For the first three years of my professional life, I served as a submarine officer aboard the USS Georgia, off the Pacific Coast. If you want to know what the first two years of service on a ballistic missile submarine are like, just imagine locking yourself in a room slightly larger than a full bathroom with three people you hardly know, at least at first. Then imagine doing that for six hours at a time, with 12 hours off, repeating every 18 hours for 88 days straight. (The third year is slightly better: lock yourself in a slightly larger room, add five more people, and take a day off every other week.)

The enormity of the responsibility bestowed upon a submarine officer was lost on me as a twenty-something. The grueling days, and the mental fortitude to endure them, were not. I am proud to have served. I’ll never forget the experiences, the people, or the last time I stepped back onto dry land upon completion of my final patrol.

My experience in the U.S. Military shaped who I am as a leader. I started working in the tech industry 20 years ago, and transitioned to the solar industry in 2013. The lessons and habits I picked up as a junior officer influence me to this day. Expect what you inspect. A clean boat is a safe boat. These words are part of what I thought was submarine jargon. Turns out they are just as relevant in keeping our teammates safe in our San Jose factory as they are in keeping sailors safe on the USS Georgia. I do my rounds at the factory just as I did on the submarine. Looking in both obvious and not-obvious places for both improvement and signs of trouble. 

The location of our next facility in Georgetown, Texas—which, upon completion, will be the largest solar roofing production facility in the world—was chosen in no small part due to its proximity to Fort Hood. The skills our veterans learned in the military—teamwork, discipline, attention to detail—will be of huge benefit to GAF Energy. Everyday soldiers complete their service obligations. We look forward to hiring those interested to be part of our team.

A desire to amplify innovative solutions to our nation’s energy security guides my current work. I’m doing this now by focusing on deploying the best integrated solar roof in the U.S. with Timberline Solar, which is transforming the roofing and solar markets. The team at GAF Energy has designed the first building-integrated solar product to meet the 2022 standards for both roofing and solar—effectively creating a roof that generates clean, renewable electricity. That is a huge win for Americans, our communities, and the planet.

In 2019, when we said we were going to build a solar manufacturing and R&D facility in Silicon Valley, many people I talked to in our industry thought we were crazy. When we said we were going to launch the world’s first nailable solar shingle and a true solar roof, lots of folks weren’t sure what we were talking about or dismissed us. Then, earlier this year in January 2022, we debuted our technology to much fanfare from the press, roofers, and energy industry players and racked up awards ranging from technical to practical. People started to realize that maybe we were on to something—and now we’re active in various states across the country and partnering with hundreds of local roofers. 

Today, I can say proudly that the demand for our product has proven so strong, and our execution so effective, that we’re expanding rapidly. I am immensely proud of the jobs our two facilities—in San Jose, California and Georgetown, Texas—offer now and in the future to local communities, the small business solar roofing industry, and clean energy adoption across the U.S.

A core theme at GAF Energy is that there’s no better time to go solar than when you get a new roof. The efficiencies of project management, sales, marketing, and supply chain are amazing, and they allow a homeowner to get a fully roof-integrated, high-quality, durable solar system at a price comparable to that of a new roof with a rack-mounted solar system added afterward.

As I reflect on my time in the Military and how it shaped my perception of leading a high-achieving group, I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishments of the GAF Energy team this year and its continued growth in years to come. We focus on our customers, are unafraid to take the risks needed to drive innovation, and powerfully get the work done. The opportunity before us is tremendous, and I know we are well-equipped for the task of driving energy from every roof. More to come in 2023.