Veterans in the Solar Workforce

November 3, 2020 7:48 pm
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With Veteran’s Day right around the corner, we have an opportunity to show our appreciation for those who have served our country. As a company that is founded and operated by a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, Arch Electric has always been proud to support and employ veterans. This year we are celebrating the veterans on our team that are now serving their country by helping Wisconsinites adopt clean, renewable energy through solar with Arch Electric. Come learn more about our veterans!












Edward Zinthefer: President and Owner of Arch Electric

Military Background

Ed served in the US Army Reserve for 23 years, spending most of his military career as a Drill Instructor and retiring as a First Sergeant.

Solar Career Pathway

Ed is the President and Owner of Arch Electric Inc, as well as a Member-Owner in Amicus, a national solar installers cooperative comprised of 48 solar contractors across the US. Ed is a Master Electrician and NABCEP certified solar installer, with over 30 years in electrical construction experience, 14 of them directly associated with the solar industry. As an early leader in the field, Ed shared his knowledge developing curriculum and instructing solar courses for organizations such as Lakeshore Technical College, Waukesha Technical College & the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy Program sought Ed out as a Compliance Agent to ensure Electrical Code compliance in systems being installed by firms emerging into the solar installation industry. From 2003-2016, Arch installed over 1.8MW of cumulative small distributed solar generation. In 2017 alone, Arch had installed over 1.8MW of solar, providing a snapshot of the industry’s growth in SE Wisconsin. In 2020 Arch will have installed ~25MW of solar.


Chadd Breit: Apprentice Electrician and Field Operations

Military Background

Chadd joined the Army on August 25, 1994, after high school as an Infantryman, and retired on November 30, 2018. He is a proven leader with over 20 years of supervisory and leadership skills in challenging and hazardous work environments. Chadd has 5 combat deployments including Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn; in total Chadd spent 49 months in combat duty.


Solar Career Pathway

Chadd is now employed with Arch Electric as an Apprentice Electrician and NABCEP Photovoltaic Associate with just under 2 years of experience in the electrical and solar industries. Although he has very little background in either field, his passion for learning, mentoring, sharing knowledge, and being detail-oriented is a driving force for his second career.



Riley Strohmenger: Solar Installer

Military Background

Riley underwent Basic Training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Lee, VA from October 2014 through September 2015. He served as an Allied Trades Specialist doing welding and machining and was then retrained as an 88U Railway Adviser. As a US Army Reserve member, Riley still serves in the 757 Expeditionary Rail Center, the only rail unit in the entire US Army.


Solar Career Pathway

Riley decided to pursue a one-year Electrical Trade Program at Fox Valley Technical College, covering residential and commercial electric trade as well as solar and renewable energy. He had a blast learning about renewable energy, installing panels on a mock-up roof, and wiring and mounting an inverter. He liked the idea of helping to move the world in a “greener” direction, so he applied to be a solar installer at Arch Electric.


Advice for service members entering the solar workforce

The military taught me to easily work with others and how to adapt, improvise, and overcome any adversity. This comes into play all the time at Arch. From having to work with new people to run into problems on-site, I consider myself lucky to have been well prepared by the Army to be able to work and problem-solve with others. If you are willing and eager to learn, solar is right for you. To any veteran considering solar, or Arch for that matter, I highly recommend it. It is a growing industry that needs good workers, solid leaders, and people that can think outside of the box.



Terry Hamer: Business Operations 

Military Background

Terry joined the US Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate program in 1999; he earned his commission as a naval officer from Officer Candidate School in September 2001.  He served as a submarine warfare officer from 2001 to 2013, completing six deployments to foreign seas.  He served as a junior officer on USS PENNSYLVANIA  and the Navigator on USS LOS ANGELES.

Terry continues to serve in the US Navy Reserve and recently returned from Afghanistan in September 2020 after a nine-month mobilization. He is a drilling reservist serving as the intelligence and communications Assistant Chief of Staff for COMNAVEUR COMNAVAF N3 in Atlanta, Georgia.


Solar Career Pathway

Terry left active duty in 2013 and joined Efficient Energy of Tennessee as a Project Manager.  He worked with EETN for eight years installing 70 MW of solar PV in 9 states serving as a Site Superintendent, Project Manager, and Director of Operations. Terry joined the Arch electric team as a Project Manager in September 2021.



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