Watt's the Word - An Electrical Industry Podcast

Sustainability and the Electrician with Gursh Bal and Kai Fahrion

December 13, 2021 Gursh Bal and Kai Fahrion Episode 9
Sustainability and the Electrician with Gursh Bal and Kai Fahrion
Watt's the Word - An Electrical Industry Podcast
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Watt's the Word - An Electrical Industry Podcast
Sustainability and the Electrician with Gursh Bal and Kai Fahrion
Dec 13, 2021 Episode 9
Gursh Bal and Kai Fahrion

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Kai Fahrion and Gursh Bal met as electrical apprentices, quickly became friends and are now business partners.  The Co-CEO's of Virtuoso Energy are very passionate about environmental sustainability, and that is clear as we discuss the building of their business. We chat about solar PV, electric vehicle charging, green energy rebates and the roles of electricians moving forward during the "Just Transition" movement.  

We can also report that Virtuoso Energy has some ambitious plans which include a name change, rebranding and adding more employees! Listen to this episode as we talk about the future vision of the company and stay tuned for more information early in the new year.

Support the Show.

Connect with us on Instagram or Facebook - @wattsthewordpodcast

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Kai Fahrion and Gursh Bal met as electrical apprentices, quickly became friends and are now business partners.  The Co-CEO's of Virtuoso Energy are very passionate about environmental sustainability, and that is clear as we discuss the building of their business. We chat about solar PV, electric vehicle charging, green energy rebates and the roles of electricians moving forward during the "Just Transition" movement.  

We can also report that Virtuoso Energy has some ambitious plans which include a name change, rebranding and adding more employees! Listen to this episode as we talk about the future vision of the company and stay tuned for more information early in the new year.

Support the Show.

Connect with us on Instagram or Facebook - @wattsthewordpodcast

Zack Hartle:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Watt's the word and electrical industry Podcast. I'm Zack Hartle, and I'm joined as always by my co host, Jason Cox. We're here to have relevant conversations with members of the electrical industry here in Canada. We've got a really great show today, we're going to be sitting down with Kai Fahrion and and Gursh Bal of virtuoso energy, talking about their vision for a sustainable electrical future, and the role that electricians are going to play in that future as well as kind of where how they got to where they are today in their business virtuoso energy. So with that, let's jump into the episode and take a listen.

Jason Cox:

Today on what's the word we're talking with virtual so energy, we have Gursh Bal and Kai Fahrion. Welcome to the show, guys.

Gursh Bal:

Yeah, thanks for having us.

Kai Fahrion:

Thanks for having us.

Jason Cox:

So real quick, gentlemen, I'm interested how you both decided to get into the electrical trade. So give me just a quick background of how you guys decided to become electricians initially, before business owners, that would be great.

Gursh Bal:

Okay, if you want to kick things off, and the place to start?

Kai Fahrion:

Yeah, for sure. My electrical journey started back in 2011. One of my big reasons was actually I had a choice between plumber and electrician, I come from a background of five generations of plumbers that then turned into engineers. And so I want to break that I ended up going into the electrical side of things. And it was something that I really liked. It was something that maybe allowed me to work with my hands. A big part of the job itself was actually being able to build things, see things come together and see complex systems as well. So tied into a lot of stuff that I like doing that to date on a day to day. And then from there, that kind of led us into, we'll talk about it more afterwards, but more into kind of the virtual suicide and building the company itself, and assist in the sustainability space, the lessons we learned from the doctoral degree along the way.

Gursh Bal:

My mind isn't necessarily as deep rooted as Kai, but when, when I was a younger individual, I initially started off going in the direction of computer engineering. And I quickly discovered that it wasn't something that I was pretty passionate about. At that time, the person I was with who's my wife now, was really driving me to be a better person, her and I were doing a lot of humanitarian work together. So you know, it's been spending personal time going out and helping helping individuals who were less, I guess, more marginalized, and it didn't have the same opportunities that we did. So we quickly came to the agreement that as, as a partnership we want in the long run, we wanted to make sure that we were, you know, retiring at a reasonable age in which the skills that we gained throughout our youth would be utilized in a beneficial manner. So we went through a little bit of an exercise to determine what we would figure what we figured at the time would be the most valuable skill to have from a humanitarian perspective in developing nations. So I went down, like would it be good if I was a carpenter? And would it be good if I was a welder, or and then eventually, we ended up landing on the fact that being an electrician would be the best way to go be and furthermore discovered that it's one of the keys to overcoming poverty. So it was an interesting exercise to my wife that I went through. And at that time, I was living in Edmonton. I packed everything up, moved down to Calgary and went through the apprenticeship program. I said

Jason Cox:

Gursh, I've heard a lot of people over the years tell me their journey until electrical and I've never heard one like that before what so what a noble foresight so I commend you on that and Chi man to be able to break away from that plumbing, family background and get into electrical. I kind of laugh about that, because as you guys know, there's always that ribbing between the electricians and the plumbers. So in all those generations, what a what a great introduction to to our podcast this week. Thanks for that guys.

Zack Hartle:

That's a good I don't know a little bit of a different way into the trade obviously there came a point where you guys ran into each other right neither of your entries into the trade war with each other. So I mean, now you guys are both co CEOs correct me if I'm wrong, virtuoso energy. So how did that come to be?

Gursh Bal:

This is a pretty funny story. So the going further into our roots kinda you both come from like, I guess we're where people are the earth we have like very diverse cultural backgrounds. I personally come from like an English Indian roots, and then chi is Swiss German, and it provides a lot of diversity in that the reason why that's important to note is being in Alberta and the trades one of the luxuries is having a nice truck. But when we both pulled up to a sulfur facility just east of Calgary, we both happened to be there. Driving like compact European cars, and everybody else had like raptors and nice lifted trucks. And Kai was at, I think at that time was a fourth year, fourth year electrician, and I was a third year, a third year apprentice and walked into the general area doing the tailgate meeting, and the superintendent of a site in the form and basically said, Akers, you're new to this, I want you to go over to Kai, I walked over to him. And it was kind of an interesting situation. I think I picked up for me.

Kai Fahrion:

Yeah, so we ended up actually working together on the site, which was ironic that they picked us to work together, not knowing any of that what groups just mentioned. And then yeah, from there, we pretty much we worked together on the site there. First, then on one of our breaks, ended up pulling out these things called energy balls. They were vegan, and literally an energy ball that he mentioned, that he brought to site. And it was something for breaktime that he was like, Hey, you bought one of these gave me one of them. And we started getting into the details of kind of a little bit more in depth of how we grew up. What kind of some of the things that we liked, and ended up clicking on a lot of things when it came to music, when it came to our love for cars, a lot of different aspects like that. So that kind of then shifted into working together quite a bit. Because the foreman on site liked how we work together and all of that. I don't know how detailed you want to go into the story here, yours might be you kind of are good at the high level asked for dilution on ticket.

Gursh Bal:

Yeah, I mean, to really sum it up, I for the longest time as well to cost quite a bit younger than me. The best way to explain that is I'm married. And I have three kids. And Kai is in a long term relationship and has two kids, but in the form of dog's mind or the human version. So there's a pretty big gap from an age perspective between the two of us. But the biggest thing is I always admired him and looked up to him because his work ethic was excellent. And he really knew what he was doing. So I was his apprentice for a while, wasn't just at that site, but it continued on on to other sites as well, too. And I was very happy working underneath an individual as skilled as him, which eventually allowed you know that that piece of you have to be able to learn how to work underneath people before you can work over them. And then but when that never ended up happening, we both just rose together and became equals over time.

Jason Cox:

It is fascinating when you start having those relationships working with a partner in the field, whether it's a journeyman or another apprentice, you definitely do build some unique bonds that that I mean, they last a lifetime, you still run into people from time to time, and you learn a lot when you're learning and working together. And some very strange situations in the trade.

Gursh Bal:

That's a beautiful part of the trip, especially people who like your the title of journeyman is such an honorable rule to have. And even still, like, well, we'll have like a barbecue or something like that. And my, there'll be the odd one where my family comes down and like, Oh, you gotta meet this person use my journeyman, this side. And this person was a journeyman of this site, and they they hold a special place in our lives. Because without them, you know that you're you would have never gotten your red seal or ticket. So you're 100%, right, they are very important. Not necessarily just from the companionship side, but also in the ability to become a skilled individual to be able to really find your footing in the world.

Jason Cox:

And you basically both said that your family, you guys came to Canada, and I found that the opinion of the trades in Europe is far different than it is in North America. So that respect in the Europe culture, towards the trades. I mean, it's it's they're looking at you like you've got a degree or you're, you're a professional. And so it's nice to see even even as you were mentioning earlier, your family's in plumbing and going university, but they still encourage you to

Kai Fahrion:

follow the trades. Yeah, for sure. It was a big part of it is like being able to get kind of that hands on aspect was, again, like I said, everybody kind of goes back on the plumbing side, and then into the engineering side, where we've kind of been able to, you almost get to learn both sides of that here, which is nice. You get to kind of really interact with the engineers when you're working on projects as well. So yeah, I definitely agree that it's a very sought after a really good group choice.

Zack Hartle:

So you guys built that relationship together. And I couldn't agree more. I mean, those bonds between journeyman and apprentice and then or journeyman and journeyman or apprentice and apprentice working together. I mean, some of that are my lifelong friends or people in my wedding parties, right are people I came up working with, you know, through my apprenticeship into my journeyman service van years. When did you guys decide to go from working for someone else into starting virtuoso and what helped you make that decision?

Gursh Bal:

This is this is also another interesting story. So at the time, we were both working for Stratis electrical instrumentation, they're still going strong, could have really good leadership team. I highly recommend them as an employer as well to chi was kinda we're running around as a two man crew going and just banging out all these all these more intricate, more detailed jobs and really making sure we were doing the best work that we could potentially do. But simultaneously to that we got an invitation from sate for a builder business competition. This was in April of 2016. So it was a Dragon's Den style competition in which you pitch your business model, we ended up going forward with a electrical company, electrical services company focused on solar and had some really good advisors at our, at that time in our lives as well, too, that helped us formulate a really good business strategy. And we ended up winning the competition we won. What we thought back then was a lot of money was five grand and that gave us enough confidence to Team quit our jobs. So we took out our employer at the time of the individual that we had a really good relationship by the name, gentleman's name was Craig app, took them over lunch, told him like, Hey, thank you so much for everything that you've done for us. But it's time for us to go on our own. And we wanted to make sure we were doing whatever jobs they wanted us to get done to have to have that wrapped up and be really respectful to their organization, because we had the freedom to do what we wanted to now. So we made sure we left off on a good on a on a really good note, but simultaneously to making sure we did that properly. Ironically enough, that individual himself who was a master electrician helped support our business for the first I would say hi, probably four to six months, give or take around six months. Yeah, around six months, he helped us pull permits until we were really under we got our feet underneath that. So it just showed like how class even individual he was, but also simultaneously spoke volumes about the industry that in the trades, like everybody really works together and help support one another. Regardless of of kind of where they're going, because it is truly a rising tide. Right. We're all building this province together.

Zack Hartle:

Yeah, it's so good to hear that having that strong relationship with him and no hard feelings and you guys decided to leave helped you guys launch your business. One thing I really liked what that story is, you mentioned the business competition at at sait. Which is a polytechnic post secondary here in Calgary, Alberta. Maybe can you just touch on that a little bit? That's a pretty cool opportunity. And I think the fact that you guys even took the initiative to jump on it is something that you know, maybe only one out of 100, people would even think to jump on. So you can touch on that.

Kai Fahrion:

Yeah, I can expand on that. And it's actually, we've said this a few times already, but is it adds to the funny story. So it goes back to that we were working separately at this time, actually. So I was working in Saskatchewan, on our hometown project. And girl she were working on camera interview in Calgary out of town as well. But we were communicating and I got an email saying, Hey, we're doing this save, build a business competition, the owner of rouge is going to be speaking as like the inspirational speaker for day one. And then if you get accepted into the program after that you can apply after kind of that speech. And then you can you can get accepted into the program to actually pitch your business. So I forwarded that email to Gershon this was I had a job where I was sleeping in a hotel, it was probably like a $15 night hotel where you're wearing all your clothes to the good outta town, grind, and I afford the emails like this, I think it's a really good opportunity for us to, to kind of step out of our day to day and see if we can actually kick this thing off and do something bigger with it. And so I forwarded that to grish. We both agreed it made sense. When I came back on my days off, we ended up going to, to the speech there to watch it. And then from there, I applied for the competition. And were picked, how many businesses were picked yours or how many was it eight or 10, that went through the program.

Gursh Bal:

I think it was, it was a total of eight, that ended up pitching pitching at the actual night of the events. And that's sort of Yeah, that's an interesting point as well, too. I was touching on something interesting there with the actual event. The event was on the night of my TQ and a morning after was my IP. So my interprovincial exam and my actual final exam for my for my to get my journeyman ticket. So it was it was pretty chaotic. And that was it, nothing has changed. So that was a that was a good night. But Kyle that you kind of carry the carry back to the story there.

Kai Fahrion:

Ya know, so that pretty much got us into the it was through Satan and actus, who through their business school, again, we were paired with an individual, that funny enough now we're still really good friends with both of them as well. So people that you meet throughout these processes, and these journeys have been a huge impact as well. And then yeah, that went into us building our business model, and then pitching to I want to say six individuals, and then being able to win that take that $5,000 And like you said, run with it and kind of create what we've created today.

Jason Cox:

I think that's an incredible opportunity. So if we kind of look back at that proposal, at your presentation and then kind of jump right to where we are today. How Have your let's talk about your services that your company is offering today. And have they changed very much from those initial proposals. So we went

Kai Fahrion:

into the competition with pitching solar. So looking heavily at Solar Solutions backed by traditional electrical solutions as well. And today, our major offering is home solar solution. So more dialed in. So pretty much what we did from there is we ended up doing traditional electrical work to get our footing into the solar space. And then once we started kind of working closer with the solar and the sustainability side of things, then we transitioned into solar solutions, electric vehicles, solutions and led retrofits so really on like sustainability, reducing carbon footprint for homes and commercial. And now our focus has actually shifted again in the last kind of 12 months, where we're heavily focused on home solar solutions. So that's solar electric vehicle infrastructure and battery solutions for homes. And the other aspects, like when it comes to traditional electrical work, we work with contractors and partners that do that. So it shifted quite a bit and I was the last five years

Jason Cox:

kind of thing. All right, well, I mean, but I mean, it was a natural progression. It's yeah, it's, it's, it's not like you started with vegetables and move to fruit, it seems like you guys are are following a logical sequence there. So that's kind of cool.

Zack Hartle:

So I've done a little bit of reading about the company I know. And based on your story in the last five year, you guys have grown rapidly, right? You've I don't know grown a lot. Have you guys manage that growth from five years ago, I assume the two of you standing on a roof together installing panels to now being the CO CEOs? How did you get from there to hear?

Gursh Bal:

Yeah, that's a really good question. So it can be growth is always something that isn't ever truly predictable. Other than the numbers in the spreadsheet, usually the numbers on a spreadsheet is the guiding the guiding overview of what it is that we need to be able to achieve. And the biggest thing that we understood, and this is coming from truly a humble place not from an arrogant position at all is that you have to understand as an owner of an organization that people believe in you. And that's really, the biggest thing in any interaction you have in humanity is that if you're getting behind something is because there's somebody that created that something that you now believe in. And adopting that mindset was something that was a little bit difficult for us. But it's been formulated into something that we have internally and externally, which are not generally known as core values. But our core values are not like the typical ones, where it's like safety or integrity or something. It's very much rooted in who we are, as people, what we've determined as individuals are the most important characteristics that we carry, and what we think are required for our team to be able to exemplify, exemplify in their everyday interactions with their clients with each other, and things of that nature. But there's another side of the coin as well, too, is the ability to actually pull these things off. And that's, that's about really coming down to having the right people in the right seat. So we have a really strong management team, each each representing a different part of our company, whether it be sales or operations, or marketing, or finance, we have some really talented individuals, a lot of them are quite young as well too, but very hardworking and very bright. And believing in those people and giving them the tools that they need have been has been one of the major reasons where we are continuing successfully and, and have had a lot of success previously as well to the last piece of the growth is really tied to the operation side of things. So making really strong relationships, making sure that you know, the organizations that you're working with externally, whether it be like vendors, suppliers, distributors, some of the partnerships we have, for example, we represent Porsche, Canada, we work Tesla ChargePoint, things of that nature, some of these really cool brands, making sure that they feel that they're a part of our vision as well too, and making sure that they also understand that that we're grateful for having them along the ride. That's really what it comes down to in terms of the company's growth, it's chaotic, it's a lot of the times it can be really difficult and it's not fun. But as long as the vision is locked in and everybody feels like they're part of part of the greater the greater good of what we're trying to do and not filled in feeling like they're getting run over something doesn't necessarily go right as has really put us in the right position for the future.

Zack Hartle:

Now what I'm hearing there, I mean throughout the entire you know, half an hour we've been talking so far it's it's all about relationships, right your guys's strengthen your bond with each other, the relationship with your management team and then your relationship with the external industry, which I think is really important to understand that this industry is rooted in strong relationships. I really liked that.

Gursh Bal:

It makes a lot of sense. It made me really want to bring it back down to like where that comes from. We're from we're both of us are from different countries, our class from Germany. I'm from England, my dad's from India. And there's this The weird thing that ends up happening is when you come to Canada, you're not really, in a country, you're in the best representation of what humanity has to offer, we just happen to be stuck on a cold part of it, which kind of sucks half the time of the year. But the big thing is that you also simultaneously understand that we're, we're all in this together, and everybody's working collectively towards something bigger than ourselves. Because the opportunities that you're afforded in this country come with a couple different things, it can either come with guilt for all humans, sinto can experience the Canadian life because life is short. And here, it's quite sweet. And it also comes with a lot of motivation, knowing that, because we have the resources that we have here, we have to work a little bit harder, and make sure that we're benefiting all those that don't have the same opportunities as us.

Jason Cox:

So it would seem that one of our questions here is what are you guys looking for new employees, I think character is one of those strongest traits that you guys would be looking for. And then you could develop the skills of your trades people.

Kai Fahrion:

Yeah, a big part of what we look for when it comes to whether it's field office, whatever positions it might be, is cultural fit and character and being tied into our vision for the future. So being able to actually feel and want to make an impact when it comes to sustainable solutions, and helping fight climate change. And like you said, those other aspects, we actually had, again, individuals, if they're, we'll call them no years that start their apprenticeships with us, right, and work through that and are able to kind of, then get the educational side as well. And then same with individuals that aren't doing the apprenticeship, they're able to get that education side from other individuals on the team or through external training and all that. So it it's a super big thing when we're looking at new employees is how do they fit when it comes to things outside of skills that ranks really highly with us?

Jason Cox:

I've never thought ever heard the term no yours before, I kind of like, I like how you take it and you're like, it's in the past, it's almost like a negative thing. You start off green, you don't know anything. Whereas you're gonna sculpt this person and you're gonna build, you're gonna, you're gonna build the employee that you want out of it. So it's actually a good thing.

Kai Fahrion:

Yeah, exactly.

Jason Cox:

Might not be in the right order of our questions here. But you guys mentioned that your business is really focused in on residential? Solar. My question is for you guys. Or it doesn't seem like there'd be a whole lot of engineered prints for your projects. When it comes to picking products. Are you guys kind of loyal to almost one brand name? Like what? Where have you guys picked up your experience on deciding which vendors to use for your your installations?

Kai Fahrion:

Yeah, I can I can touch on that. It's really a question. A lot of it has some of it or some of it has come from trial and error. So working with different brands that might have seen better and that ended up being maybe not the best solutions for us. I think that's just again, with growth. Now, with the vendors that we use, a lot of it comes from, what it what are they doing on the sustainability side. So we look at our distribution and our supply network on are they actually looking at reducing their impacts from the carbon side of, again, manufacturing, transportation, all that, that's a big part of it. And then also looking at product quality. So being able to have really good product quality was really good warranties has been a huge aspect of us actually picking a few different solutions. We don't have it narrowed down to say one for each, just because we don't want to be tied to just one supplier just because of different code regulations and all that. But we have it kind of to two to three that we use for the last like couple years that have been steady. We've been able to build those relationships like garage mentioned with manufacturer and distributor to to offer the best product and the best service.

Jason Cox:

Yeah, I think you see that I think you see that most of the time with with a lot of construction trades, they they narrow it down to two or three vendors just out of convenience and efficiency for sure.

Zack Hartle:

Other than working with those vendors that use like you say have more sustainable actions in their processes and stuff as a as a construction company, a trade company. I mean, we know that the trades can be pretty wasteful at times in different various aspects of construction. What have you guys done as a company to kind of limit your impact on the environment in your installation processes?

Kai Fahrion:

Yeah, that's a really good question. We can kind of two part of this wonders. So from the actual waste management side of things, again, it looks at partnering with companies that go further they go above and beyond with their processes when it comes to like our disposal and our recycling bins. So that's a big aspect of it is so like actually working with them on seeing, hey, do they actually recycled products? Do they actually do what they're saying? Are they just going to the landfill was the kind of thing that was one and then working with actually reducing material needs when it comes to the crews on site. So educating and chatting with them and kind of looking at, okay, what what is needed for this project are we able to mitigate by buying more bulk and being able to kind of have that with less waste than a good example is wire, reducing the wire waste when it comes to cut offs and things like that. And then another big aspect is also having a full recycling program when it comes to the wire. So being able to bring that all back, I know there's a monetary side to that as well. But a big one is, that's the environmental side and the monetary side, they kind of drive each other. And that gives individuals that ability to really make sure they set that aside and their crews, and then they pretty much one individual or one crew will bring it all back on a bi monthly usually every couple of months, they'll bring it back. So that's the big parts that we do when it comes to the construction site and like garage add anything else when it comes to like Office and all that.

Gursh Bal:

And when it comes down to the the greater scheme of things in terms of what does it look like from our from our organizational perspective, we do have a goal to become carbon neutral as an organization. And there's different ways that we're already bringing that into play, the first step that we took was the implementing SDG. So the Sustainable Development Goals put up by the UN. So we subscribed to seven, seven of them. And we're making sure that we're measuring each of the targets, how are we actually how are we actually, you know, satisfying the requirements based on what the UN has set out. And then further to that we're developing an internal ESG program, with some with some in line with the GRI standards. So making sure that there is a global perspective that we're bringing into play that we're hitting the benchmarks from that side of things, and then ultimately, me figuring out the gap. So the beautiful thing about the world that we live in now is trees and solar panels and other renewable energy resources have an inherent carbon offset associated with them. So hypothetically speaking, let's say, Zach, you wanted to you have a trip coming up and you wanted to fly to Mexico, you now can simply just go to the like, air Canada's website and buy the carbon offsets associated with the amount of fuel that's going to be used for your seat based on how many people are on your flight. And you'll be able to enjoy that, that vacation without any sort of, you know, concerns about your environmental footprint. So the big piece about that is where we have a lot of efforts internally to make sure we're in alignment with that, that's also going to include a switching over our entire fleet TV, but where we do have gaps, we'll make sure that we satisfy them with different brokerage firms that provides us carbon, or in some cases, we'll we'll be able to acquire them from our clients as well, too.

Zack Hartle:

That's awesome. But guess my next question is what's next for the company? In the next you know, 510 years? Where do you guys see virtual so headed?

Kai Fahrion:

Okay, perfect. So one of our big things is our BHAG we're big, hairy, audacious goal. And that is a million homes by 2040. So a million homes and solar solutions by 2040 is our big thing. Now, that's a 19 year Hautelook, we obviously have that broken down into quarterly yearly, three year, and then so on when it comes to goals, when you're looking at the actual things that are in a tangible near future is a is a full rebrand. So we're actually looking at a rebrand when it comes to the field, the company, the forward facing and internal. So that that's a big exciting thing that we've been working on that we're looking forward to launching in the New Year as well. And then I'll like Gursh, kind of expand on that. And a few other exciting things that are coming.

Gursh Bal:

Yeah, so I suppose touching on something that has been a little bit of a delicate process. So we are going to be coming out with a new name, a new look and a much easier to digest overall experience with our clientele. The biggest thing about our the industry that we're in, so you know, sustainability as a whole, at the end user side of things, is it's an opportunity that hasn't necessarily existed in Hume previously, in whatever that opportunity is, is to be able to control control the way that your energy is utilized. It's the most democratic form of energy that we have, and making sure that it doesn't sound complicated, like the way that I just explained that is a little bit complicated, right? So our new brand will be able to really simplify that down and allow people to be able to make a decision in a faster, more confident manner. Because in our industry, nobody's really doing a good job at it right now, from that perspective. They're doing a very excellent job from saying that, here's your specs, here's the technical pieces. here's the here's the ins and outs, and it hasn't become a more mass market product in Canada yet. So that's going to be what we're going to accomplish in the short term is we're going to make it make it that mass market product so that the impact of humanity's humanity on the planet Earth can be reduced. Obviously, solar isn't the be all and end all solution. It's part of the greater puzzle piece, but at least in our industry, we can help accelerate that side forward. And the bigger the bigger side of it from the human side is To be able to create a lot of really good jobs, we're roughly sitting at about 50 people pretty close to about 50 people now, that number is most likely going to double quite easily in the next six months. And the people that do work with us, like I have a lot of respect for them, and a lot of compassion towards them as well, too. They're all really great individuals. And we want to see that continue to grow. And we want to increase the standard of what electricians can come to expect in a workplace, whether it be benefits, whether that be the they're having their voices heard the opportunities in organizations, some of our project managers started off and started off in the field and work their way up. And just being able to make sure that that opportunity as an organization and Equal Opportunity organization, is really amplified over these over these next few years. So people know that it's a good place to work and also expect higher standards from their current employer. So hopefully, that provides a greater snapshot of the internal workings of what our goals

Jason Cox:

will be looking forward to the announcement in the new year just to see what you guys are up to. Because it's, it's obvious that you have a plan.

Gursh Bal:

We're really excited for that as well, too. I mean, it's been, it's been a labor of love, in the best of ways because the it's, it's the most doing a rebrand is the equivalent of like spending, spending less than like an entire year in a dentist chair, is you don't know which tooth is gonna get pulled next, right. So it's a fun exercise to add to that we're hoping that we have a nice set of teeth, and everybody liked the smile that we put on.

Zack Hartle:

So I'm going to switch gears a little bit here, really enjoyed hearing about the business and the forward outlook of the business. But I want to talk a little bit about, like sustainability overall and the role that electricians are going to play in that. So what role do you see electricians playing in combating climate change right now? And how do you think that's going to start shifting in the next, you know, five and 10 years.

Gursh Bal:

So I can I can touch on this one, from a high level perspective was kind of zooming in, on electric. It's obviously my favorite tree. I mean, I'm an electrician myself, but it's not for the reason that a lot of people would think that's all you gotta to cool work. And you know, it's it's more from the perspective that it's an it's a very important trade from the proceed from the side of things that of you know, making sure the planet is sustainable in terms of humans living on earth, having clean air and things of that nature as well, too. And where that really comes from is, when when I was going through the process of becoming an electrician, I really quickly discovered there's at that time, there was about 1.2 billion people that didn't have access to electricity, the key, the mote, the single greatest thing that you can do to overcome poverty in developing nations is having access to electricity, the ability to charge a smartphone, to have running water in your home to have a light bulb on at night. I know those all seem like super, you know, typical things that we experienced here. But that isn't the case in a lot of countries. And that's, that's a big thing there that electricians can look forward to if they're going to be part of that forward movement to sustainability as a whole. If it's carbon capture technology, somebody's got to worry about if it's a wind generator, somebody's got to wire that if it's solar panels, that's almost exclusively all electrical work. And where that's being driven from is currently globally, there's 834 cities, not not country cities that have renewable energy targets. 350 of those 834 are located in North America, the other the other is split up between Latin America and the Caribbean, which is 32 Europe, which is 357 Asia, which has 51 Sub Saharan Africa, which has 19, and Oceania, which has 16. So the vast majority, and other than by seven cities is in North America. And due to the trend of globalization and the ability to travel easily for work. The opportunity for electricians is almost limitless. If you want to go jump on a plane and fly down to the Caribbean and wires and solar panels based on the techniques that you learned in Canada, which our organization tries to push the highest standard. You have that opportunity here. We also have an individual on our team who, who whose mom stumbled across her Instagram post saw that we were still installing in Calgary and convinced him to come back and Calgary and Edmonton sorry, and convinced him to come back from Australia and start installing for us. And he was down in Australia installing solar panels. So it is becoming a very universal, a very universal product. It's not like and please keep in mind, I really admire oil and gas industry in the province here. I used to work in it myself. But it's not like bitumen or shale, where it's very geographical and you're limited on that solar can be installed anywhere, anytime. Even if it's in a cloudy place or on the side of the mountain that's north facing energy so can can still be produced. If there's a requirement for it, it can be done. So that's that's the big thing that I see there for the future of the trade is it's very bright, and it's just starting to get its heels the heels dug in. So the opportunity in at least for our lifetime, is very abundant and variability.

Jason Cox:

Coupled with that earlier you mentioned EVs and perhaps your company moving to an Eevee fleet What are your guys's thoughts of the Evie infrastructure capabilities of our current grid? And? And I would imagine your installs are going to help facilitate powering those evey

Kai Fahrion:

cars? Yeah, that's a really good question. Yeah. So when it comes to our solutions, it's actually working in Thinkorswim. Since the beginning, some of our partnerships are heavily heavily focused on that it's getting in at the ground floor with individuals that are looking at EVs. So we'll take Porsche, for example. The reason we have that partnership is really that we're able to be that sounding board for a client that's looking to maybe get a Thai cat or again, with her partnership with Tesla, looking at it fully electric Tesla, and being able to say, okay, looking at their infrastructure at their own level, and what what's available here, and how can we actually supplement that with solar so that you're making that electric vehicle truly carbon neutral? There's always see that that argument or that conversation that comes up a lot between, if you're plugging into the grid, how dirty is that grid that then that then pushes forward? Is that electric vehicle actually clean? So being able to educate individuals on that as well on what what part can they do to offset an electric vehicle, it's not actually a huge solar system, you're looking at anywhere from eight to 10 panels that can offset the usage of electric vehicle from the average person, the average person drives about 50 kilometers a day. So super, more and more so on the education side that people think that it's this huge thing, we need to have 40 panels for our electric vehicle, but you can actually do a fairly small system. And then how does that look for actually offsetting the other loads in the house as well. And so we do it really, from a grassroots perspective, we try to go right when they're looking at purchasing the vehicle, making sure that we're the first contact point for that, and then being able to help them through that when it comes to energy management solutions. So we'll just say Calgary, for example. And Max on the distribution side, we did have a chance to work with them on a pilot project where they actually are doing pilots within all parts of the city. So each quadrant and seeing what are the impacts of electric vehicle installs on the grid? And when when are those being charged for they're taking that data so that they can actually start to adjust for this, like you said, kind of that three to five year plan, that the infrastructure is there for, for the electric vehicles to come online? And they know exactly where are they going to be putting public charging stations? Where can they hit heavier on kind of like electric vehicles being in everybody's home, and actually having that data. So it's something that's been ongoing, we've been lucky enough to be heavily involved in it as well.

Jason Cox:

And when it comes to these installs in the residential, you guys, not only would you have to be fluent in the technology, the code the installation, but it seems like there's an endless supply of, of conversation regarding green rebates. So you guys would have to be up to date on the latest and greatest possible rebates for your customer? Can you kind of give us a quick idea of where we are currently with rebates in the province?

Gursh Bal:

Yeah, absolutely. So there's a lot of the rebates that are currently existing on both the solar and the electric vehicle side are focused or provided for the federal government underneath. So it's nice, it's coming from a single point, which makes it a little bit easier to read across the country. And for solar right now, you can get up to $5,000 off from the greener homes grants, which is which takes a huge cost off the table for an average on average household. And then for electric vehicles, if you are purchasing it. And I believe the maximum value of electric vehicle has to be somewhere around 55 grand you can get, you can get $5,000 off. So it's an international one. There's currently no provincial rebates available. But if you live in the city of Edmonton, there's another $4,000 off for solar and there's $600 off for an electric vehicle charging station. But we do have a new mayor in Calgary, and not giving any positions on her as an individual or her her platform. But she has taken a very strong position on climate change. As recently as a few days ago, she did have conversations with leaders in the industry to be able to determine what does the future need to look like in terms of making sure that Calgary as a city is fortified for this transit, this transition that's underway. So we'll be seeing some exciting things coming out from there. The one thing I do have always warning people with is don't wait. Every time that people have waited, they come back prices have gone up, because the sort of the solutions that we're providing are becoming more popular. Typical supply and demand considerations are also a factor prices are going up as demand is going up. So in some cases, we've had clients that have reached out from like four or five years ago, and their price is exactly the same after we did. So that just goes to show you that everybody's got a sort of unique solution. So again, cheaper. The counterpoint to that is electricity prices are getting more expensive. So justification for solar is payback is faster, but the pay is the cost is going up a little bit. And then electric vehicles is is becoming a little bit of an interesting game as well to the electric vehicle charging. Station manufacturers understand now that there's a major demand because people need electric vehicle charging stations to drive around. So we'll see some price increases coming from that side as well, too. So, I mean, there's no time like now. But the bigger piece as well, too is it's not coming from the corporate perspective, it's coming from the from just historically, what we've seen from price fluctuations. And obviously, there's COVID Very ability to layer on top of that, which is always fun as well.

Zack Hartle:

So the greener homes grant, so my understanding is that it's still like months out, because you have to get an energy advisor, like their website is not the best, we have to get an energy advisor assessment. Do you guys know what the wait times that people are seeing on that right now,

Gursh Bal:

if you're our clients, two weeks, if you're if you're going to somebody else, three months. So we have, we've built that partnership relationship in house, we if if we have a client, and that, you know is eager, we can push them through that process a lot faster. But the solar process in a residential level still takes some time. So usually what we do is we launched all simultaneously, no matter what solar is approved on single family homes, it's baked into the space into the greener chrome homes cancel, there's no risk associated with that you know, it no matter what it's going to get approved. So it's just about making sure that you get your quote done, get the get your contract signed and get the microgeneration process started. Because that part itself usually takes three to four weeks. That's where the delays typically happen. The greener homecraft is an easy peasy. We just introduced Zillow to the website, you sign up for contact, like virtuoso say, hey, I'm interested in getting solar and then we help fast track the whole process.

Zack Hartle:

And then, because I have looked into a little bit, but how, how much solar are you having to put in to get $5,000? Back? And what's the percentage that it ends up working out to be?

Gursh Bal:

It's $1 per watt. So to get the full five grand, you simply have to do a five kilowatt system.

Jason Cox:

Okay. Are you guys looking at doing any international installs? Are you basically trying to stay within Western Canada?

Gursh Bal:

We're actually we're actually in the stages of expansion right now. So we're going stateside. And we have like a grander vision in terms of heading to develop nations and being able to execute our expertise in those regions. I think I heard this from this was a public conference. And Elon, ironically enough, Elon Musk is speaking at it. And he's one of the chiefs of Dubai. And she could apply basically said that Canada's greatest weakness is simultaneously his greatest strength is our diversity. So the one thing that we can export as an as a nation is our expertise. So we do have, we do have longer term plans to be able to enter different parts of Africa, we have already had those areas noted, in which we know that the acceleration of renewables is except is at a different is going to happen at a different pace. And those areas really do need two different things. One, they need the opportunity to be able to pollute. And I know that sounds kind of weird to say all now been developed nations, whether it be like Europe, the United States or Canada, we've had a huge amount of time to pollute without any repercussions. So they need that same opportunity. And simultaneously to that they need to be able to enable renewables at a faster rate as well based on the rapid development of their other population. So I think Africa, for example, is going to eclipse China here pretty quickly based on the number of people. And the average age in that country, for the working force is like 19 to 21 years old. So it's a lie young people completely get renewables, but they just need access to it. So that is part of our longer term strategy. Hopefully, it happens sooner than later. Because there's two sides, the opportunity and the necessity for us to go out there is quite big.

Jason Cox:

Well, from a business standpoint, you can see that that would be incredible. And then obviously, a lot of the conversations you guys were saying earlier about providing energy to that 1.2 billion people without power in the world, obviously, moving to a global scale, you guys can start to succeed in those goals.

Gursh Bal:

Yeah, yeah. It's all part of it's all part of the, you know, this isn't really necessarily Oracle. This is just like a goal of humanity's we've just figured out which part of it we fit into race, and we're committed to that piece of it.

Jason Cox:

Fantastic, guys, I'm pretty impressed. I must admit. So we do some of these. And I actually, we've been very lucky so far with all of our guests. So I've learned a lot. So thank you so much.

Gursh Bal:

Well, likewise, you guys have created this platform for us to be able to share our voice so I appreciate it as well, too. It's not a lot of people say they're gonna do something and they don't do it. Right. You guys have taken your thoughts and turn them into actions, which is generally 90% of the battle.

Jason Cox:

Our goal is to is to provide a communication link for our industry and to educate all of our workers and ourselves as well. I mean, there's as you both know, the industry is huge and, and people get pigeonholed into one area and then we start to hear you start to get attitudes and opinions Both information that you really don't know a lot about. So if you can go out and kind of learn a little bit more about every little part of the industry, I mean, it can't help but make you better.

Gursh Bal:

Yeah, yeah, that's that is. No, it's nice that you put that as well. To me, I think the skin the scariest part about life is always change. But it's the cons, it's the most absolute constant that we have, right? Is young individuals, especially I think they don't understand very well enough that there's always going to be regardless of whatever type you live the life you live, there's always going to be some form of tragedy, and some sort of form of elation. And a lot of people especially in Canada are always pursuing like this happiness that doesn't exist. Anything I was saying this to kind of the day, have a life isn't necessarily about happiness, it's about experiencing the range of emotions in relation to happiness. And that's that also applies to our industry as a whole is that we're just part of something that was naturally progressing regardless, and you can't stop progress. It's, it's all humans have ever known. Right? And, and I'm excited I am hoping to see in my lifetime is Mars chi is going to ditch everybody that he loves to be able to see if he can get making things. That's just him as a person. I don't think I might leave my kids behind. But I think that's where we're exciting. I think it's a possibility as well, too. I know that's kind of putting putting ourselves into the crazy realm of things that humans are talking about. But we're truly living in exciting times, and good times. I mean, we were, we're really exposed to it on a high level. So hopefully you guys hear that a lot from your other speakers as well, too, as to you know, it's not all doom and gloom. But there's a lot of positivity, kind of going around going around the province right now. And just Canada in general.

Jason Cox:

Yeah, it seems like we're, I mean, everyone's kind of in this cocoon right now with with COVID. And with the downturn in the economy, but, I mean, hopefully, we're starting to see a change with with the pandemic, and then from the economy scale to hopefully where things are gonna start getting better. And with people's attitudes, and, and overall success will hopefully follow.

Gursh Bal:

Yeah, for sure. Iagree.

Zack Hartle:

Like Jason said, we really appreciate you guys coming on the show today. learned a ton from both of you. Very excited to hear about, you know, your Outlook upon the industry and your journey to get where you are. I just I'd love to hear that your your goal and your vision as business owners is really a global scale, right. And you really are just doing this, to make the world a better place. And you're using the skills and the knowledge that you've learned at something. I hope you guys keep up and I really appreciate that. So with that being said, yeah, thank you guys both so much for coming on the show.

Gursh Bal:

Yeah, thanks again, for having us is an absolute pleasure. Yeah. Thanks

Kai Fahrion:

for having us. It was awesome. Thanks for making the podcast. Like it's just like you said, it's super cool to see an electrical focus on because I think it's something that was missing, or this industry is just had so much potential. So

Zack Hartle:

thank you so much for listening to our episode today, where we sat down with those two was a excellent episode. And I really got to say it took a lot away from it. And I think that their passion and their vision for the future of the industry and a sustainable future is one that we can all admire. So, thank you for listening to this episode. If you'd like the show, please share it with a friend. Our Podcasts can be found wherever you listen to podcast, Apple, Google Spotify. Connect with us on Instagram or Facebook at what's the word podcast and let us know if you liked the show or what you'd like to hear in future episodes. Thank you so much for listening. You have yourself a great day