Getting By With a Little ‘Help’ From Solar Friends
In the famous play Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare questions, “What’s in a name?”
Well, when it comes to a company, the name can say it all, which is why Dale Domen made sure he took great care when it came time to pick out the perfect moniker for his solar service business.
“It’s all in the name,” said Domen, president of Solar Help Hawaii LLC.
“And the key is the ‘Help,'” he added. “I wanted ‘Help’ to be in it to give people the idea that we’re not just here to sell new systems; we’re here to help people who need help with systems installed by someone else too.”
Domen first realized there was a huge gap in the solar service industry when he was working at solar panel manufacturer and wholesaler R&R Solar Supply more than 20 years ago.
“In 1990 I started in the solar industry at R&R … and as we began wholesaling equipment, a lot of homeowners who already had solar systems would come in to purchase parts to repair their systems. After the transaction, they would ask if I knew anyone who could install it for them,” Domen recalled.
“Because the industry is fairly new, there’s really no training or schooling for (solar servicing),” he continued. “Some companies outsource or subcon-tract the installations to other companies, some do it in-house and have installation crews, but a service department is something that most are lacking. It takes more skill to fix an old system than to install a new one. That, together with the fact that there is more profit in new installations causes a lot of companies not to have a good service department.
“On Oahu, out of the many companies in the industry, there are only a handful of solar contractors who actually do service and have someone who can successfully troubleshoot problems with an existing system.”
Because Domen had learned first-hand all sides of the solar industry — from manufacturing solar panels to their distribution and installation — he did have the know-how in these technical matters, and soon he found himself offering his assistance to customers-in-need after-hours.
“I would feel bad for (the homeowners) because they would all say the same thing — they would try to call companies to service or repair their system and were told that (the companies) don’t do repairs, or after making an appointment no one would show up,” Domen explained. “They worked with a lot of contractors or companies that wanted to sell the new product, but when it came to little repairs, no one wanted to deal with it.”
Eventually his side job took over as a full-time occupation, and in 2007 Domen founded Solar Help Hawaii. In addition to being on-call to help customers with their existing solar system needs, the company installs brand-new solar hot water systems, solar exhaust fans, photovoltaic (PV) systems, swimming pool heating systems and PV pool pumps.
“Because of my distribution background,” Domen added, “it differentiates us from our competitors. Dealing with multiple brands, we have the background knowledge of each component’s pros, cons, warranty issues and history. I was kind of able to see what products did well and which ones didn’t, so when we sell our products now, it helps because we combine system packages that are made to withstand the test of time and have the best warranties on the market.”
And that is Domen’s main objective: that Solar Help Hawaii lives up to its name by providing clients the highest standards of service and professionalism, whether it be saving money on their electric bill or offering a solution to an existing solar system problem.
“I want to make sure that our company will always try to help customers and take responsibility to do repair and service work — doing the smaller stuff that may not have great profit but is so meaningful for consumers who need it,” Domen said.
“Helping is our mission, not just selling new systems.”
For more information about Solar Help Hawaii or to schedule a free consultation, call 548-HELP (548-4357) or visit www.solarhelphawaii.com.