Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us a little about your company.
Reid Hamilton: Hamilton Solar was started about two years ago. I have two partners Steve Hamilton, who is my dad, and Chad Dickason. I met Chad while trying to sell and install my first few solar jobs. After working together on a few jobs it made sense to combine his solar knowledge with our local building knowledge. Since then, we officially licensed Hamilton Solar 16 months ago we have grown from three employees to 36. We specialize in residential, commercial and governmental solar.
NNBW: What role do you play in the company?
Hamilton: Being a small company, we all wear a lot of hats. I spend most of my time managing operations for the residential and small commercial development. I also oversee the sales and marketing.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Hamilton: My dad, Steve Hamilton, has been a home builder in Reno for about 25 years. I was working for him and became very interested in green building science, especially solar. About three years ago we started installing solar on every home that my dad built. There was a great amount of interest from past home owners and the general public in installing solar their existing homes. I saw the opportunity to step out from home building and start a solar company.
NNBW: What are some of the skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
Hamilton: I probably should not say this, but solar is not rocket science. Yes, there are some very important technical skills one will learn once they get involved with when building solar arrays. Solar really is a financial sale. So if you understand numbers and are good with people you could be a great sales person.
NNBW: If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn't it your first choice?
Hamilton: I love what I do. It is very easy to feel good about what we do every day. We are in the business of saving our customers money while helping out the environment. Since I know I will never become a professional surfer, working in solar is a profession I am very passionate and excited about.
NNBW: What do you like to do when you're not working?
Hamilton: I am an outdoor enthusiast. I love mountain biking, rock climbing, surfing, paddling and snowboarding. I am the most happy when I can be outside enjoying nature, whether it be out backyard or on the other side of the planet.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Hamilton: Hustle. There are tons of companies getting into solar. Between all these new companies popping up and the California companies entering our market, it is very competitive. We try to work harder and more efficiently than our competitors.
NNBW: What person, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with, and why?
Hamilton: Captain Cook. I have always been impressed with people who are willing to just jump in head first and go for it. Captain Cook's adventurist sprit is something I admire. I try to live my life with the motto, "You don't know until you go." Yvon Chouinard, would be my second pick. He is the gentlemen who started Patagonia. I love the way that his company functions. I hope one day that Hamilton Solar can provide as much aid as Patagonia does.
NNBW: Would you rather be younger, thinner, richer or smarter? Why?
Hamilton: Well, I am still pretty young and thin so I guess it comes down to bucks or brains. I guess I would have to say richer. I am far more street smart than book smart, which I believe has helped me to date. But that has not made me any real money yet. The money would help Hamilton Solar get to the next level and help me see more of the world.
NNBW: What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Hamilton: Hire people smarter then you. This is pretty darn easy for me. Also my dad has taught me to always leave money on the table for the customer. You will receive much more return with repeat customers versus trying to squeeze every penny out of every deal.
NNBW: What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?
Hamilton: My job is amazing. I feel great every day knowing that we are saving our customers money, increasing the value of their property and helping create a cleaner, safer environment. The amount of time and energy is takes to start and run a new business can be taxing. But like I said before, we believe it comes down to hustle. So we are putting in our time right now.
NNBW: What are five things you can't live without?
Hamilton: 1. My wife Logan; 2. my friends and family; 3. my healthy mind and body; 4. my outdoor gear; 5. my dog, Zephyr.
NNBW: What does the content of your refrigerator say about you?
Hamilton: That I try to eat healthy and I love Jagermeister!
Name: Reid Hamilton, principal in Hamilton Solar
How long have you been in this job? About two years
Education: Marketing degree from UNR
Best book you've read? "In Search of Captain Zero"
What's on your iPod? "Dirt Bag Diaries," an outdoor podcast
The best movie ever? Thomas Crown Affair
Spouse, kids or pets? Wife Logan and "yes-she-is-a-girl" boxer, Zephyr