SunLink is celebrating 10 years advancing solar power adoption, commemorating the unveiling of the first SunLink roof mount system at the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) show in Portland, OR in July 2004. LinkUp sat down with SunLink founder John Eastwood for a trip down memory lane, reflecting on the company’s inception, the last decade and what the future might hold.
“My company, Eastwood Energy, began to shift its original focus from wind and hydroelectric energy development back in 2002. Our first solar installation was at a storage facility in Richmond, California,” recalls John. “It was a 140 kW project, and we procured more than 900 Sharp modules and the inverters and brought on an electrical contracting partner to complete the installation. All that was left was to buy the mounting system. I reached out to the leading racking manufacturer at the time, only to learn that in order to complete the installation, each module would require a tie-down to the roof – or drilling more than 900 holes in the roof. That’s when inspiration struck. I knew I could create a better solution myself, so that’s exactly what we set out to do. We completed the Richmond installation with our own proprietary mounting system.”
Having identified a need in the market for superior racking technology, and learned key lessons about how to build a more roof-friendly system from the Richmond project experience, Eastwood Energy turned its focus full-time to manufacturing a new roof-mount solution – and that system was named SunLink at the suggestion of an employee. Ultimately the name was such a good fit for the products that the company was developing that it soon replaced Eastwood Energy as the name for the company.
When asked how the industry has changed since those early days, John says, “Every stakeholder in the solar industry has become much more sophisticated, including manufacturers, customers, engineers and permitting officials. When SunLink was founded, we were one of a handful of pioneers in a wild-west marketplace. There were few industry standards in terms of design or performance requirements and companies were designing and installing very inconsistently. Since then, the sector has matured considerably which has made systems safer, less expensive and easier to install. We certainly take pride in having helped move the industry forward. I’d say the combination of a meaningful investment in R&D from day one, the creativity and commitment of a very talented team, and collaborative relationships with our installer customers have collectively served as a catalyst for our own advancements and, by extension, those of the industry.”
The original SunLink system has of course been retired and replaced by Precision, Precision-Modular and Core RMS and the company has introduced two ground mount products in Large-Scale GMS and Ballasted GMS, but one thing that hasn’t changed over the last decade is that SunLink’s products remain among the most trusted in North America, suitable for installation in even the most challenging global environments.
“A few years ago, we introduced a new tagline: install confidence. If I had to articulate what our 10 year anniversary should mean to our customers, I believe that phrase sums it up very well. Our longevity, proven track record and experience with virtually every type of installation situation provide an unrivaled degree of reassurance to our customers. Customers know that they can trust our products and our expertise, and that we aren’t going anywhere. Our first ten years are only the start.”