A lot can change in the industry in 40 years, and Bill Gallagher has seen it all.
When Bill Gallagher first started in the solar power business, he manufactured his own panels out of wooden boxes, copper plates and black paint. “Not knowing any better, we thought that was a good idea,” he said.
Forty years later, Gallagher is in a suit a tie in his storefront in Holly Hill, president and CEO of Solar-Fit, a company that has 6,000 customers in Palm Coast alone. Now, the company installs solar panels in homes and businesses, helping people save substantial money on their power bills. For example, Home Care Pharmacy, in Palm Coast, brought their power bill down from almost $500 to about $8 per month. The cost of the solar installation was financed and paid for through the savings over the course of about three years, not costing the pharmacy a dime.
From student to partner with ERAU
After growing up in the Adirondacks and seeing how pollution impacted the environment — acid rain defoliated the trees, and trout died in the rivers — Gallagher got interested in renewable energy. “To me, it wasn’t so much about climate change,” he said, “it was about the pollution.”
Solar power was part of the solution, he decided. After moving to Florida in 1970 to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Gallagher began working in the solar industry.
But he always stayed closed to ERAU. He speaks to engineering classes and encourages young entrepreneurs there. In 2012, a new partnership helped Solar-Fit benefit a whole community in Haiti.
The project used solar energy to supply power to schools and also to wells and pumps to provide clean water to communities that were ravaged by an earthquake in Haiti. Gallagher said ERAU made the project happen, but his own involvement and donations of supplies led Solar-Fit being selected as one of two winners at the 2015 Brian D. Robertson Solar Schools Memorial Fund Awards, which will be given at the Top Solar Contractors Gala on Sept. 14, in Anaheim, California.
Gallagher said Dr. Marc Compere, from Embry-Riddle was instrumental in making the project happen. “He takes the students over there and helps them,” Gallagher said. “This is all gratis, free stuff. They’ve been going for three years.”
Also last month, Solar-Fit was recognized by Solar Power World for the third-consecutive year as one of the premier solar contractors in America.
Visit solar-fit.com or call 441-2299.
Solar-Fit employs 25 people, include these stand-outs:
Kim Brooks, business manager
Gloria Edison, sales manager
Scott Snyder, operations manager
Chany Oeung, office manager
Jeff Brooks, service manager