Veterans in the Solar Workforce

November 3, 2020 7:48 pm
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With Veterans 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 owned by a 26 year veteran of the 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.

 

Daniel Shiley: Project Manager

Military Background

Dan underwent Basic Training in 1985 and then served as B-52 Gunner in the 524th Bomb Squadron of the 379th SAC Air Wing at the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Iosco County, Michigan.

 

Solar Career Pathway

Dan has been a project manager in the trades for a number of years now, ranging from underground infrastructure to highway construction to masonry. He based his education around the goal of becoming the best project manager he could be. Now with an opportunity to be in the solar field, Dan feels right at home at Arch Electric. It’s a fast-paced and regimented field with so much growth potential.

 

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.

 

 

Eric Langum: Solar Installer

Military Background

Eric enlisted in the Navy Reserve in November 2009 as an Intelligence Specialist. He was stationed in Ft. Sheridan, IL, and assigned to EUCOM JAC 0366. Eric worked as an analyst in the Counter-Terrorism Branch within his unit and traveled to the United Kingdom and Germany for various Joint Military exercises that also included NATO allies. Eric was awarded Junior Sailor of the Quarter twice and Honorably Discharged in July 2016 as a Second Class Petty Officer.

 

Solar Career Pathway

While Eric was in the Reserves, one of his civilian jobs was a Low Voltage Technician Apprentice. Because he had a little experience in a trade and didn’t feel cut out for a desk job anymore, Eric applied at Arch Electric. He was hired in September 2019 and has had a great experience.

 

Advice for service members entering the solar workforce

In the Navy, I learned to lead from the rear. This is applicable to solar because there isn’t one task that’s easier than another when it comes to installing solar. You have to be engaged with the mission and your co-workers. Listen, give constructive criticism, and take criticism from your team. While you may not be a leader out in the field, it’s still an important skill to have.

 

 

 

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