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Youth in Re-volt

cov3 solarSanta Cruz Skateboards’ parent company NHS is part of a growing solar trend

Is solar getting cooler? Dan Sullivan, who leads business development at Santa Cruz-based company Sandbar Solar certainly thinks so, as he sees more and more youth-driven businesses adopt it. In this area, in particular, he says, a new generation of companies is going solar.

The highest-profile of these converts is NHS, parent company of Santa Cruz Skateboards, Independent Trucks and numerous other brands, and one of the skating world’s foremost tastemakers. NHS is in the final stages of a nine-month partnership with Sandbar Solar to transition their manufacturing facility and offices in the Seabright Cannery to solar.

“In the past year, as the federal tax benefit is due to expire and reduce in 2016, landlords in the city and all around California are trying to jump on board with solar right away,” says Sullivan. “We’ve gotten potential bids with other very large, youthful organizations here in Santa Cruz that we’re working on now.”

NHS’ new 250-kilowatt solar system consists of 782 American-made solar modules that will offset 86 percent of the electricity used, translating into a 99 percent reduction in utility bills. But the move to solar is not just good for business, it’s also aligned with NHS’s focus on being an innovative company.

“It just kind of jibes with our company culture,” says Caylin Tardif, CFO at NHS. “We’re a Santa Cruz-based company and everyone’s pretty concerned with the environment. We’re trying to be a responsible business and hoping other businesses in the area do the same.”

When NHS started the process, they spoke with several solar companies, says Tardif, but went with Sandbar Solar because of its strong reputation and experience in the community. Sandbar has installed solar systems on commercial properties throughout the county including the New Bohemia Brewing Company, Plantronics, multiple area schools, the Westside Safeway, and the Graham Hill Water Treatment Plant.

NHS’ neighbor, Verve Coffee Roasters, is also getting in on the solar action. As they share a roof and some of the same meters with NHS, they’re partnering with them on the solar project, which is being described as a win-win for everyone involved. In a statement, Sandbar founder Scott Laskey expressed pride at being selected by “such an iconic company” as NHS, and Tardif has nothing but good things to say about working with Sandbar, the transition to solar, and the impact it will have on business.

“It’s good for morale and it’s good to be giving back and doing your part,” he says. “I think when companies get in there and start running the numbers and doing the math, they’ll see that it’s cost effective for their business as well.”


PHOTO: An aerial view of the 782 solar modules installed on the top of skate company NHS’ headquarters.

Contributor at Good Times |

Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on community, collaboration, the future of work and music. She's a regular contributor to Shareable and her writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including Yes! Magazine, No Depression, UTNE Reader, Mother Jones and Launchable Mag. More info: catjohnson.co. Follow her on Twitter at @CatJohnson.

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