’s ‘always on-the-job’ lifestyle is not for everyone. But it is a valuable skill possessed by solar equipment brokers.
Several international buyers show interest in purchasing used panels from Surplus Solar Products. Matt is always on the lookout for used panels and equipment for these customers. When someone wants to sell decommissioned panels to him, he’ll usually do a site visit to test the product condition and efficiency prior to shipping them to his warehouse.
“When I meet with a solar company that has excess stock to sell, I tend to buy everything outright. I usually travel to the company’s location to inspect the product, meet the owner and build a relationship. By doing so, I can see first-hand what I’m actually getting and can oversee packaging and truck-loading as well.”
Having knowledge of shipping logistics is another esteemed skill of the solar equipment broker. Problem-solving skills also help to trouble-shoot logistical nightmares.
Earning a profit from excess stock
Dealing in excess stock is different from traditional sourcing, in which manufacturers supply distributors, and installers place orders from their primary vendors. Sourcing excess stock is not subject to the same supply chain. Rather, brokers will purchase from anyone who has valuable products to sell.
“A few years back, I bought a truckload of panels from a canceled project. The panels were sitting outside for over a year. When it came time to unload the truck, it was a mess. The wood pallets the panels sat on were dilapidated and rotting. It took my team five hours to unload this truck.”
Why bother with such maddening situations? Matt says at the end of the day, it’s about seeing the opportunity where others only see a problem. Most people would take one look at those old panels and walk away without a second thought. But Matt saw value in the product. He found a buyer for the used panels, and sold them for a profit.
But it all boils down to patience. Matt cautions those interested in pursuing solar equipment brokering as a career path that it takes time and commitment.
“Spend quality time building relationships and do right by everyone you work with. That’s how you’ll earn their trust. There’s a lot of good people in this industry and meaningful relationships to be made.”
A special thanks…
|To Matt Creamer for sharing about your solar equipment brokering experience and company, Surplus Solar Products.|
Want to learn more about solar equipment brokering?
Check out this article to see how brokers like Matt Creamer help solar companies sell their excess stock.