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Meet Daren Goldin of Goldin Solar in Coconut Grove

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daren Goldin.

Daren, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was always interested in technical things and problem-solving. So, for my undergraduate studies, I studied Civil Engineering at the University of South Florida. There, I learned about the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and their system for certifying buildings as green. I always knew that I wanted to get involved in transforming how our buildings are built and used.

When I graduated, I decided to go in the direction of construction management instead of structural engineering. It still fell under Civil Engineering but was more oriented towards being around people and coordinating various interests on a construction site. I figured this would get me closer to green building. So, for my graduate studies, I went to the University of Texas in Austin and studied Construction Engineering & Project Management. I had the privilege of working as a research assistant studying optimization of construction job-site organizations.

Graduating with a master’s degree in December of 2009, the height of a recession in the construction management field was a double-edged sward. On one had, it was devastating to have come out of graduate studies with a master’s degree in a practical field and no job offers in sight. On the other hand, it is part of the success story. Since few companies were hiring construction managers in 2009, those that were would get a great deal of work out of new hires in that highly competitive field, which was hard to get a job in at that time. In my case, I eventually got a job as a project manager/superintendent for a large construction company in Texas and continued my learning. In fact, my first time ever on a construction site, I was managing the project. Since companies were operating very lean back then, I had the opportunity to work a wide variety of project types and project roles. I worked on elementary school renovations, constructing a high-school auditorium, and a large military design-build proposal. Eventually, when the economy was starting to pick back up, I left Texas and moved to Miami.

In Miami, I found a job with a smaller general contractor working as a project manager. This time on an interior build-out of a vocational college on 163rd ST, known as ASA College. I also worked on the renovation of a house in the Las Olas area in Fort Lauderdale. A few months later, I was working in the Blue Lagoon area on commercial office build-outs. These are the high-end offices south of the Miami airport. I found this work rewarding, but one day, when I was offered a job as an assistant project manager to build a utility-scale solar farm in North Carolina for Apple, I took it right away. My first solar project was a 20 Mega-Watt, 57,000 solar panels, a single-axis tracker solar farm. Meaning, the panels tracked the sun throughout the day. This farm was built to power the iCloud. That project was where I fell in love with solar. About five months later, once the solar farm was completed, I decided to go back to Miami and founded up Goldin Solar.

Late 2013, I returned to Miami and worked towards becoming a Florida certified solar contractor. I got involved in environmental organizations such as USGBC, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, etc. The last “regular” construction project I built before going full steam into Goldin Solar was the restoration of a historic hotel in Miami named the Vagabond Hotel. Goldin Solar formally incorporated in February of 2014. Some of our earliest projects are the Miami Children’s Museum, Coconut Residence Inn, among many other residential projects. Since then, Goldin Solar has expanded to become a statewide operation. We have built around 1,200 residential and commercial solar installations all around the state, with the largest concentration being in Miami. As a company, being born in Miami is one of our claims to fame. We learned how to engineer and permit solar systems in the building departments that are the strictest with wind speed considerations. This has made us synonymous with quality work all throughout Florida. Everyday is rewarding, knowing that we’re helping push Florida to transition to renewable energy and do our part to preserve this beautiful city and state that we live in.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The path to where we are today is never without trials and tribulations. We’ve been in business now for about 6.5 years and have had our share of obstacles.

1. The general public’s perception of solar – when we were founded in 2014, solar was still very new in Florida. It was typical to hear questions at a sales consultation such as: “so, this is going to heat my swimming pool?”. To which, we would have to reply with: “no, that’s solar thermal, we do solar PV, which produces electricity.” The point is that when you start a business in a space that’s so new, you need to be prepared to do a lot of education.

This was true not only in the sales process when educating potential customers. This was also true for building officials in permitting/inspections/plan review, who were used to inspecting electrical work, but not necessarily solar, which is unique.

2. The largest obstacle we overcame in our years in business involves how close our business came to getting shut down by legislation. Specifically, something that came to be known as Amendment 1, which was on the 2016 ballot in Florida. It was an amendment that was designed to confuse voters, and have them thinking that they were voting pro-solar, but would have eventually aimed to eliminate “net-metering,” which is an arrangement homeowners have with their utilities that makes solar feasible. Luckily, the amendment narrowly fell short of the required votes to pass when it’s true purpose became exposed in a newspaper article.

Whatever the obstacle, we’ve learned to stay responsive and nimble to always be sure that we are serving our customers in the best possible way. Staying strong in business is, among other things staying aware of market conditions and trying to be one step ahead as much as possible.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Goldin Solar – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Goldin Solar is a turn-key solar energy contractor installing solar systems on residential and commercial buildings. We hold licenses in solar, electrical and roofing. Our service areas are most of Florida, with the majority of our work on the east coast from Miami to Orlando. One of the things we are known for in the industry is our highly technical approach. We are a company in the construction industry that is run by engineers. I have a BS in structural engineering and an MS in construction management. Joe Cataldo, a Goldin Solar partner and the Chief Operations Officer has obtained his BS in Electrical Engineering. This approach has made us stand out in the industry. It is expressed in our material selection, our means and methods of installation, and how we design and manage our systems.

We are proud to say that we use the best solar panels in the industry, which have been picked based on their value, structural performance, and aesthetics. We use the best inverter in the industry and have the best battery in the industry.

In addition, we are proud to deliver the solar project 100% turn-key with our completely in-house staff. We do not subcontract or outsource any part of the project. Meaning, engineering is performed in-house, as is material delivery, project management, installation, and system maintenance. This integrated approach as made the customer experience a smooth and seamless.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our plan for the future is to continue to lead the solar industry in Florida and offer the best in class customer experience and solar systems. We view our role as a service provider as widespread as the benefits of our products.

By offering solar, we help our customers transition to renewable energy and save money on their monthly utility bills. By offering battery backup, we help our customers keep the lights (and air conditioner) on during a hurricane outage. So, it can be said that our plans for the future are to continue to help Floridian’s transition to renewable energy, strengthen communities and increase resilience to our changing climate conditions.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photos by Goldin Solar

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