Residential Wind Power - home based business profile - MWC Home Energy
Have you been thinking about residential wind power for your home? I have, and so has Mike Crook of MWC Home Energy in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Mike is a fine individual who has turned a passion into an enterprise that keeps him busy.
Like many people in Cheyenne and elsewhere that would like to harness the wind, Mike considers the wind to be money blowing across his property.
Wouldn't it be nice to just raise up a net and catch some of it? That's nearly exactly what he helps his customers do.
Mike installs residential wind power technology in and around Cheyenne. He features the Skystream 3.7 that is mounted on a mono-pole in a tilt up configuration that allows the wind turbine to be raised and lowered safely so installation and maintenance can be performed with both feet on the ground.
Let's take a peek at what Mike is doing, how he's doing it, and what's driving this self-proclaimed "energy nut" to help others shave down their electric bill with residential wind power in their own backyard.
MWC Home Energy is located in Cheyenne, Wyoming where wind is plentiful, especially in the fall, winter and spring. The company is run by Mike Crook in association with another gentleman who serves as a subcontractor on many of the projects.
Mike offers his customers experienced-based consulting services with respect to renewable energy sources. If you want the lowdown on grid-tied photovoltaics and residential wind power, MWC Home Energy in Cheyenne is a good resource.
Photo above shows photovoltaics at Mike's home in Cheyenne. Looks like our entrepreneur is committed to what he's offering in terms of products and services.
He's also a good source of information and hands-on experience with respect to solar water heating. Below Mike poses outside the south side of his home where his evacuated tube solar water heating system is hard at work heating his domestic hot water supply.
Mike serves as a dealer and installer for the SkyStream 3.7 wind generator. He can speak with authority about the equipment and its performance because he owns one himself. His home is highly insulated and optimized for peak energy efficiency, and nearly all of his energy needs are generated right there at his residence.
It all started when...
Our featured entrepreneur has always had a passion for renewable and sustainable home energy. He's made considerable investment in his own "green" home energy system, and started sharing his passion with others by teaching at the local community college.
In 2008, he turned his passion into an enterprise, and began making residential wind turbine installations:
- 10 installations in the first year. Not a bad start. That's indicative of interest in the renewable energy field.
- He'll complete about 20 installations in his second year. That's indicative of the quality of the product and reputation of the business.
And, he's doing all of this on a part-time basis - about 20 hours a week.
What's the drive behind this? Quite simply, Mike is leading by example. He's offering marketplace alternatives to help show how the U.S. can achieve energy independence.
How the business grows...
Like many other successful small businesses, MWC Home Energy attracts customers by word of mouth. His customers are his own best source of referrals.
Mike also has a website for MWC Home Energy so people can get to know his product and service offering a little better.
In addition, he uses signs on his personal and company vehicles. They're all hybrids as you might expect.
The niche of this home based business is homeowners interested in residential wind power, so word of mouth is important, especially in a small community like Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Benefits of the business...
I asked Mike about the benefits of operating his business. Some of his responses were typical, and a few were unusual. Here is what he cited:
- It's a great feeling to pursue a passion and be someone who meets customer interests from a standpoint of saving on energy and being out in front in terms of energy security.
- Having a very "freeing" feeling that comes from a combination of pursuing a passion and being much more self-directed while doing it.
- Convenience of working from home.
- Compatibility with full time employment.
I don't know about you, but it sounds great to me.
Resources you’ll need...
If you're interested in starting a business like this, you'll need some key resources to get a foothold. These include practical experience and technical knowledge. Both are key to being able to bring energy solutions such as residential wind power to those who are in search of them.
Another resource unique to this type of business is materials. In some cases, you may have to purchase poles, wind turbines, guy wires, hardware and other essentials so you're recognized as a dealer, and not simply a retail customer.
Having resources on hand can be essential in some cases if you expect to be capable of promptly responding to customer needs.
Also, you'll either have to own or rent heavy equipment for each job. In any event, one of the resources you'll need is secure space to store the materials and equipment in between jobs. In addition to being secure, some of your storage will have to be indoors to avoid the effects of weather.
This is one of the things that comes with many of the product oriented businesses - you have to have some kind of inventory.
Your potential for gross revenue will depend on a number of factors, but a ballpark figure of $80K to $100K per year for a serious part-time endeavor isn't unreasonable.
Just remember, that the following items take a big chunk out of that gross revenue before you realize any profit:
- equipment rental/lease/payments
- office overhead
- maintenance and repair
The story is always the same. The revenue looks good until you remind yourself that it's gross revenue, not profit.
Challenges to overcome...
Mike advises that some of the challenges in his business involve funding. He's reselling expensive equipment and financing projects where materials and subcontractor costs can be significant - many thousands of dollars. Make certain you have the ability to "meet the payroll" before you dive into such a capital intensive business.
One approach to funding some of the labor and subcontracting costs is to work on a "you get paid when I get paid basis." I've done this before on projects involving multiple contractors. It's one way to avoid investing heavily in business start-up costs when you have many projects to take care of.
Another challenge is the regulatory environment. For some jobs, and in some areas, there are building codes, electric line clearance requirements, fees and other complexities associated with hooking to the grid.
Anytime you have to work with the government or any large private organization, expect delays and costs associated with the bureaucracy.
With grid-tied residential wind power, or any other major change in the way things are done, you might also consider that some folks will resist change, especially if it cuts into "territory" that was once theirs alone.
Mike Crook is particularly proud of the quality of work that his residential wind power business has been able to provide to his customers. It's one thing that he knows everyone appreciates, and it continues to attract more customers for his products and services.
He has also established a good working relationship with his associates, and that makes some of this equipment and labor intensive work easier and more efficient to complete.
Special message from our featured entrepreneur...
Mike tells me that he has no regrets about getting into this residential wind power business. He was following his passion. He saw the need for a product and service offering in the residential wind power marketplace, and he set up an enterprise to meet that need.
Whether it's residential wind power, or some other business, our featured entrepreneur wants us to know that you have to enjoy what it is you're doing. "If you can approach it as fun, then it will be fun."
Fun as part of an enterprise? What more could anyone ask for?
Here is how to get in touch with Mike Crook if you want to discuss residential wind power:
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