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PHOENIX (Semper Solaris) – Service is more than a word or idea to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s a calling, a lifestyle choice that lasts far beyond their time on active or reserve duty.
It’s part of their very core, even in the civilian world. Fighting for and defending the freedoms many Americans take for granted is in their DNA, and it’s not limited to the battlefield.
Kelly Shawhan, a former Marine captain, and John Almond, who grew up in a Navy family, embody the values of the U.S. Armed Forces and made them a bedrock of the company they founded and built together. Semper Solaris is the largest and one of the most-respected solar, battery storage, roofing, and heating and air contractors in the country, and it’s because of Kelly and John and the military mindset they employ in every aspect of their business.
The name - Semper Solaris – harkens back to the motto of every Marine. Semper Fidelis means Latin for “always faithful.” Kelly, John, and their company are exactly that, not only to their clients but also to their employees and to veterans all over the country, including here in Phoenix.
Kelly and John worked together in the solar industry before creating Semper Solaris. They learned a lot during that time, including where they could significantly improve the customer experience. They decided that the honor and integrity that are the heart of service would be central to their company. In business for almost 12 years now, Semper Solaris, which maintains an impressive A-rating with the Better Business Bureau, clearly is doing everything right.
“It’s an interesting time in our country,” John said. “There’s this idea that you can put solar panels on your roof and generate electricity. What’s amazing to me about it is that the infrastructure is already in place, so there should really be solar panels on every home in the United States.”
Energy independence with Semper Solaris
The technology is designed and developed to work with the existing infrastructure. It makes sense in a place like Phoenix, where we see an average of 300 sunny days every year. But solar power is not limited to daytime use.
“You can generate the power with your solar panels, you can store it in the battery, and then you can use the power when you need it,” John explained. “When you think about it, that’s a whole lot of freedom.”
“I’m really grateful for the infrastructure we have,” he continued. “But we’re subject to something called the monopoly. You’ve got to buy electricity from the power company at whatever price they put forward. That’s what you have to pay. It’s not like you’re not going to use the electricity; you don’t have an option.”
With solar panels and batteries, Semper Solaris creates an option for you.
“You can be in control of how much your electricity costs, and you’re contributing to a good cause using green energy and putting fewer pollutants into the air. It’s the perfect system.”
“In America, we stand for freedom and independence,” John continued. “And if you want to put solar panels on your roofs and you want to put batteries on the side of your house, you can have freedom from the electric company, which is a wonderful feeling.”
It’s a feeling Kelly and John want to give to those who have served our country. They decided early on that at the first opportunity, their company would give back to veterans. That’s what the Semper Cares initiative is all about.
Kelly and John created the Semper Cares Initiative not long after they established Semper Solaris. It was a no-brainer for them. Throughout the year via nominations, a handful of deserving veterans are chosen to receive a solar energy system, roof, and/or a heating-and-air system, at no cost to the homeowner. They were in a position to give veterans freedom from the electric companies that John talked about. So, they did.
“It was natural that we figured out a way to start giving back to veterans,” John said.
They put the business partnerships they’ve built to work to provide veterans with a free solar energy system, and sometimes a new roof or heating-and-air system. Free. No hidden costs or fees. No strings attached.
“It’s been really heartwarming the way our suppliers have been willing to donate the materials,” Kelly said.
With that assistance, Semper Cares can do whatever the recipient needs. If they need a new roof to support their new solar system, they get it. In addition to solar, batteries, and roofing, Semper Solaris also does heating-and-air systems, also known as HVAC.
Phoenix veteran is Semper Cares recipient
“This can be life-changing for our recipients. This could benefit somebody who might be struggling month to month paying for unreal utility bills to having the freedom to use energy as they need, the chance to take a breath and provide something for their families without constantly worrying about making ends meet.,” explained Courtney Day, brand manager at Semper Solaris.
To say the assistance is appreciated is an understatement.
“The reactions are unbelievable,” Kelly said. “It’s really wonderful.”
“It actually brought tears to my eyes.”
The first gift from the Semper Cares Initiative was Project Alpha. Today it’s up to Project Sierra, and it has no intention of stopping. As long as Semper Solaris is in business, Semper Cares will be part of it, and they are always looking for new recipients.
Each Project starts with a nomination. It can come from a spouse, a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, a teacher, a student – anybody who wants to share a veteran’s story and honor their service and sacrifices.
“We need the public to help identify these warriors, to tell their stories and make a difference in their lives,” the company says.
“This is completely free to the recipients of our Semper Cares Initiative,” Courtney said. They do not pay a dime. “We’re able to team up with some amazing partners who donate their equipment, and we take care of the rest.”
Once Semper Solaris selects a recipient, the real fun begins.
“There’s nothing but hugs and smiles and happiness [when we do the installation],” Kelly said. “It always seems to be a bright, sunny day every time we do one of these things. It’s just like boom! The sunshine is on because everybody knows it’s going to be a great day.”
Semper Cares also has a forward-looking component to invest in future generations. They do it with a scholarship program designed for “exceptional high school and college students who are dedicated to helping our planet by using alternative energy.” Semper Cares awarded more than $20,000 to students last year.
Semper Solaris walks the walk
“There’s a lot to love about this company,” Courtney said. “We really want to support the community. We get involved as much as we possibly can.”
Semper Solaris is dedicated to taking care of veterans, and not just through Semper Cares. Kelly and John hire veterans whenever they can. You can meet some of them on Semper Solaris’s website.
“When I got out of the Coast Guard, I really wanted to find a company I could work with that would share core values of integrity and honesty,” said Brandon Coleman. He found it with Semper Solaris.
Everyone in the company understands that it can be difficult to transition back to civilian life. They make that challenge a little easier.
“The transition was surprisingly smooth for me,” he continued. “I really don’t see myself as a sales representative as much as a facilitator for a product that people want.”
“We want to provide a great safe working space with like-minded people,” Courtney said. “When you go into the service, you’re gaining these military values – honesty, integrity, responsibility. You’re committing to completing a mission. We hold those same values at Semper Solaris and we want to share our veterans’ stories.”
Marylinn Raptis was among the first females to integrate into the surface combatants in the Navy. She also was one of the first female instructors at the Naval Submarine School. Like Coleman, she found a home at Semper Solaris.
“This company, the people here, they uphold the core values in any branch,” she said. “They don’t have to be in the military to have honor and courage and be committed to the job and making sure it’s done right and done right the first time.”
“To actually get a job that works with veterans, it means a lot,” former Marine Tish Avila said. “Going solar American style means that if you have an issue with something, obviously we’re going to be there to help. It’s our product, so we’re going to be the ones to help you.”
That includes what Semper Solaris calls “unparalleled warranties.” The default warranty on the solar panels, for example, is 25 years.
Not only is Semper Solaris a veteran-owned company, but it also supports our country in every way it can.
“We install the best, top-of-the-line products that are made right here in the USA,” explains SemperSolaris.com. “We also offer a veteran and first responder discount as well.”
Going solar American-style is smart
The truth and bottom line when it comes to solar power and battery storage is this: It’s a smart decision, both financially and environmentally.
“If you buy the solar panels, at some point, you’re going to break even,” John said. “Once you make your money back, your electricity is free. It’s free.”
Early in the solar business, it was expensive to get started, and many fly-by-night companies left customers hanging. That doesn’t happen with Semper Solaris.
“You can finance the system, and typically, we can arrange it so that the payment is less than your electric bill,” John explained.
While solar power is for everybody, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
“We’ll look at your historical energy consumption, discuss your future energy goals, and design a system that is built specifically for your home and your energy needs,” Courtney explained. “We want to give you the best value for the best-quality system you can have in the solar space.”
“Semper stands out from the rest of the solar installers because we offer a great product - American-made products - and amazing quality, at a great value,” she continued. “We also take care of our customers. We want to make sure that we’re really giving our customers the best experience possible.”
It all goes back to those military values, including honesty and integrity. Semper Solaris has earned its outstanding reputation, and from the co-captains down through the ranks, the team continues to build it each day with every customer.
“Word of mouth is huge for us,” Courtney said. “We have the happiest customers out there. We provide solutions that work directly for them and their homes. Not only is it about sharing solar and helping the environment, but we help our customers. We truly give them that freedom, that security, that reliance on their own home. They’re able to generate their own energy, and that gives them peace of mind, freedom. That, I think, is rewarding.”
I want solar! How do I get started with Semper Solaris?
Schedule a consultation to learn how solar fits into your life and budget. There are two paths you can take – outright ownership of the panels or a lease from Semper Solaris. That lease option gives homeowners an easy and affordable entry into solar. Either way, you have a say in how much money you save.
Courtney suggests you ask yourself this question: “Do you want to save the entire amount of your utility bill every month, or do you want to offset that [bill]?”
You can feed excess solar energy your home produces back into the grid to get credit from your utility company, or you can store it in batteries for your own use at any time.
“If you wanted to offset [your bill] with a better rate, get those [variable] rates locked in for the monthly loan price, a solar panel system is an amazing option for you,” Courtney explained.
But there’s also the freedom John talked about.
“If you really want to gain that independence from the utility company, we would recommend going with solar panels plus a battery. That way, everything you generate over what you’re using during the day gets stored in that battery for you to use in your home at night. You’re not relying on the utility company, and you’re not paying those high rates.”