According to a recent report from The Solar Foundation, the U.S. solar industry employed 143,000 people as of November 2013 – up 20 percent from 2012. Employment in this industry is expected to increase an additional 16 percent in 2014. Enter Bend, Oregon’s ZAMPSOLAR.
Two Bend based entrepreneurs, Steve Nelson and John Yozamp, began Zamp Solar in 2010. Ensconced in a 7,000 square foot design, manufacturing and distribution facility on Parrell Road in Bend, they currently employ ten. Sales growth has been remarkable with 50 percent year-over-year growth from 2011 through 2013 – coupled with projected growth of 30 percent in 2014.
Zamp Solar designs, assembles and sells power inverters (supply AC power converted from 12v DC batteries), portable solar charging systems, magnetically mounted solar battery chargers for construction and agricultural equipment, and an array of both portable and hardwired solar charging units for RV’s, and solar charging expansion kits. Frankly, their products address any device that requires a charge from one or more 12 volt batteries. Zamp Solar’s products are designed to extend the life of the typical 12 volt battery by keeping it topped off via a solar charge — throughout the year.
Their products are sold throughout the U.S. and parts of Canada by 4-500 authorized dealers. Most are RV dealers. Zamp Solar also enjoys 50-100 OEM relationships with major RV manufacturers like Fleetwood – where Zamp Solar’s products are installed on new RV’s at the Fleetwood’s manufacturing facilities. The company is a member of the RV Dealer’s Association and the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. RV owners enjoy the product as it allows them to have an ample supply of AC power they can use when they are located in places (campgrounds, State and National parks) that prohibit them from using their on-board generators during certain hours (typically 7pm to 7am).
“We’re coming up with new product applications all the time,” according to CEO Steve Nelson. “Road signage, construction zone signs, CPAP machines, the marine industry, the automotive industry — anything where 12 volt mobile solar is a solution. Consider the farmer in John Day who has to buy 3-4 new batteries a year for his farm machinery – or the excavator whose yellow metal sits for months during the winter, Zamp Solar units now keep those batteries alive year-after-year and saves these types of enterprises real money.”
The company currently procures solar panels from China. They complete the final assembly, packaging and distribution to their dealer network and OEM’s from Bend. This could change. At present, The U.S. International Trade Commission is investigating an anti-dumping complaint against solar panel manufacturers in China and Taiwan, filed by U.S. solar panel manufacturers. The ITC could level additional tariffs against these panel products imported from these two countries. If this occurs, Zamp Solar will procure their panels from manufacturers in India, Malaysia and elsewhere. Nelson adds, “We’d like to buy from a U.S. solar panel manufacturer but the pricing is currently prohibitive.”
What’s the future outlook for Zamp Solar? “The sky’s the limit,” according to Nelson, with a wry smile. “We’re fielding inquiries from the warehouse stores and big box retailers (Lowe’s, COSTCO, Home Depot etc.) for our portable line of products. We’ll see.”
61235 Parrell Rd, Bend, OR 97702
Principles: Steve Nelson, John Yozamp
No. Employees: 10
Year Established: 2010
Product/Service: Specializes in solar charging for 12 volt battery systems. Kits and hardwire units for RV, Marine, off grid applications; cabins, ATV, ORV, CPAP machines. Construction and agricultural equipment, and the automotive industry. Hot News: The big box retailers are looking at their portable product line. Outlook for Growth: The sky’s the limit.