Mark Bauer, an evangelist for clean energy, has some useful ideas
for promoting the technology and the business.
By Mark Bauer
When I launched Bauer Power
in 2002, the goal was to help local
businesses to reduce their impact on
the environment. In this I enjoyed the full support
of my wife Chris, a scientist at the Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality.
The company actually grew out of my
experience as a residential contractor, but I
had some advantages over my peers in the
construction business. I’d run a successful
computer company, which taught me something about practical engineering. I’d been a
traveling salesman for an art supply distributor, so I knew about sales. And I’d been a
Marine, so I knew how to get things done.
We specialize in the installation of solar
electricity, wind electricity, solar water heating
and solar pool heating, in Michigan and across
the Midwest. I learned right away that a wind-and-solar company often has to create its own
local market. Homeowners and small businesses may have read about distributed power,
but sometimes they need help making the
connection to their own operations.
solar thermal systems to generate heat on
the floor. With this sustainable system in
place, Elzinga & Hoeksema Greenhouses will
grow acres of plants and organic vegetables
for Meijer grocery stores across the Midwest.
I hope we’ve started a revolution in efficient
Growing to this level in six years required
persistent promotion. Here’s my checklist
for getting the word out, the foot in the door
and the programs in place.
Develop relationships with—
• Local media: Write letters to the editor and communicate with local media
• Environmental groups: You share their
goals and can help them with tools. Sponsor
public relations, create a brand new website
( bauerpower.com) and more.
Communicate with your legislators:
Keep up on state and nationwide renewable
energy initiatives and let your representatives know what you need. I’m working hard
to get a renewable portfolio standard passed
here in Michigan.
Provide quality service and products:
Bauer Power has many referral jobs based on
past projects. Word of mouth is very powerful!
Educate: We do seminars right here in
the office, and I teach courses at the Grand
Rapids Community College and through the
Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association,
an ASES chapter. We educate folks at any
meeting or function that will have us.
I’m convinced that Michigan will be a
leader in alternative energy, and that my
business will grow as part of that. Michigan
has dormant manufacturing plants waiting
to get back online, and let’s not forget the
skilled workers accustomed to production
manufacturing jobs. In addition, Michigan
is a central location for transportation routes.
The Midwest has the largest need for energy in our country, and Michigan, located
right smack in the middle, is the 14th windiest state in the nation. With class IV to class
VII winds near Lake Michigan, we could
Growing to this level
in six years required
For instance, we’re working on the largest
solar installation in the Midwest, a 200-col-
lector job for Elzinga & Hoeksema Greenhouses in Portage, Mich. In our first visit, I
noted that the gas-burning heating units
hung under the peak of the glazed roof, with
electric fans to force hot air down toward the
“That’s crazy inefficient,” I said.
The owner replied, “Well, this is the way
all greenhouses do it.”
I knew it would be more efficient to generate heat at ground level, closer to the plants,
and let it rise naturally. That was an easy concept to explain. We worked with GMB, an
engineering firm out of Holland, Mich., and
they designed a system using geothermal and
Mark Bauer with the 200-module array for greenhouse heating his company built.
their functions. Their members are prime
• Join groups with sustainable/renew–
able energy goals: Bauer Power supports a
number of organizations. For instance, we
recently joined the Southwest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum as a founding member, and I’m a Lifetime Member of ASES.
• Find professional help to get your name
out there: We enlisted Kalamazoo-based LKF
Marketing to freshen our branding, revamp our
trade-show backdrop and materials, handle
produce enough energy for three states just
from wind power alone.
Americans will continue to need and
want power. The fact is that our very existence relies on energy. Let’s work to make
sure we can get it from reliable, clean, inexpensive sources, close at hand. ●
Mark Bauer is president of Bauer Power,
regional distributor for Schüco and an authorized
dealer for Sharp, SMA, Southwest Windpower