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NM Solar Group is on fire

NM Solar Group installed this ground-mounted residential solar system in Alamogordo using a racking system made by Unirac in Albuquerque. The company has seen explosive growth in the past two years. COURTESY PHOTO

NM Solar Group is blazing a sun-fueled trail to success with explosive growth across the state.

The homegrown Albuquerque startup, which launched in 2015, won the New Mexico Small Business Administration’s 2019 Entrepreneurial Success Award after growing its revenue from $600,000 in its first year of operations to $9.5 million last year.

“We project $20 million in revenue in 2019,” said company founder Ryan Wallace. “We have more than 70 employees now, and we expect to expand beyond 100 by year-end.”

It’s been near spontaneous combustion since 2015, when Wallace started the solar installation company in the garage of a rental home in Albuquerque with business partner and electrician Matt Schmutz.

Wallace, an experienced salesman and former stockbroker, personally sold the company’s services door-to-door in the metro area.

“I sold each job myself,” Wallace said. “We’d hire guys to do the installations and oversee everything. We got a good foundation going that first year.”

By 2016, the partners had moved their headquarters to a facility near Candelaria and Carlisle. And in 2017, they opened an office in Alamogordo, buying an 8,000-square-foot building and hiring a local team to serve southern New Mexico.

That year, the company reached $3 million in revenue, fueling further expansion into Las Cruces and El Paso. And last fall, the company bought another 10,000-square-foot facility in Roswell to serve eastern New Mexico.

They’re now moving headquarters to another facility they purchased in Rio Rancho.

“We now have four locations around the state where we own the buildings,” Wallace said. “That helps keep costs down.”

Wallace attributes the rapid success to pricing and honest service.

“We operate off a 10 percent profit margin and we don’t allow our sales reps to ratchet up the price for a higher commission,” Wallace said. “We offer direct customer service to provide the best product to clients, and we always do what we say to make things right.”

To date, NM Solar has installed more than 1,000 residential systems, including ground-mounted installations. It’s now moving into commercial markets, and it recently added roofing and air conditioning services.

Last fall, Wallace decided to turn NM Solar into an employee-owned business through a stock ownership plan to distribute all profits going forward among the workers.

“Any W2 employee on payroll is now part of it, from the lowest to highest paid worker,” Wallace said. “Everyone is getting shares in the company.”

The company earned this year’s SBA performance based on outstanding growth and performance, said NM SBA Deputy District Director Ivan Corrales.