In today’s interview we have Joseph Nash, co-founder of LMNdeavors Hydroponic and Solar Solutions.
| Can you please introduce yourself and maybe talk a little bit about your company?
My name is Joe Nash. I’m the co-founder, along with my wife, of LMNdeavors Hydroponic and Solar Solutions. I do custom Hydroponics locally in Orlando, so people can grow their own food; but I also work with the Orange County School System, educating kids on hydroponics.
As far as solar goes, I’m a solar broker, which is interesting because a lot of people in the Solar industry represent a company, and go sell their products; I represent many companies and get to leverage what they do best, depending on what you’re after.
I’ve got companies that specialize in large commercial projects, companies that have been in business for 30 years, that can cover various portions of the state… best of all, they’re all blue chip companies. So, most of what I do is leveraging my knowledge of the solar industry to help my customers get the best result.
LMNdeavors has been in business for almost five years now, and as for me, I started off in Corporate America. I was a certified fraud examiner for 25 years and then realized I didn’t want to do that until I retired.
I want to do something that’s part of the solution and wake up every morning with that thought in mind. I try to do as much good as I can for our environment, and treat people with love and respect.
| Were you connected to Solar in any way prior to starting this company?
No, I was not, in any way. When I started thinking about what I wanted to do, I’ve witnessed a lot of strange things in Florida; plants blooming when they shouldn’t be blooming, all kinds of crazy things happening to our environment. Once that realization hit me, that I’m witnessing these things in my own lifetime, I knew that something had to be done. I was being called to do something to help.
| Was it hard starting a company? You said you started with your wife. Did you have other people help you out?
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No, the biggest help to me has been my IT person Steve, which is also my cousin. He does a lot of my interviews, you can catch them on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/@joedoessolar).
So, I guess it’s a family operation, but the most help comes from my business partners and my customers. The solar installers I work with help make sure everything is done the way it should be and my customers help me because they basically tell me what they need, what they like and don’t like!
And I can tell you most people don’t like high pressure sales pitches. What I do is listen to people and give them what I think would be the best solution for their situation.
| So you are more of a solar consultant?
Yes, I would call it more of a broker, because most consultants are just representing the one company, and they answer to a sales manager.
I want to work for myself and not have to answer to anyone above me. I’m not going to try to make a sale I don’t feel good about. I don’t want to be a part of something just to drive your numbers. I just don’t roll that way.
When I decided to do this myself, I systematically eliminated everything that I didn’t like about the solar industry, particularly the fact that solar reps seldom knew more than you do, and they don’t tell you things that could really screw up your life in a bad way.
| What about the energy consumption analysis? Is that something you do, or do you have a team?
I don’t have a team. I’m solo. I trust myself more than anybody, next to my wife of course, who happens to be my CEO. When it comes to the way that most solar pitches are laid out, it’s like if you’re consuming 50 kilowatt hours a day, you need to produce 50 kilowatts. So, it’s going to take 40 solar panels to do that. Let’s slam them on your roof and be done with it.
The truth is, the energy equation is far more complex than just a bill. If I have an old AC that’s responsible for 20% of that bill, and I’m planning on upgrading it, now I’m going to overproduce. These are some of the factors that have to come into play when doing the final calculation.
But when you look at the typical way that solar business is done, it’s done with a rep that’s probably less than six months into it, who’s got a canned PowerPoint presentation. They’re told not to ask any questions or bring up anything that they can’t answer. They don’t have the acumen to really dissect what’s going on from an energy standpoint in the house, and see if there’s something that can be done from an appliance upgrade or an energy efficiency standpoint that you can leverage with some tax credits, for example. And that may ultimately be a more cost-effective solution for that customer than just straight solar.
For that reason, I have to have partners in the HVAC industry. I’ve got really good AC guys, plumbers for hybrid water heaters, etc. It’s taken a while to develop the partnerships with these people that I can trust, that I know that when I send them into a customer’s house, they’re going to represent me and themselves the way that I would expect.
| Was it hard getting your company up the ground when you are relatively new and unknown in the industry?
I’m still going through some growing pains and challenges. I just fired my SEO Company this morning. Being a business owner, one of the biggest challenges when you’re starting out is adjusting the cash flow, because some of these projects take a long time to get done, and the budgeting and investment decisions. But it’s been fun.
The biggest challenge was trying to find a way that I could operate in this industry, in a way that I felt good about, and eliminate all of the things I didn’t like. I’ve been taking a very systematic approach to that. Emotionally, I feel really good about where I’m at.
| What about the customers? How do they reach you? In what step of the process do you go in? I mean, someone comes and says, I want to do a solar system, and then you take over, or?
I get my business from all kinds of different places. I’ve got many neighbors who’ve gone solar through me and one of the companies I work with. So word of mouth is a big one for me. We also have an app called ‘Next Door’, I play around with it a little from time to time.
But a lot of customers find me through YouTube, as well! Because when people watch my videos and they go do more research, they find out I was telling the truth and they want to get in touch with me.
It’s just doing business the right way. It’s treating people with respect and dignity, caring and compassion. This is what’s, unfortunately, missing in a lot of business today, particularly the solar industry.
| What about your future plans? Do you plan on expanding or is this operation something you’re comfortable with right now?
I’m probably only going to do this for maybe another 10 years because I’d like to retire. I’m never going to refuse somebody that needs my help though. If somebody reaches out to me for help, I’m going to do whatever I can.
I could definitely handle some more business. I’ve got plenty of free time, as most of my consultations are almost all virtual these days. So, I’m in a good spot. I’m looking to reach out, expand my footprint, help more people and feel good about it.
| Can you tell me a little bit about the future of solar, in general? Are people getting more interested in going solar?
When it comes to solar in Florida, at least, there are some things that are bothering me… Politics influences a lot of things, and money influences a lot of things. There are some very large power companies that are really nervous about solar.
They’ve been trying to pass legislation to make it very cost-ineffective to go solar in Florida, which just hits a nerve, to be honest. Here we have the most abundant sunshine just about anywhere, and you’ve got a power company that says, “I’m going to make it cost prohibitive for you, but we’re going to keep burning coal.”
One good thing for solar is that our largest utility provider, Florida Power and Light just announced that they’re going to have three major price hikes this year. So, once June electric bills start coming in, and they’re 30% more than what they were last June, there’d be more people calling me.
| What about net metering?
That was part of the legislation that they tried to undo here in Florida. They’ve attempted to undo it from a legislative standpoint for a while. But net metering is the ticket, and the two biggest power providers do have net metering.
But people need to be careful as this is where they can get into trouble…
Matter of fact, I just did a YouTube video on that, ‘The five things you should know before going Solar in Florida.’ If a customer says, “well, there’s net metering in Florida,” it’s not everywhere in Florida, because there’s some small mom and pop providers that don’t do net metering, or you find out they’re only reimbursing you at 50% or 60% or 70%. That’s the biggest offset that you’re going to get.
| Is there something you would maybe advise them to pay attention to, when thinking about going solar? Maybe some tips you could give them?
Educate yourself. I must have at least 30 YouTube videos, and they’re all on different topics, five minutes long and easy to digest. How does a water heater fit into the whole energy consumption? How does solar work? How do batteries work? Just different topics that people that do research can easily get straight answers to.
But people also need to be careful with their research. One thing I realized, while doing research for net metering for example, is that the entire first page of Google was filled with solar lead generation companies’ websites, advertisements and what not. It must be driving people crazy… it drove me crazy going through all these!
This is one of the reasons I love recording short, straight-to-the point videos on Youtube.
| Is there something you would like to share maybe, something we didn’t cover in this interview?
The only thing I want to reiterate is that I am truly driven to help. I would much rather walk away from a project that I knew was likely to not result in what that customer was trying to achieve and leave them as a friend, than participate in something that I know is not going to work out for them.
Another thing, do your research. Look at the Better Business Bureau ratings. Look at the Google ratings. Make sure you dig up every bit of information you can about the company you intend to do business with. Do your homework and don’t rush into it.
Invest in solar, produce your own power cheaper than what you’re being charged so you aren’t subject to rate hikes. Going solar makes a lot of sense but only and you have somebody you trust to help you get there.