Founder and President of Robco Electric, Rob Kowalczik, recently spoke on the Best Company Podcast about his solar-industry journey and how his company’s strong, internal culture contributes to the business’s overall growth and success.
Rob explained that he started his career working for a contractor in order to pay off the student debt he had accumulated from college. Before long, he was able to get the experience and opportunity he needed to run commercial projects on his own.
Rob's next step was to get his journeyman’s license. Three years after he got that license, he was able to secure his master’s license and contractor’s license and ended up starting his own business at the age of 26.
Rob said his father and his brother were his first employees who helped him get his business up and running, and his company experienced fast growth while he had a young family.
“Small commercial projects started to turn into bigger ones, and I'm hiring employees. I'm having this exponential growth and a lot of hours, a lot of dedication, and a lot of support from Kim (Rob's wife). At this time, we've got two young boys, a newborn (and) a three-year-old, and a lot of stuff going on.”
In 2008, due to the recession, Rob decided to shift his company’s focus to the solar industry. He gathered employees and made a move to get the certifications they would need in order to start providing solar installations.
“I took 10 guys and I went and got them all certified and got to know the two instructors Bruce and Jeremy. And, when we're all done, I went up to them and I said, ‘Hey, I want the two of you to come and run my solar division. I don’t know a lot about solar, but you guys really do and you're really passionate about it and I think we would be a good fit together.’
So they came aboard and we started to diversify Robco Electric…I would say it was truly before solar was really even popular and the solar vision really started to take off.”
After Rob’s company transitioned to solar, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission passed legislation that made it difficult for solar companies to operate. Rob said that he was worried about having to lay people off and decided to take action, which ended up being a success.
“I went to Carson City and I talked to the legislators. We started a little solar coalition and we brought back solar. You'll see on our website that there's a picture of me shaking Governor Sandoval, at the time, shaking his hand. That handshake and what he did for us was amazing.”
Rob mentioned that his company’s culture plays a key role in Robco’s continual success and growth.
“So, the culture that we have here is (to) overcommunicate, try to be overcaring, be compassionate, listen, and I don't tolerate negativity. We can talk about it, but there's always a positive approach to even the worst possible things that can happen. It's really, truly about looking at things differently and not pointing out the negative in a situation, but really embracing the positive.”
Rob also explained that he never wanted to pressure customers during the sales process.
“What I don't like about certain businesses is the high-pressure sales approach. They want a sale so bad that they almost box you in, and you almost have to be guarded and push them back. So, what I told my team is, I said, ‘When we're going to go and promote solar, we're going to do it just like Bruce and Jeremy did when they were educating me about solar.'”
He mentioned that Robco is able to focus on providing a low-pressure, educational approach to consumers because of the culture he has built with his employees.
“Out in Nevada, solar really, truly sells itself. So, if you go in and you just educate people and talk to people, just like you and I are having a conversation, and let them decide if solar is right for them. You're just there to present the facts and to be honest, and don't be a high-pressure salesperson, be an educator, and, if they are happy with a $400-a-month power bill versus an $18-a-month power bill, that's okay."
He said that his company’s focus is to treat his customers well because of how long they will be interacting with him and his team over the course of their system’s lifespan.
“If people really, truly want to help the environment, put solar on their home, make the investment now in today's money, the product is warranted for 25 years, and we're going have a 25-year relationship with these people. Treat them golden and then they'll treat you golden. That's really what it boils down to.”
When Todd asked Rob what makes Robco unique, he said that his company tries to support potential customers, even if they choose to use a different solar company.
“We communicate to our potential customers that we're still here for you, even if you don't choose to utilize (us).
If you decide that there's a better company out there that you trust with putting solar on your home, we encourage (you) to do that. We've seen so many companies come through the Nevada markets, come and go, put solar on, and don't do a really good job. And then they leave the market.
Now, these people have possible issues with their solar that we tell them to give us a call. We'll be here for you. We've been here for 25 years, and we're not going anywhere. And even if you don't utilize us, we're gonna be here because we want solar to be a positive experience for everybody here in Nevada.”
He also explained that Robco is involved in community outreach, which is something he’s excited about.
“Robco’s community outreach really is exciting. It's great to get out to the community and get involved from blood drives that we sponsor, educational Q&As with the Nevada State Contractors Board, HOA, community events, and local non-profits.”
Rob Kowalczik is the Founder and President of Robco Electric Inc., an electrical contracting company based in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rob was raised in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and attended the University of North Dakota. He is immensely proud that Robco Electric has an unlimited contractor’s license and has been in business for over 25 years.
This past year Rob became a grandfather of two boys, James and Kayden. He and his wife, Kim, both enjoy scuba diving and are Certified Padi Divemasters.
About Robco Electric
Robco Electric is a family-run business that has built a strong reputation in Las Vegas for on-time, on-budget solar projects. The company is fully licensed in the state of Nevada and has completed over 1,000 solar installs in the Las Vegas area.
Robco Electric provides both residential and commercial solar and strives to provide top-tier customer service.