Article By Jeanne Rawdin:
Gen819 has been around since 2008 when owner Marcus Maedl realized that solar roofing was an expanding industry where his services would always be in demand. After working for several years for some of the biggest renewable energy companies in the world, he decided to launch his own business, initially focusing only on solar. But, Maedl realized, “It became more and more obvious that roofing and solar must go hand in hand. So in 2011 we started hiring experienced roofers and had them teach installers as much as possible about properly flashing solar mounting points on roofs.”
Later, in 2014, Maedl’s company officially merged with SDF Roofing and started offering commercial and residential roofing services, with or without solar. As of 2019, the company became an employee-owned business and its name was changed to Gen819, Inc.
Why 819? Maedl answers succinctly, “It takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds for sunlight to reach the earth. ‘Generation’ is a double-take on generating power and a new generation of people.”
Maedl grew up in Germany as the son of an American mother and a German father and therefore has dual citizenship, so he’s worked in both countries. He started in silicon-wafer process engineering, then did ERP software implementation, IT consulting and fiber optics on his way to switching solely to solar and roofing in 2003.
“This is where I feel at home and where I see a unique opportunity to build a successful, long-term, employee-owned company over the next decade or two,” Maedl said.
What sets Gen819 apart from other roofing or solar companies is that it employs a unique set of industry experts in both solar and roofing, and offers them regular training and education sessions.
“As a result,” Maedl explains, “we are rewarded with one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry. On a technical level, we don’t take short-cuts and only use the best materials. Our price point is typically somewhat higher, but so is the satisfaction of our clients.”
The company takes a more holistic approach unlike most other similar companies – looking at roofing materials in combination with solar PV and energy storage combinations. Gen819 guarantees its work by giving residential clients a lifetime warranty against roof leaks.
Maedl notes that, to his surprise, no large company in renewable energy has been able to stay in business in the U.S., in his opinion. He says only small-to-midsize companies seem to have the flexibility to adjust to ever-changing market conditions. Solar has seen very few changes in product technology, but enormous cost reduction due to the economy of scale effects in expanded manufacturing. And he points out that the newest trend in solar roofing is to couple it with battery storage as a back-up system to make it sustainable over a long period of time, as the solar can recharge the batteries during the daytime. That way, longer grid outages can be bridged.
2019 is a critical year for those considering solar roofing. It’s the last year where a full 30 percent income-tax credit can be claimed against the cost of installing solar tiles, so Marcus encourages homeowners considering solar roofing to do it now to get the 30 percent discount. Another big change coming next year – solar will be mandatory in new construction, so Maedl hopes to see his business expand as the laws change.