Delivering eCommerce Solutions with a Configurator

If you want to learn how ecommerce configurators might help your customers buy your products online, join us for this MFG eCommerce Success episode to hear Travis Jordan, Founder, MT Solar, and Mike Henderson, Brand Manager, MT Solar share how they used a configurator to allow their customers to buy their solar carport products online.

Do you want to sell products through ecommerce with different options?

If you want to learn how ecommerce configurators might help your customers buy your products online, join us for this MFG eCommerce Success episode to hear Travis Jordan, Founder, MT Solar, and Mike Henderson, Brand Manager, MT Solar share how they used a configurator to allow their customers to buy their solar carport products online.

MT Solar designs and manufactures carport solar panel mounting structures. These structures are custom designed based on the parking layout. MT Solar uses a configurator that lets customers detail the products they need for their parking layout. MT Solar’s products are 100% made in the USA in Charlo, Montana. Since its founding in 2014, their mounts have been installed worldwide.

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Travis Jordan was raised in the mountains of North Idaho in an off-grid home. He started installing solar panels in his late teens and founded Jordan Solar installing commercial and residential renewable energy systems. His installation experience led him to form MT Solar to support practical renewable energy system construction.

Mike Henderson uses his skills in creating media to develop the brand of MT Solar, a Montana-based renewable energy business.

Curt and Nicole warmly welcome Mike, Travis, and Amy to their show, where you are sure to learn how the MT Solar team utilizes a website product configurator so customers can get the design help they need and order the products they want.

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Curt and Nicole’s preliminary discussion revolves around configurators’ relevance to manufacturers. They acknowledge that some viewers may be unfamiliar with the concept. They ask Travis to talk about his background and relate it to his current position.

Travis shares his background and experience in the solar industry. He grew up in a family of off-grid solar users, which sparked his interest in solar and electrical work. His dream was to become an electrician and solar installer, and he pursued that path by obtaining his electrical licenses and starting installations early on.

Travis operates in rural areas, often facing challenges of remote locations, limited access to hardware stores, and the need for custom mounting structures for solar installations. He describes the difficulties of transporting equipment and setting up poles for pole-mounted solar systems in uneven and remote terrains.

Get the most value for your business by understanding the process and preparing for the sale with information here on our Selling a Business page.

As his projects grew, he began fabricating custom mounts due to the lack of available options that met his requirements. Additionally, he mentions his previous experience in manufacturing heavy structural steel in the oilfield, showcasing his entrepreneurial spirit and adaptability in different industries.

Travis reveals that his team identified the need for an improved solar pole mounting solution. They developed and patented a hoisting solution, significantly reducing installation time and manpower.

Nicole commends Travis’ great product.

Curt and Nicole encourage the guest to talk about his patented MT Solar and Montana Solar with a special reference to ecommerce.

Travis relies on customer collaboration and fast feedback. He prefers direct interaction with solar installer customers rather than relying on distributors. They focus on serving customers and designing products for easy installation, leading them to create an e-commerce space. Despite initial customer hesitations, Travis ensured their sales team used the same system, enabling easy updates and remote work. This flexible approach bypasses traditional supply chain discussions. Travis is pleased that customers now appreciate the convenience of their e-commerce platform.

Nicole appreciates Travis for his visionary approach to digital transformation. She then transitions to introducing Mike and expresses the desire to showcase the configurator tool and explore its features before delving into Mike’s background.

In response, Mike explains the functionality of their configurator tool, which is a significant upgrade from their previous system. The tool lets customers input project-related information such as location, installation address, and module specifications. Based on these inputs, the configurator generates a customized design for the solar panel structure. Users can modify various parameters, and the tool dynamically updates the design in real time. This interactive feature enables customers to visualize the growth and changes of their solar panel system as they make adjustments.

Mike’s knowledge of configurators wins the hosts’ appreciation, and they ask Mike “to keep the party rolling.”
Mike continues by demonstrating a test run using their configurator for a common product configuration called a “top 12.” Users can toggle the visibility of the structure and get real-time feedback on size and appearance. The next step involves running engineering checks specific to the location, such as wind speed and snow load. Travis can provide more details on the complex engineering analysis.

Nicole asks Travis to explain the process behind pulling local data into the configurator and expresses her curiosity about the extensive data required for this feature.

Travis credits SkyCiv for automating the engineering review process with their software. The configurator generates a comprehensive report for instant quotes. Customers can design their projects conveniently, and engineering firms review the report for verification. The configurator saves time and allows late-night access and efficient customer proposal discussions.

Curt presents Whitney’s question, which addresses whether Travis feared adding a configurator to the website. In the same breath, the host expresses his love for Travis’ relentlessness.

Travis believes in open source and transparency. Initially, engineers wouldn’t provide information, so he created a spreadsheet-based calculator and posted it on the website. Despite accusations of plagiarism, Travis persisted because he wanted customers to have accurate data for informed decision-making. He believes in staying ahead by doing their job well and welcomes others to benefit from open-sourcing what they can.

Nicole asks Travis about the time savings that customers experience with the engineering built into the configurator.

Travis answers that although using the configurator may add some initial time, it saves customers significant time in the long run. Approximately 15-30% of customers would encounter design issues and delays without the configurator, wasting additional time.

Nicole highlights the continuous nature of e-commerce development and asks for recommendations for those aiming to build a similar tool.

Travis advises embracing failure and modular development. He recommends launching early and adapting based on customer and supplier feedback. He advocates a laser focus on meeting customer needs and says simplicity is the ultimate goal after navigating the complexity. He encourages perseverance and keeping sight of the ultimate goal, as the journey may be challenging but leads to a rewarding outcome.

On Curt’s request, Travis comments on SkyCiv. He praises SkyCiv for its engineering capabilities and iSkySoft for its customization abilities. Travis believes in dividing responsibilities and delegating tasks, comparing it to a CEO who refuses to delegate and tries to do everything themselves.

Travis’ advice proves to be a good mic-drop moment. Curt inquires if Mike has more to share.

Mike adds that their configurator involves multiple teams, and they have recently completed version 1.2. They have added features like maps and CAD drawings for visual representation. The next step is to integrate the e-commerce section where customers can obtain pricing and complete their purchases. Mike demonstrates the “proceed to quote” button, which creates a custom product in their e-commerce store. This process takes time to prepare and determine the specifications.

Nicole appreciates the customizability of the software and Mike’s dedication to catering to the needs of his clients. She says e-commerce can still be successful even if the buying process takes 90 to 120 days for setup, permitting, and other requirements. Having a long sales cycle should not discourage businesses from implementing e-commerce solutions.

Curt commends Travis for the brilliant solution they have created in the B2B space. He asks the guest to explain the process behind this innovation and whether it was an immediate or gradual realization.

Travis reveals that he built the configurator as a salesperson and installer based on his needs. When discussing solar installations with customers, they want to visualize how they will look in their front yards for the next 40 years. Travis wanted to provide accurate and detailed visuals to communicate this information effectively. And it took ten years to develop it.

The guest emphasizes that the configurator is highly data-driven and provides real-time and accurate information. There is no room for approximations or table lookups.

Curt asks Mike if there is anything else he would like to showcase with the configurator before wrapping up. Mike adds that the final step in the process is for customers to choose how to complete their purchase through a credit card, ECheck, check by mail, or receive a QuickBooks invoice. He also mentions that customers can save the quote in their account for future reference when they are ready to purchase.

Mike also discusses his current challenge of providing the right information to customers at different stages of their journey and his efforts in content marketing to address this challenge.

Amy comments on the customer-centric approach Travis and Mike opted for throughout the discussion. She explains how they have collaborated with Mike to understand the needs of installers and customers, gathering information from subject matter experts within the team and experienced installers. The goal is to create helpful content that caters to customers and search engines like Google. Amy emphasizes the importance of providing valuable and searchable information that serves customers’ needs while also being discoverable by search engine algorithms.

Toward the conclusion of the show, Travis discusses the journey ahead, which includes exploring lean manufacturing and enhancing the quality of its products and customer experience.

The show ends with Curt and Nicole thanking the guests.

MFG eCommerce Success

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1:02:02
SUMMARY KEYWORDS
customers, travis, configurator, great, solar, product, engineering, manufacturer, mike, long sales cycle, ecommerce, real, manufacturing, data, love, good, drop, build, civ, sky
SPEAKERS
Curt Anderson, Mike Henderson, Travis Jordan, Nicole Donnelly, Amy Sariego

Mike Henderson 00:00
acts in unison like jumping jacks only if the whole team does a whole team. Alright, ready? Let’s

Curt Anderson 00:10
go. Alright guys, hey, Happy Friday. Happy Friday, man. We’re live in like waivers date Where’s deeming it? I don’t see him on stage here. No,

Nicole Donnelly 00:22
Miss Damon, I miss them. Damon, we miss you. We wish you were here with us. We feel a little lost without you, but we’re just feel lost. We’ll find or find our way.

Curt Anderson 00:31
But hey, you know, he’s in South Dakota. And so like we’re close. We’re kind of in that direction today. So I guys happy Friday. Welcome to Manufacturing ecommerce success. Our dear my brother Damon, Ahsoka is off traveling today. So Damon, we missed you. So I’ve got my partner in crime. I’ve got this cold Donnelly here today. The coal Happy Friday. How are you?

Nicole Donnelly 00:52
Happy Friday. I’m doing good. I had a great week got to see you in the Windy City earlier this week. And we got to meet some amazing manufacturers got to tour so many amazing facilities. So I’m like, I’m on cloud nine. And we get to cap off our week having this amazing conversation with empty solar. And I’m just I’ve been so fired up about this conversation because this configurator that they’ve built is incredible. So can’t wait. I’m excited to dive in. This is super fun.

Curt Anderson 01:22
So we’re going to geek out hard today. So guys, happy Friday. Welcome to the program. And we’ve got Vicki here. John bug Leno’s here. So Hey, John, happy Friday for join us. So guys, drop us a note. Let us know that you’re here. We’re with empty solar. And let’s do some introductions here. So let’s go to Travis Jordan, in my move into my Tana when my favorite songs by Frank Zappa. So Travis Jordan, happy Friday. How

Travis Jordan 01:46
are you doing? doing wonderful. Thanks, Kurt.

Curt Anderson 01:49
Well, hey, President founder brain, the genius behind empty solar is here. So Travis, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule, man. Our week, dude, we are going to geek out hard. My dear friend, Mike Henderson, Michael, how are you, brother? Good morning. Happy Friday.

Mike Henderson 02:06
It looks like I’m having a beer. But this is a company choice where

Nicole Donnelly 02:11
I was wondering I was going to ask but I said you know, just roll with it. It’s okay.

Curt Anderson 02:15
Exactly. Friday. It’s after 12 o’clock here. So hey, we’ve got some great folks here. So a Abigail’s here today. We’ve got Hey, we got Dr. companioned. Or I don’t know if I said that. Right. But hey, welcome, guys. Drop a note. Let us know that you’re here. Amy. Syria ego, Amy. How are you my friend? Hello.

Amy Sariego 02:35
Happy Friday.

Curt Anderson 02:36
Happy Friday. So alright, guys, let’s just dig right in. So empty solar, Nicole, let’s we have a lot to cover. You guys. You do not want to go anywhere. We’re going to go through a full blown demonstration. If you’re a manufacturer, and you’re kind of thinking man, I’ve been hearing about configurators. Or you you’re like, man, that word is new to me. We’re like, hey, could our customers actually create their own product on our website? Yes,

Nicole Donnelly 02:59
they can.

Curt Anderson 03:00
Cole, take it away.

Nicole Donnelly 03:02
Yes, I have to say when I when Mike just first showed me this odor designer several months ago, like literally my jaw was dropping to the floor. It was amazing. I was like, the first thing I thought is there’s so many manufacturers out there that need to see this. So they can actually visualize for themselves how this is possible, because it is. And so I’m just super excited to talk to Travis about what you guys have built because to build 100% You know, e commerce b2b Business is pretty remarkable. And it’s just such a great example to all those folks who are thinking can this be done? Yes, it absolutely can. So let’s talk about it. Travis, I would love to hear a little bit more about your journey. How did you you know, I know you’ve been an installer, a solar panel installer for for many, many years. But what brought you into this industry? And what was it that just led you to start this company? You know, nearly 10 years ago?

Travis Jordan 03:50
Absolutely. Yeah, my folks were off grid solar users before I was born. So I grew up doing solar and battery calculations, along with my fourth grade math and later so there was kind of a natural evolution from there of wanting to learn a little bit more about solar and about electrical. My dream was always when I grew up, I want to be an electrician I want to be a solar installer when I was done so yeah, went on from there and got my electrical licenses and started doing installs pretty much right along with my apprenticeship from day one and this was North Idaho rural back country long way long ways from nowhere. We were before service road on maintained and so my customers were much the same all across the Northwest very rural areas. And we just drag a lot of equipment loaded up however you can drag it in and we not quite packed train but closed I mean it was it was brutal and you get equipment in there. You’re You’re a long ways from a hardware store and then you’re trying to put equipment together and you’re trying to get home for supper and or staying overnight or a couple of days to Get the job wrapped up. So it did end up moving to Montana to run electrical contracting business and continue to do solar installs throughout the Northwest. And in Montana then as well, same in same scenario, they called the Big Sky country for a reason long ways between points, one of the least populated states in the union. And as we kept doing that, we just we just struggled a lot with mounting structures to make sense and treat areas in rough country to put solar on the roofs of these cabins or they need more. It’s not uncommon any more solar than you can fit on a roof. And so pole mounted solar ground mounted solar became very common for the off grid community for many, many decades now. And so it was we would install those we needed high ground clearance, because we’re trying to clear wildlife or trying to clear snow or trying to deal with all of that we needed. We needed to be out, we’re getting shading, so it’s going to be a ways away from the house and I just all the things we were struggling with, and I was just fighting it, I could get a concrete truck to come up and drop the concrete. That wasn’t a terribly big deal. Excavation contractors weren’t a big struggle. But then when it came time to do the actual pole setting, I was kind of at a quandary, I either had to bring a lot of guys and do a lot of scaffolding and it’s uneven ground and became unsafe, and a real challenge or you can kind of fly under the under the wire and and kind of take your life in your hands and wonder if we’re gonna make a home for supper. Frames and bring cranes in but pretty big pieces of equipment that are not as used to being off the beaten track and cost a lot of money to transit out there. You know, two hours from nowhere. It just was really brutal. And as we moved into bigger jobs, we did the first one, we did the largest job in the state of Montana, I think a couple of times in a row there. The first one was in Missoula parking structure. Wow, that we, you know, landed a bunch of large mounts up there. And so we ended up having to fabricate those ourselves, because there wasn’t really anything available to meet what we needed. It was conventional Pole mounts, but this kind of had some custom stuff to it. And my fabrication guys were there with me. We were kind of already toying with some manufacturing actually over in the in the oilfield had been for a couple years. Some heavy structural steel was just a different businesses and entrepreneurs that started up.

Nicole Donnelly 07:24
This is separate from your electrician contracting.

Travis Jordan 07:26
Yeah. By the book, it is what it is. Oh, we were looking at that. It’s like, well, this solar pole mounting needs to get needs to get fixed, I’m fighting in the field. I know other people are fighting the field kind of self defense, we need to do something better. And so we we all kind of put our thinking caps on and came up with this hoisting solution that we’ve been able to patent and, and a lot of rounds of changes later, we ended up with what we have today, which is a hoist double solution that can be installed. And I don’t know, maybe a quarter, maybe less of the man hours with no cranes, no other equipment. Very, very quick and easy. And we hear that I think almost every day of our sales team gets a gets a comment about how quick and easy it is.

Nicole Donnelly 08:13
Yeah. Oh my gosh. And I completely agree. You know, Amy, and I had a chance to talk to some of your customers. And that they just raved about just how easy this product is. And it really is quite remarkable. So kudos to you for innovating and creating something so, you know, groundbreaking really, I mean, I think it’s just such a great product so innovative, that you were able to come up with this. And when you when you created this product was that when you officially launched empty solar was that like when once you designed it, you thought you got the patent? You’re like this is it. We’re going all in on this.

Travis Jordan 08:45
Yeah. Yeah, that is cool. My third daughter was born actually, while we were installing the parking structure array. I ended up bringing a couple of guys down and they were starting to and I got the call and heading home for that and left them there with their lunch boxes. And they had to finish that up. But yeah, so I was I was 10 years ago, and we’ve been chasing that through you know, that was the inception of Montana solar right there.

Nicole Donnelly 09:11
Oh my gosh,

Curt Anderson 09:12
awesome. Hey, Nicole, we’ve got a few comments on Michaels coming off of six months LinkedIn hiatus Michael Well, are there only GTP GPT bucks left? That’s somebody from Mohammed coming in we’ve got Colin from Kenya. We’ve got Whitney Houston’s in the house here today Whitney. Nothing but love for you my friend. Thank you for joining us here. So we’ve got Jeffrey, we’ve got hay bales in the house today. Oh, hay bale. Happy Friday to you. We’ve got Muhammad so Hey, great. Guys. drop us a note. Let us know you’re out there with empty solar, Montana solar. And we’ve got Travis Jordan, Mike Henderson here. The cool let’s keep the party rolling. Yeah, and

Nicole Donnelly 09:53
I just want to say Michael, I promise we’re real. There’s no chat bot. I’m a real person. These are all this is real deal here. Well, good luck with Jax again, if

Curt Anderson 10:01
you make us right.

Nicole Donnelly 10:04
Oh, man. So let’s talk about e commerce when you started the business and you had met, you know, you patented this this remarkable system did you know right away right out of the gate? You’re like, I want to just sell this purely through the website? Or did you have offline sales channel? What did that process look like when you had first? How did you transition

Travis Jordan 10:22
of working closely with the customer and a lot of that comes with like the nail at scale it mentality, you kind of need to know what you’re dealing with. And you need that fast feedback loop. And so the closer you can get your customer, and I resonated so much with our customers, because they were solar installers like me, I mean, a lot of more of my colleagues, we saw each other at the NABCEP shows, we saw each other at the, at the conventions that we would go to for vendors and, and so it just made more sense to me to reach out and visit with them rather than, you know, go through this distributor model. And we did have distributors when we started out but it still, it seemed like the our distributors were always an impediment to our sales process rather than help they they maybe brought us together but to carry on the conversation. It there was so much we could do for the customer that was being impeded by the number of people involved in the channel. And we wanted to better serve our customers. And that’s that was the whole innovation we had designed was to speak to those customers not to speak to our distributors. And so many manufactured items are made to please distributors, they’re made to please stocking numbers or to please ease of stocking on shelves, we didn’t create our products for stocking we created our products to for the ease of installation for our customer. So we wanted to reach those customers and visit with them and interact with them directly. And that’s what drove me right away within a couple of years to say, hey, let’s create an E commerce space for this. And it was it was before its time, most of our customers weren’t interested in spending, you know, multiple 1000s of dollars on an on an online it was too new eight or 10 years ago. But I just, you know, kind of forged on and said, Well, we’re gonna have our salespeople use the same system that our customers are using. And by doing that, we could make sure the system stayed updated and clean. And it allowed my sales team to be distributed. We were doing remote work long before the remote work fad, we had people working all over the country. And it just made it really simple for us. And for me as well, I love to bounce around all over the country and work on projects and work remotely. And I didn’t want to be, you know, nailed down to servers and conventional supply chain discussions. So that’s kind of what drove the whole ecommerce thing. And it took it a lot of years. But we’re finally there now where our customers are aligned with us and agree that it’s it makes sense to do it. Yeah,

Nicole Donnelly 12:51
I love that vision that you had that even though your customers weren’t ready, you knew that that was going to be the future. And you forged ahead, as you mentioned. And I think it was really smart the way that you actually had your sales team using it. So that they could be you know, so that became part of your whole internal process. So that as your sales team was using it, then you could help your customers adopt to that platform. Because anytime you’re going through a digital transformation, I’ve seen it time and time again, with customers that you have, there’s a lot of training and adoption that needs to happen internally for everyone to get on board. And I think by you doing it that way, I think that’s that’s a really great for anyone listening out there who’s considering it, that’s a really great way to kind of baby step it is, you know, maybe your customers may not be quite ready, but go forward anyways, and just get your internal team on board and using it from a sales perspective. So that’s really cool. Well, I want to turn it over to Mike. Okay. Mike Henderson. So Mike Henderson, you know, I think it’s, you know, there’s definitely been an evolution here with E commerce you started out as, as Travis mentioned, and it seems like over time, you’ve evolved to really build this really cool configurator. And I think it would be great to like dive into that now and maybe showcase kind of like, where empty solar is now in that E commerce journey. You know, you’ve been doing this now for almost 10 years sounds like eight years, at least, that you’ve been doing ecommerce and now just recently really building out this really cool configurator and I think it’d be great for you to showcase to everyone here what you’ve built, and then we can talk more about your background because after we dive into the tool, you’re not off the hook. Mike Don’t Don’t you worry, we’re gonna we’re gonna put the spotlight on you. But let’s, let’s talk about this amazing auto designer. So,

Mike Henderson 14:33
okay, let’s take this so this is where we are. Now if you log into our website and you know you have an account, you can get access to this tool. And you know, this is a significant upgrade from what we were doing before you know, is does a lot a lot of things for for us and our customer. So this is this is the basic layout that you see when you go to our configurator and you So what, what you see here is a lot of inputs here on the side that are related to a project. And so just kind of to back up a little bit about our, our product, we manufacture the structure that the solar solar panels sit on, and it’s on a pole, it’s off of the house. And there’s a lot of benefits to that. But there’s also, it’s also a giant sail that’s out there. And in the wind, and there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of things about that, that, that need to be considered when you when you put one of these up. So our customers will come to this designer, and at this point, they should have an idea of their project where the location is the installation address the type of modules that they want to mount on, when I say modules, a lot of people are familiar with solar panels and solar modules, those terms are used interchangeably. So ya know, the, they’ll know the type of modules that they’re going to put on here. And this is all made the order for them based on the conditions at their site, the size of the modules they’re using, etc. And so here on the left side, you’ll see there’s, there’s a lot of inputs for the configurator, the address the module sizes, how big this thing is going to be. And as you change these, you can see, it’s amazing to see it grow live. And

Nicole Donnelly 16:29
like all in real time, look at that, as you

Mike Henderson 16:31
get to a bigger one, you now you need to polls. And you can adjust the tilt. Depending on where you are in the country, you might need a different tilt to optimize your, your collection. And you can adjust the ground clearance off of the we call it front edge ground clearance. And that’s kind of off the end here where the front of the array sits, how high it is. And then there’s some other things exposure, you know, depending if you’re in out on next to a lake, or maybe you’re in the city that can affect things and so forth. So

Nicole Donnelly 17:07
let’s just take a moment here. I mean, this is incredible. In like, in real time you are you’re you’re configuring your solar panel system, like this is a really pretty amazing that Your installers, I mean, just think about the speed and how quickly they’re able to get the information that they need. And we all know that buyers today it’s all about how quickly can you get what I need and how you know. And the detail here too, I think is pretty remarkable that they are able to see so I just want to I mean, like I’ve seen my share of econ websites, and in b2b this is this is pretty special. So I feel like I have to take a moment when I first saw this my head was like exploding.

Curt Anderson 17:47
Hey, we’ve got a couple of comments in the chat. And one thing I’m in Travis, you dropped the bomb earlier and again, like guys is your is your you know, and it doesn’t matter what what profession you’re in, you know, we’re speaking to manufacturers here. You know what Travis said, the closer you can get to the customer, he used the word simple, use the word easy. I want to get ahead. You know, like the customer didn’t even realize that they needed this. But to have the foresight to make this as simple but make the buying process as simple as possible. And I’d say, you know, we always love to preach. How can you help that ideal buyer make a buying decision on a Friday night at midnight, without having to wait for you to open up your door on a Monday morning. And that’s exactly what Travis and Mike did. But hey, we’ve got Paul here. Happy Friday to Paul, thanks for joining us. Kyle says this is such a powerful tool. I couldn’t agree more. Whitney Houston says this is such a powerful feature for customers. Yes, Michael, let’s keep the party rolling my friend.

Nicole Donnelly 18:46
All right, keep it going.

Mike Henderson 18:48
So I’ve loaded up a test run here for one of our most common products and configurations. And this we call this a top 12 It’s It’s 12 solar panels on this pole. And you can kind of turn those on and off if you want to see the actual structure or not, you kind of have a couple of couple of checkmarks here. So once you get everything into it for your project, then you kind of get a feedback down here as to what that is going to equate to we have you know the height and the size of it and some of the so they get this instant feedback. Like how much space is this going to take up in my customers yard and you know, what is going to look like and some of these other things. And so it’s it’s really, it’s a really great tool for them. And so now, the next step of this process, once they kind of have this figured out and they know what they want. We’re going to run some engineering checks on this. And this is specific to their location, it’s going to pull the wind speed that’s in this location and the snow load and we’re going to test it live. So that’s the next step up here. this green button over here, and we’re gonna go out and query a lot of engineering that’s well beyond what I comprehend. And Travis can tell you more about how,

Nicole Donnelly 20:10
Travis, tell us about what went into this because it sounds like it’s pulling in that information locally, which just I can’t imagine how much data that has to be available to be able to pull that in. So while Mike is running this, can you walk us through that that engineering process and what that was like, when you were building out the requirements for this tool, how you’re able to build that into this to this configurator?

Travis Jordan 20:31
Yeah, big shout out here for Sky Civ. That’s the engineering software we’re using. And Sam is one of the founders of that he’s done in Sydney, Australia, I sent him a link, he may have been joined today. And he and his partner started sky Civ from the same frustrations that we’ve all seen with automation that the engineering processes seemed flawed to them, as they got out of school and got into into the engineering mainstream. And so they wanted to see ways to streamline engineering in general. And so what you’re gonna see here is in about though, you know, 30 seconds, we’re going to complete an entire engineering review, using completely automated API calls from Sky Civ, including FAA analysis, finite element analysis, when checks, snow checks, ASCE code checks, if you stack all the code books up that we just ran through, you’re looking at almost an eight inch to a foot tall stack of code books that are updated every few years. And we just went through all of those that pertained. And then there’s a probably a 30, or 40 page report of engineering Hancocks, that’s behind what was just created there, and it’s gonna get saved as a PDF, when Henderson goes on through to get an instant quote. So this configurator is actually doing mostly engineering at this phase. And we’re gonna go on to the next phase and actually show you more visualization of what the actual design was. But that was one of the biggest challenges we had is it’s easy to say this is the size of rack. But many, actually, many engineers told me it’s not reasonable, proper, right, ethical to allow a customer to do design intent themselves, they they haven’t been trained for this, they haven’t had the experience for this. Well, instead, I was able to work with Sam there at Sky Civ and hack that and say, well, let’s just take all the variables out for them. And, yes, it still does need to be, you know, for most jurisdictions, stout. So then we work with engineering firms to take the report that this generates. And this tool, which is now it’s a very constrained tool that does the same checks every time, which are the same checks an engineer does, and most of the work an engineer does nowadays is software work. So they’re able to basically shortcut all of that how they the software, just chain all the checks they’re going to do anyway together, and then take that report, submit it to the engineering firm, who’s comfortable with with Sky Civ as a software company, they can review the report and verify that yes, you know, again, chat GPT Yes, we is on the target. And we are okay with what is happening here. There’s not that no monkey business going on. And 99% of the time, that project can just proceed, which makes it huge for our customers. 11 o’clock at night, I was asked as a solar installer, I wanted to be able to get on at 11 o’clock at night, figure out what I needed and order it or at least get a quote on it. So that I could go to the dinner table the next morning, you know, there’s two hours away and I could sit down at the at the mean at the kitchen table with your customer and go over this proposal. So that’s what this was driven around.

Curt Anderson 23:43
Me gravis, I’m sorry, no cold. Let’s hit a couple of comments. Real quick. So Val, I know Val, you’re she’s loving this because she’s she says configurators for the win. And Dale is here today. Dale, thank you for joining us. This is very resourceful. But Travis, we have a great question here from our dear friend Whitney down in Houston. We call her Whitney Houston. Can you talk about whether you had any fear of adding a configurator to your site? I know some manufacturers hesitate because they don’t want to give a right give away their secret sauce. Whitney? Awesome. That’s a drop the mic question is

Nicole Donnelly 24:15
Yeah.

Curt Anderson 24:17
And again, I love your relentlessness. What’s your thoughts on that question? Right there?

Travis Jordan 24:22
Yeah, I mean it for me, I’ve always believed in open source as much as possible. So early on, I guess my thought was I didn’t there originally, the engineers wouldn’t give us any information. And so I actually went through the code books and wrote a simple hack calculator that was a spreadsheet based. And I posted it to the website using my own calculations that I worked through and the engineers accused me of plagiarizing their work and I says, Oh, I use a different method than you did. So I kept that tenacity, beat my way through it and I posted that and it caused the engineers a little bit of heartburn but I said you know what, right now my customers are having to make things up because they don’t have all the data they need, we can’t wait for all this information, I would rather get good data into my customers hands to make good decisions. And we’ve just always believed that if we do our job, right, we can stay ahead. If someone else wants to come along behind good for them, open source what you can because there’s, there’s plenty of good people out there we can.

Nicole Donnelly 25:22
I just love that mentality so much, because so many times I’ve heard of this conversation, how close you’re staying to your customer, and what they need. And that’s just so key, the closer you can stay to your customer, you’re going to be eons ahead of your competitor, always. And as long as you’re really right there in front of them. I think that’s great. How much time would you estimate that this, this has say is saving your customers by having all this engineering built into this configurator? What would you what would you what would you estimate the time savings would be a little bit

Travis Jordan 25:50
of time upfront, but it saves them time when you know on about, we were seeing way too many I mean, even if it was 15 20%, or 30% of our customers would get through a design that we’d kind of approximated, you know, just use basic hacks and approximated out what they were going to need us a rules of thumb, you know, general tables, which is pretty common in the manufacturing world or the distributor world especially. And then they would get to permitting, and the permitting office would would refuse it and now has to go back to engineering and it ends up being a huge snafu. So maybe it cost them a little bit of time upfront to run the configuration. But they’re getting they’re getting good data rather than hacked made up data.

Nicole Donnelly 26:37
That’s so cool. Awesome, let’s keep it going.

Mike Henderson 26:42
We’ve run the what we call the pre engineering. And one of the features of this configurator is that it starts with kind of the lowest duty the smallest size necessary to fit the situation and test to see if that works. And if that doesn’t work, it bumps it up, you know, which will increase the expense, but it keeps the keeps the cost, you know, at the minimum that they need for their site. And so you can see we have this utilization now. 78%. So that means we’re under under utilized, we have plenty to give in the wind and snow. So we’re ready to now get our quote, such as the next step in the process. So I’ll click on this, and this takes a little takes a little time, this is where a lot of our secret sauce is going to come out. Because now we’re going to create a 3d model that is really detailed, and the customer can really zoom in and see what they’re getting. So we pass this off to a different part of our tech stack that creates this.

Nicole Donnelly 27:43
How long did it take you guys to design and develop this? configurator? Like, what was that process? Like? Oh, my gosh, look at this. This is cool.

Mike Henderson 27:51
No. 3d model. Yeah. Well, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s taken us a long time. It’s I mean, we I don’t know.

Nicole Donnelly 28:04
Yeah, I think that’s a good point. Like it’s always a work in progress, right? It’s never done. There’s always and I think that’s an E commerce. Anyone who’s thinking about it like it’s an evolution, right? What would you recommend to someone who’s thinking about it, that would help them in their journey as they’re as they’re starting to think about building something like this? Do you have any like, recommendations from mistakes maybe that you made or things that you would have done differently? If you were to do it over again?

Travis Jordan 28:31
I don’t know I would say set up yourself to fail early. Your mod to put things in more more modules if possible, and link them together. But you know, always think about redundancy options, ways to work your way around, you know, when this process fails, don’t look for your solution to be finished. Try to find ways to launch early and then capitalize on the things that you your customers and your suppliers have available. Keep your mind really open as far as what what meets your need. Like it’s all about laser focus on your end goal. And your end goal not being the tech can go you want what your customers need is really where you have to focus because there’s a lot of ways to configure a system. And there’s a quote I heard one time that says simplicity and the right answer is the valley on the far side of the mountain of complexity. Found it so it is impossible to get a simple configuration or sales process or manufacturing solution without first climbing over the mountain range of complexity in between. But do not be discouraged by that nasty climb and that nasty point at the top above treeline. Everybody thinks you’re an idiot. Nobody likes what you’re doing and it’s horrible as long as you keep your eye on the goal. And you can survive long enough, you’ll get to the simplicity on the other side and you’ll find some some beautiful space there. It’s

Curt Anderson 30:09
alright, so the call, I guess we gotta go, we gotta call a timeout on that one dude. That was like a total drop. That wasn’t a Mic drop. That was like a moment of silence right there. So we do have a couple comments here. I want to pull up and say, Hey, Whitney, again, the failure, failure to understand putting the time upfront once then reaping the rewards. God bless you when you what a great line and Michael All right, Travis, you ready for this? One? Michael is asking a couple great questions here. And hey, and Gary, what’s your Gary? Gary? Thank God, you’re here because you’re you are man, we are having a blast here. But Michael, as a great question, you’re I guess you had to customize this sky Civ rule engine a bit so that it conforms to code specifics of your design, part one to iSkySoft capable of producing manufacturing drawings, and or CNC code to tool paths. So from E commerce manufacturers

Travis Jordan 31:11
on this, you’re so into my little lovespace race.

Curt Anderson 31:22
You guys need to connect. But Travis, put your mic was picking your love language? What do you think of that comment there?

Travis Jordan 31:28
Let’s keep it really quick on this. The unfortunate fact is that there is no such thing as the perfect tool. So don’t try to go do all your work with a crescent wrench. Even though it might meet everything, you might be able to beat things into submission with a crescent wrench, you might be able to turn knots and you might be able to do other things. But there are right tools for the job. And unfortunately, I have had to learn that that is the fact. So yes, Sky simple work with you. They have a great team to develop that whole piece. And Sam over iSkySoft developed a great company, a great team, we started with him early on, and he’s still doing a great job. And I promised to give him a shout out on this because he, his team of developers do a great job and they will customize that for you. Sky says engineering and that’s where I talked about modular unfortunately, no one and I know I’m gonna say fortunately, fortunately, no one has an all in one solution, because it would cripple us if we tried to go down that road. Here’s my brutal statement for the day. The only way to be nimble and to stay clean on this is to make sure your division of responsibilities becomes Okay, here’s an analogy for it, it becomes the same as the CEO or the founder of a company who refuses to let go and delegate. And he tries to do it all himself. That’s what it would be to have one software tried to own every piece of the stack, it doesn’t work. So this is a raw pinyons. And someone may argue with me oh, well, I can buy this with a bazillion dollar software in it might do it. But in my opinion, I still don’t think they will win. Every time I’ve tried it doesn’t work. This guy says excels at engineering. They kind of do okay, visualization. But that’s not really their space, they’re doing a good enough job to get it crude Henderson flip that models we’re looking at the backside of that I wish we could swing back to the sky set went to while we’re at it. But configure here is who we’re using now and configures handling the 3d visualization. And we’re doing this based on a stripped down glTF model, which is different than the raw data, the sky sift needs, which is more or less a line model and has no raw geometry data. Sky sift doesn’t need all the geometry information that is needed for visualization, you tell the pole cap stripped out a bunch of stuff stripped out, we don’t need it. Configure needs all the pretty pictures. But we’ve got to keep a simple configures who’s doing our 3d rendering at this time doing a great job custom built for us very economical solution. They’re an offshore company, and they’re trying to carve their way into this space. But when you go over cam and manufacturing, we run on shape for that. And I tried hard I beat 1000s of dollars and a lot of brain cells on making onshape do everything. And it has too much information. It won’t work because honestly, Cam and manufacturing data. So unfortunate, infinitely or fortunately, we have to keep these team players just like in a organization working together where you have each of them doing their specialty. You don’t want your sales manager out there trying to run your production. It’s not going to play nice. And that’s what we’re running into a software to and so I had to rebuild a lot of my geometry in each of the spaces. At first I chafed at that. But as I’ve transitioned from you know through SolidWorks and onshape and fusion three, six See, and now sky Civ and configure all modeling spaces. I’ve learned that each of them have needs. And if you tried to put too much in them, you’re gonna fall flat. So again, learn to play modular and learn to help your software’s played to their strengths, and then find ways to tie them together. I don’t know. I’m trying right

Nicole Donnelly 35:23
advice. It’s just like any great team. Right? It How rare is it to find one all star could do everything? Well, right? Yeah,

Travis Jordan 35:32
find one. They’re scary. Because now you know, you’re gonna have all your information siloed in one place.

Nicole Donnelly 35:37
Exactly. I think that’s great advice for any technology. Because a lot of times you hear the software companies that say, Oh, we can do all of this, we can do all this. But your to your point, can you do it? Well, can you do it to the degree of excellence that you want to be able to provide to your customer? So that is such great advice, Kurt? What do you think,

Curt Anderson 35:54
oh, you know, laser focus on the end goal, which is your customer need. Boy, guys, if there’s any take, I mean, there’s this multiple multiple mic drops today. Tons of value from a relentless entrepreneur, visionary. And so don’t let your sales manager on operations, that was another goddess, so

Nicole Donnelly 36:15
true, I can tell you I’ve worked with a lot of sales managers, you do not want.

Curt Anderson 36:20
We’ve got Hey, open may drops a note here. Hopefully, I’m saying your name correctly. This is really amazing. Again, guys, we’re over the top of the hour. If you’re just joining us, we’re here with Travis Jordan. We’ve got Mike Henderson here today. We’re at Mt. Solar out in Montana. And we’re going through a high level, just a wonderful configurator tool. Mike, do you have more that you want to show us here? Okay,

Mike Henderson 36:41
yeah. So, you know, as Travis mentioned, there are a few entities involved in our configurator, I’d probably say there’s four separate teams that have built this. And we’re at this, we’re at this point. Now, I think we just finished version 1.2 of this stage this week, just launch where we’re going to have some maps and some some CAD drawings available for the customer. So they can actually drop this on their location. And we’ve been working on that for months. But really, the next step in this process, after you get the visualization of what you’re going to purchase, is to move on to the true ecommerce section of it where you can get a price and in complete the purchase. And so that’ll be the next step here. And so we got this button here and proceed to quote. And so what’s happening now is a custom product is being created in our e commerce Store for this for this customer for their, for their, their project. And it takes a little bit of time to prep it and see what kind of

Travis Jordan 37:51
I mean, this is, this is version 1.0. Right there. And it’s pretty crude, we’re still working our way through trying to get CAD regenerated. So

Nicole Donnelly 38:00
look at this, a custom product is being created, a new web page is being created just for this product. And you can add this custom product to cart. Yep, that is incredible. Like, it’s amazing. I mean, sorry, I know, I’m like massively cheerleader on this, but I just did, it’s pretty remarkable here, I just have to just, you know, pointed out, so keep going. This is cool. Yeah,

Mike Henderson 38:25
so this is, this is the final spot where they can, they can see their, their product, they can save it, you know, our, our cell cycle is really long. So at this point, they’re, they’re gonna save this and then they’re gonna go talk to their customer, or they might need to go talk to a local permitting office, or there’s a lot this, this product might not sell for 90 to 120 days, our quotes are valid for 120 days, if that gives you an idea of how long the sales cycle is. So

Nicole Donnelly 38:53
just stop there. This works for long sales cycles, how many people out there think that oh, my gosh, e commerce is just you’re going to click and buy. This is working for people that have, you know, need 90 to 120 days to get everything set up permitted all of that before they can purchase and it’s it works, right? Like, you can do this. If you have a long sales cycle. You can do e commerce, if you have a long sales cycle, that should not be a deterrent.

Travis Jordan 39:18
Yeah. Yeah. You might show him some of the advanced things if you scroll down there, Henderson that Tony Yeah,

Mike Henderson 39:25
yeah, so they can always go back to their 3d model from this this product and, and potentially, they can share this with their customer too. We give our, our our solar industry professionals a price that you know is discounted from the MSRP price. And so when they’re logged in, they can see there with the price that they get. But if they were to share this link with their customer, they could view the product at the MSRP price so it kind of can help protect them on that level as well. Oh, Hey,

Curt Anderson 40:00
Mike, I have to interject right there more pure brilliance right there. So Travis I, the b2b space manufacturer, I know it’s constantly ecommerce, the disruption disrupting my channels, what you guys have done apps, man hats off to you, I’m applauding you. This is fantastic. You’re allowing your customer, your distributor to work with their customer. So now not only is this a tool for your b2b space, this is also a great tool for the end user or the consumer. Travis, can you walk us through that process? Was that immediate? Was that kind of a gradual? How did you come up with that slice of genius?

Travis Jordan 40:40
I was the sale. I mean, I was the installer, I mean it so I built my needs. And when you’re sitting there at the kitchen table with the customer, the customer wants to know, what are they getting in their front yard, they’re gonna look at this thing for 40 years. And they want to know what’s it going to look like? And I’m only gonna be there for four days. I mean, I don’t care what it looks like. It was fine in that way to communicate this data on down the chain, and get them pretty pictures. And that’s why I always drove for I want to see it at exactly the tilt it is I don’t want to configurator that kind of approximates may be what it might be. I want a pretty picture. That’s exactly what they’re gonna get down to the bolts and nuts and it’s taken us 10 years to get there. To start hacking that early. I mean, at least at least give them 20 options and then start narrowing it down to that holy grail of

Curt Anderson 41:37
exactly what they’re good. Yeah, so even even playing the role, guys for manufac oh my gosh, Travis, I knew we were gonna geek out really hard. Hey, we’ve got Inger here today. This is incredible. Whitney Houston that blows my mind also thinks that my former employer and comparatively short quote, validity, validity despite the long sales cycle, Jan bugling, on my friend says, configure and are you kidding me? Look, I Miko, let’s keep it going. What else you got here?

Mike Henderson 42:10
Okay. So there’s some few things here in the product date, there’s a file they can download, which has all the extensive calculations and information on

Travis Jordan 42:19
the forum, Henderson and I

Mike Henderson 42:21
open that up, probably kind of just a little idea.

Nicole Donnelly 42:29
A little bit, this is so mind bending, right? Like to be listening can just this is like think of the possibilities. If you’re a manufacturer, think of the possibilities of how you could build this into your business. Just go and look at like, the time it’s taken to build it. But what that time that time investment, how that’s going to pay off long term for your customers is just huge.

Travis Jordan 42:50
So this is just engineering speak. So this is what you give to your engineering and permitting people we really don’t expect our customers to know anything about it actually causes us grief to let our customers have it. Because if you have questions, in the long run, it helps them because they can start submitted to their engineers, and the ones who do understand it understand the way we’re doing the calculations. But there’s load calcs and scenarios for every single member in the entire amount in every single scenario. And we’re working wind and snow load combinations for every point of the compass, every tilt, I mean, there’s just like foundation stuff, just bazillions of calculations that sky Civ is doing for us. And you’re seeing their branding, all that

Mike Henderson 43:31
good Friday afternoon.

Nicole Donnelly 43:34
So my question for you on this is how accurate is this? The end, result?

Travis Jordan 43:41
garbage in garbage out? But no, this is his data. This is data driven as you can get. I mean, we just everything that we can count, we Calc and this is real time accurate. So we’re not cheating anything, everything is actually doing catch real time for that load for that site. For that scenario. There is no there’s no table base, there’s no table lookup, there’s no approximations, it’s real time lookup of real time data on real time calcs based on the latest version of the software and then stored to that product. So that 90 days from now we don’t have to reengineer that or redo it it’s locked into that product and stored there with them. So that we can go back and get that stamp later.

Curt Anderson 44:23
About how about this comment for your Travis My dear friend, Vail I have e commerce. How cool is that? They can download a CAD file too. Are you kidding me? John vogliono control plus p hands to the engineering team. So I will throw

Travis Jordan 44:40
one note in there you notice that that thing was stored up PDF is stored on Amazon AWS and I will tell you that if you want to go down this journey, find yourself some good a good web development team who’s willing to help you store some data to tie all the pieces together and that’s probably your biggest key. You can find all these pieces that will build the separate stages. Like I was saying, but you need that team leader that can bring it together. So either you as a founder have to be somewhat the CTO, or you have to hire a web development company, you can play CTO for you. But then that’s, I think that’s the best way to do it. There may be a manufacturer comes together with this and wants to come figure out how to do it, right. But as a pro software software manufacturer, but I still think you’re probably best to build a team. Interesting, but we’re using EBS, we’re using an AWS server for that, that we that we control ourselves to store all the data. So the data is not that way, we don’t let stuff just just get disenfranchised and stuck with everybody, we I’m kind of like, really picky about controlling my data. And so we do use an AWS server to suck everything together and hold it under my own database. I don’t want to get too far but but keep control your data, you own this data, you’re the manufacturer, you’re in charge, you’re the owner of your company, you’re the owner of your E commerce stack, you need to own your data also. And so a certain piece of that you need to own and it’s just like setting up your team on anything else. You need to own your managers, your managers on their people and set it up accordingly.

Nicole Donnelly 46:09
Another drop the mic moment, I this one, we need to savor the flavor of the strawberry rhubarb pie, Kurt, you need to own your data. Oh, and your data. So good, man. And here it is you got your price, you can add it to the cart and they can they can log in and access this anytime when they’re ready to buy.

Mike Henderson 46:31
Purchase later down the road once already but they can also get a freight quote this is some giant chunks of steel that we’re shipping across the country and so they can cause a UPS quote.

Curt Anderson 46:44
That freight quote is not using you if you’re not using flat rate USPS. Right, Travis?

Travis Jordan 46:52
coffins I mean, they look like Egyptian sarcophagus. They’re huge.

Nicole Donnelly 46:56
So I just have to say freight shipping is such a hard thing to calculate an EECOM. So this is all real lifetime plugged into your your shipping carrier.

Mike Henderson 47:07
Weights. We found it we found a good a good technology company that has a lot of experience in in freight and help us name

Travis Jordan 47:15
again. Interesting. Right now. Editor, editor, editor technologies. Another good shout out to them. All Birkhead and his partner, Ollie are probably the only guys I know that know how to do freight right? On freight on the frame site. So again, enricher technologies, definitely shout out to them good people.

Nicole Donnelly 47:34
Yeah, I think this is also just a testament of how important it is to have good partners and bring the right partners in. Right and because not, you know, like I’m sure that that was hard vetting out the right people to do this did Gillis

Travis Jordan 47:48
street we went down and we’re not gonna work next week.

Nicole Donnelly 47:53
So you got to have that tenacity, right. You knew what you wanted. You had the vision of what you needed and you weren’t gonna compromise on it. You know, that’s finding the right partner. That’s huge.

Curt Anderson 48:04
We’ve got a great comment here from Jared. So hey, where do you go? There’s Jared right there. Jared, thanks for joining us. Happy Friday to you my friend. Those algos are intense. So impressive. Even started out being able to give ranges. I think that’s a great point. And you touched on that Travis? So guys, as a manufacturer, how many times you like hey, can you just give me a ballpark? Is that $10? Is it 100? I was talking to 10,000. You know, the ranges pricing with a configurator would help the customer and internal sales team. You know that Jared? Thank you. I wanted to go there real quick, Travis, how about on the internal side? Like, you know, folks, that clients that we’re working with, they have their configurators man, not only is it awesome as a sales tool, it’s great for SEO purposes. It’s also great for internal Can you talk about what this has done for your internal sales team as as an internal tool,

Travis Jordan 48:54
we make them use the same system everybody else says you can’t put it here without the same as a customer can I? So

Mike Henderson 49:00
so they’re great sentinels for our customer experience.

Travis Jordan 49:05
Aries in the coma pads on the bottom of the cage, you better fix the process. That is

Nicole Donnelly 49:19
such a commitment to simplicity, right? I mean, that’s really great. Hey,

Curt Anderson 49:24
you know what, we’ll do this in one minute. But Val Val has already dropped in the standing ovation right now for free is so difficult.

Nicole Donnelly 49:33
I don’t know are you guys feeling the love yet? Are you feeling like you know your amazingness yet? I don’t know. I feel like we haven’t shared enough. We’ve

Curt Anderson 49:40
got this is incredibly important and enjoyable. So this is just fantastic. So I guess I want to be mindful of everybody’s time. We’re starting to wind down here a little bit. Mr. Henderson. Is there anything else that you would like to show for folks with this configurator

Mike Henderson 49:55
this is really the you know, kind of the end of the process here is is the last step is they can either to complete it with a credit card and ECheck check by mail, we can send them a QuickBooks invoice. And the final stages most common is just to save this as a quote into their account. And they can, you know, they can come back and reference it later once they’re ready to complete the purchase.

Nicole Donnelly 50:19
Very nice. And really

Travis Jordan 50:20
to speak to somebody’s point there earlier, you know, we’ve got so far to go. Yeah, I mean, we’re a long way from the end, because we need to get a way better customer portal space where the customer can view all their documents. It’s a long sales cycle thing, which is it, frankly, stinks for E commerce. I get it. I agree. Everybody’s on board with this. It’s thanks for ecommerce, but they need to be able to store their documents, their CAD drawings, somebody mentioned CAD drawings and Cam drawings and some of that for manufacturing. We’re stealing having to do a little bit of manual process and onshape. Maybe we automate that. And maybe we don’t, the extra review in there for human isn’t always bad. But you know, there’s just a lot left here with the customer portal and account side. Yeah, we’re not done yet. It’s never done. It will never be done. Yeah.

Nicole Donnelly 51:06
Yeah. Nice to hear that. That was one of my questions. What’s next for empty solar. And it sounds like just continuing to just improve this experience is really what you’re looking to do and make it as easy for your customers as possible. Mike, what do you what, you know, I’d love to just talk a little bit more about you’re the brand marketing guru at empty solar and tell us like, what, what is it that you’re just loving about your role on the team and the vision that Travis is cultivating there? What do you see looking ahead for empty solar, and you know, what, what gets you juiced up and fired up about what it is that you’re part of?

Mike Henderson 51:39
Well, I think hopefully, we gather that Travis is really committed to the customer experience, you know, the whole product is built on improving their experience. And so it’s exciting for me, it’s something I can be really proud to present and to try to tell the story of, and, you know, once once we get someone to try the product, they are there, they convert, they’re, they’re become loyal instantly. And they’re like, why didn’t I do this years ago? What have I been doing and really satisfy? You know, it’s someone that’s trying to promote a brand, it’s really satisfying and inspiring. So, so yeah, I think just continuing to find out what the customer needs and how we can improve their experience at every touchpoint with our, with our company, you know, and whether that’s in the planning phase, or whether that’s in the sales process, or in the final installation, every every one of those experiences is really important. And improving that is key. So right now I’m doing a lot of content marketing, trying to build up a lot of information. So a customer can really get what they need the point they are in their their journey, their customer journey. And and that’s it, that’s a challenge. There’s a lot of information, this is a high information product. Yeah. And the and our customers are completely different spectrums of where they are in that journey, and identify where they are. And to get them the information they need is my current challenge.

Nicole Donnelly 53:13
Yeah, oh, I love it. I mean, I can echo everything you said, as a partner of yours from the beginning, when Amy and I had the chance and opportunity to talk to your customers one on one and just feel the enthusiasm and just the evangelism they have for the product for us as a partner was really excited to be a part of that, to be a part of promoting that. And it’s just been such a joy for us to be part of that journey. You know, one of our mantras is how can we help our customers profitably out teach the competition. And so I think you know, everything that you’re doing, Mike, in terms of just really positioning yourself as educating, helping them understand even through this, this configurator, that’s what you’re doing, you’re educating them on the process and helping them. And so yeah, we’re just we just love being a part of it, and what you’re doing there. And, Amy, I want to turn it over to you, you know, want to give you a chance to talk a little bit about how you and Mike have been working together on the content marketing side, and maybe share a little bit about some of the strategies that you’ve been developing and helping to help build out some of this content.

Amy Sariego 54:16
Yeah, I think it goes all goes back to what Travis and Mike have been saying this whole time, like everything has been about the customer. And so what we’ve really done is just tried to work with Mike to identify what the installers and the customers needs. And then do some subject matter experts, of which there are many both on your team and installers and get the information, which I think it’s really great that comes from the installers that are currently doing it and to be used by the installers that are maybe newer to the process. Yeah, and then just working to make sure it’s really helpful content for the customer and then also for Google and the the AIS out there that are crawling the websites. But yeah, I think it’s finding that marriage of it usefulness and searchable.

Curt Anderson 55:03
Well, Nicole let’s go here for a second before we lose people to we’re coming in the bottom of the hour wherever you’re coming to us from and maybe you’re jumping on to the next call because we’re going to give Travis last word here but before we go there if you’ve been mad first off was this is just mind blowing or what so I’m coming back to my dear friend veil veil so standing ovation So guys, if you’ve been sitting down for the past whatever hour it’s been, it’s a great opportunity. We opened up with jumping jacks if you want to jump up and knock out give Travis and Anderson just a standing ovation, brilliance inspiration and like I have chills, I’m ready to run through a wall right? Because it’s so exciting. Look at what manufacturers can do. Yes. And when we think about manufacturers like behind the curve are not tech savvy. Boy, we just dispelled that myth right here live and action on manufacturing ecommerce success. So Travis, want you to take us home? Your vision future for empty solar? What’s ahead of us on the horizon?

Travis Jordan 56:07
Yeah, I mean, I think we’ve got a we’ve got a good a good run here for working straight with our customers. There’s, you know, future products and we need to develop and you know, a big one is just been building teams. That’s, that’s such an important part. And we’ve got a wonderful team in each of the spaces in Henderson, big shout out to him for heading up our team on the branding and, and built website stuff. He’s been working with me for what almost 15 years now kind of different projects and here and there. And when he was finally willing to jump in, serial entrepreneur in a few ideas, I tend to leave things I’m always looking for the next big horizon and always playing the visionary role. And I need so many of these great people to come along behind and help help flush everything out. And I’ve been blessed with a bunch of really good people on all the different teams you know, sales and, and Henderson on marketing and we’ve got Mike Gillan and chance over in production that helped finish that out. And of course, my partner Don woods, he takes care of all the financial stuff keeps us keeps us on the straight and narrow, which some of us just don’t do a good job. Nobody can do everything well, so we’re gonna hopefully come in with with our mounting structures. We’ve been hearing some good feedback from our customers or some features they’d like and so we’ll start trying to bring them into the manufacturing. Wow, what a journey might Guillen’s would bring us to the lean manufacturing space trying to get more machining implemented. Just kind of affirm up the space where we’re at and you know, improve the quality of the product and the customer experience. Man what a journey there’s always something to work on. So much fun.

Curt Anderson 57:52
Always something hey, so Whitney says this was awesome and Gary Woods says love the strawberry rhubarb pie. Here Mike and Travis we just we when when somebody says something that’s just a slice of brilliance. It’s just like Nicole’s and BB strawberry rhubarb pie, man. Just savor the flavor. So the goal let’s start winding down and close it out. And so first off what so much to unpack here I feel like I have a full simplicity laser focus on the end goal which is your customer need, you know build that team Travis I love what you just said you know about like, hey, you know what you’re good at. You’re the visionary and you’re just building that killer team behind you delegating and just you know getting the All Stars rock stars behind you to make the dream come true. You just you know the technology piece guys if you came in late, boy just a great Hey done. Dad says Hey, Gary, would that strawberry rhubarb pie with a little in Miko says, hey, great insights and standard potential issues with implementation is crucial. crucial. The crescent wrench not only not always broke, so that was just another slice of brilliance there. So Nicole, why don’t you take us home? And let’s let’s let’s wrap things up.

Nicole Donnelly 59:17
Yeah, there were so many great moments. I love what you said Travis about simplicity is the valley on the other side of complexity. And I think for so many of us that are in the messy middle, wherever we are just you know, whatever business you’re building, whatever team you’re on. Right? When you’re in that messy middle, it feels so complicated. And you just like Travis said, you just got to keep pushing through and just really be as tenacious as he’s been about trying to get to that other side and try to make it as simple as possible. And yeah, I think this is just such an inspiring story about just what’s possible, you know, I mean, here you are, Travis, you’re you don’t have an engineering background. You know, and you just were tenacious about trying to figure it out, learn everything you can and Get the right partners involved, you know, and really just relentless about it. And so I think that’s a great example to anyone out there that really nothing can stop you. If you have a vision. If you have something that you want to achieve, and you have a clear vision of where you want to go, then it’s just a matter of tenaciously getting the people in the right place and commit to just really diving in and figuring out as much as you can, because you figured, you know, Travis, think about you’ve learned from the engineering perspective, I’m sure. So I just I think this is just a great example to so many people, I appreciate you sharing your story and your inspiration and Mike it’s so amazing to be able to work with you and see how you’re helping to bring this to life to then your pardon is just so huge and so critical and that customer experience so well done to both of you it’s such a pleasure to have you guys on the show and get to work with you regularly it’s such a joy so and next month I can’t wait to come see you I’m coming I’m gonna knock on your door and you have no choice in the matter I’m coming. You better let me in or

Mike Henderson 1:01:02
pie with ice cream.

Curt Anderson 1:01:04
Warning. So hey, we got a great job folks. So again, guys, thank you. Thank you to everybody in the chat box. Boy we just appreciate you week in and week out for join us. We just we love bringing just incredible inspiring entrepreneurs like Travis great marketing gurus like our friend Mike Mike, we met a couple years ago coming through, you know, our training sessions and so it’s just wonderful, you know, riding the journey with you the past couple years. Amy thank you for joining us my dear friend It’s always an honor privilege to share the stage with you the call man was this good so guys, we’re gonna close out Travis Michael hanging out with us for one second. And guys what we’d love to close out with just be someone’s inspiration, man, just go out and be someone’s inspiration. Just like Travis just like Mike, go out. Keep crushing it. We will see you next week. Have an amazing, incredible weekend. God bless you and we’ll see you soon. Thank you guys, everyone.

Nicole Donnelly 1:01:58
We’ll see you soon.

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