COPEMISH — CBS Solar and Traverse Solar are partnering so both can expand sales.
“We’re going to take all of our marketing ability and we’re going to throw that into it to try to and move product. We’re going to do all the final product assembly here in Copemish,” said Tyson O’Shea, operations manager at CBS Solar.
Some of that final product includes a tracking system designed by Traverse Solar that keeps solar panels aimed toward the sun throughout the day to maximize energy generation.
“Myself and my partner who started the business — we’re both mechanical engineers,” said Traverse Solar CEO Nathan Bildeaux. “We’re not the commercialization arm of the company. I’d love to be able to say that I could go out and sell this to the world, but that’s really not my ability.”
The three-year agreement between Traverse Solar and CBS Solar offers shared ownership rights to Traverse Solar’s four-panel tracking system as both companies prepare for distribution growth across the Midwest and the nation, he said.
The deal “gives us a commercial partner in the space that’s respected throughout the Midwest that will help us go from retail to Midwest and national sales,” Bildeaux said. “It’s the commercial boost that we really needed.”
Traverse Solar was launched five years ago by Bildeaux and Kyle Jones.
Bildeaux, who grew up in Minnesota, and his wife settled in Traverse City because she grew up vacationing here and they decided it was where they wanted to raise their family.
Allan O’Shea launched CBS Solar in the 1970s with solar and wind energy offerings. The company later switched to providing energy-efficient windows and wood stoves, said Tyson O’Shea, Allan’s son. Eleven years ago, the company pivoted back to solar. It currently offers design and installation of residential, commercial and utility-scale solar energy systems.
CBS Solar has 16 employees. Traverse Solar has five.
The actual solar panels, the component that converts sunshine into electrical energy, are outsourced. Both local companies add other components to the panels to produce functional power generation units.
“We try to stick to as much North American content as we can,” Tyson O’Shea of the outsourced panels. “We use Canadian Solar and Mission Solar, out of Texas.”
Traverse Solar is a Traverse City-based startup that designs and manufactures solar energy systems that track the sun, which can increase power generation by 40 percent when compared to traditional solar panel systems, according to the companies.
“It’s a grassroots Traverse City effort,” Bildeaux said of the partnership. “I’m thankful to know people that are willing to help.”