MEET OUR EXECUTIVES-Part 1

At Texas Solar, we have five executives who work in the office. They are a constant, strong presence and a major part of ensuring the smooth and successful operations of the company. Our executives are:

CEO — Mike Sardo
CFO — Jim Drought
Director of Production— Jim Coffee
Director of Business Development — Wade Turner
Director of Communications — Mark Buley

Each one has a unique story and background that adds depth to the culture here at Texas Solar. Below is a brief background of our CEO & CFO, and we will get to know Jim Coffee, Wade Turner, and Mark Buley in the next blog in our series.

CEO — Mike Sardo

Mike came to Texas Solar almost two years ago in the hopes of expanding and growing the company to new heights. He received a coaching degree with a minor in business from Southwest Texas University and started his first company, a cheerleading instruction business, before he graduated from college. After selling that company, he was involved in several other industries and businesses, including tree removal and landscaping, real estate development, ATM transaction processing, door and window replacements, and spent years actively investing in small businesses and the stock market. His most unique and fun experience, however, was being a cheerleader for the San Antonio Spurs Coyote Crew for a year.

As the CEO, Mike impacts all areas of the company. He works closely with finance, construction, permitting, and human resources. Daily communication is necessary with finance, as the information provided by that department is invaluable in his involvement with other areas of the company. The finance team provides him with the information he needs to run the company efficiently. While his background is sales oriented, he has not focused on business development. Creating new opportunities and processes for the permitting department has been a major part of his role. They have worked on streamlining the permitting process to make it more efficient and measurable. Working with the construction department has been a very unique experience for Mike. While he has consulted with construction companies in the past, the construction process at Texas Solar is unique and presents several fascinating challenges. Our construction teams are very geographically scattered, the projects are short in duration, and are residential, as opposed to commercial. However, Mike has learned to interact with this type of construction process in order to increase both efficiency and productivity. Finally, he works with human resources, which has had to overcome its own set of challenges. One very unique challenge they have faced is creating a plan to recruit good construction personnel in the middle of a construction boom. During the past 20 months, working with all of these departments, the Texas Solar team has increased from 5 employees to over 100.

A day in the life of the CEO is fluid, yet stable. Mike’s mindset is constant improvement. Because of this, his typical day to day structure varies. There will never be a point where he thinks, this is good enough.. Company objectives are reviewed every morning, along with daily tasks. His Executive Assistant, Jen, handles many of the daily tasks, such as emails, phone calls, and setting up meetings. This allows Mike to spend time with people to help with whatever project they are working on to move forward. These projects vary, from how to organize the warehouse to huge financial projects, but his goal is to help any area that needs assistance.

In this role, every person in the company is “on his team,” but each department requires his involvement in various ways. He works with the finance department from onboarding and forecasting, to bookkeeping, accounts receivable, then to production. During production, the survey and evaluation of job sites happens, design of the project occurs, the job is permitted, HOA approval is obtained. Then it passes to the construction department. In the construction phase, planning and procurement occur, crews are scheduled for install, and there are lots of moving parts, including further permitting, inspections, turning the system on, and ensuring the monitoring is up and running. Throughout these phases, Mike works with the department heads and ensures that the bottlenecks are minimized and addressed quickly.

He also works closely with human resources regarding recruiting. As the company is growing by leaps and bounds, he participates in many of the interviews. In addition, he spends time with the Director of Business Development, Wade Turner, and works closely to ensure that the technological side of Texas Solar is growing by working with Saikishore Raju, who is also working on developing a new tech platform for the company.

Three words that Mike would use to describe his work life are:
Intense, focused, and deliberate.

His biggest focus as the CEO at Texas Solar is to improve the production cycle. Making constant improvements decrease the time from fruition to completion, create satisfied customers, and strengthen relationships with sales teams and employees. Aside from last year’s Christmas party, one of his favorite times at Texas Solar is during the summer when his wife, Shannan, comes to the office and cooks breakfast for the employees. It brings a sense of family and cohesiveness to the company, which positively impacts all aspects of the business.

CFO — Jim Drought

Jim Drought is the Chief Financial Officer at Texas Solar. He was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and returned after he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He started his career as a financial analyst for the Fortune 100 company, Tesoro, where he forecasted, budgeted and reported directly to the CFO. A lifelong goal was to run his own business, so in 2007, he quit his job, bought a small company and proceeded to purchase and develop a few other businesses along the way. It is this background and experience that brought him to Texas Solar.

A day in the life of Jim is focused on financials. Upon arrival at the office, he checks account balances, checks sales, and updates the corporate model that forecasts out the yearly expectations. Throughout the workday, he works with sales partners to ensure that they are getting paid promptly and without any issues. He also works closely with lenders to ensure that any debts and obligations are paid promptly. When needed, he works with auditors as well.

One of the understated perks of his role with the company is that it extends beyond CFO duties, and he gets to assist with a number of different areas outside of his department. As Texas Solar has grown, he also worked in a marketing capacity and headed up the rebranding effort, including securing a new name (from Texas Solar Integrated to Texas Solar), a new domain name (txsolar.com), a new logo, and a new website. He also oversaw the new signage that was created for company vehicles. Additionally, he filmed and produced tutorial videos that can be found on Texas Solar’s website and YouTube pages. Before Saikishore came along, he was the go-to person for any technological issues. While these responsibilities alone keep him busy, when time permits, he is passionate about working on process improvements, such as enhancing the purchase order system that is in place.

There are many people within his team with whom he works daily. Margaret Elbert is the new controller who has a deep understanding of accounting. Ginger Jackson is an accountant and has had the longest tenure on the team. She has the most intimate, detailed knowledge of transactions with our sales companies. Bayleigh Cook is the sales company liaison who helps onboard projects, check payments, and handle any concerns that come in. Veronica Salvio handles the sales onboarding process to ensure that all new sales get processed in a timely fashion. Martin Arzola is the AP Clerk. He ensures that vendor invoices match the purchase orders.

Three words that describe Jim’s work life are: Demanding, inescapable, and rewarding.

His main focus is work and sometimes it can be all-consuming. A perpetual insomniac, he spends the majority of his waking hours — and too many hours he should be sleeping — thinking about or involved with work. Being the CFO, he is responsible for the company’s liquidity and financial wellbeing, so the pressure is always on. Prior to the ownership/management change, Texas Solar had limited borrowing capacity or credit-worthy financials; which made funding the explosive growth challenging. Fortunately, the company has not only persevered through these growing pains, but has made great strides: accessing greater capital, achieving a longer track record of positive financial results, and creating better terms with the vendors and sales companies. All these improvements have led to much smoother sailing.

Mike and Jim are significant pieces in the Texas Solar company. They both have integral parts to play in ensuring success and longevity. In the next blog, we will get to know a little more about Jim Coffee, Wade Turner, and Mark Buley.

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