A Day in the
Solar Work Life
The term door-to-door salesman is antiquated. David Brands is
really more of a roof-to-roof salesman — he searches neighborhoods for solar-ready rooftops using Google Earth and then goes
knocking, and that’s just one of his tactics to bring solar to every
San Diego rooftop.
A senior solar energy consultant at Clary Solar
in San Diego, Brands started selling solar in 2002,
at Uni-Solar. In 2005, Uni-Solar discontinued its
San Diego sales operation, and Brands moved on
to DSH Solar and World Water & Solar until each
was bought by other companies. He worked as a
self-employed solar consultant for two years before
joining Clary Solar in June 2010.
He was initially trained to sell residential sys-
tems, which was intensive, he said. “It was total
immersion for five days, eight hours a day. The
first year working in solar I learned the most. We
learned about PV, economic factors, incentives and
really everything in solar.”
Citing events such as the BP Deepwater Hori-
zon disaster, rising oil prices, environmental dam-
age wrought by strip mining and mountaintop
removal in Appalachia and the nuclear disaster con-
tinuing in Japan, Brands believes solar is emerging
at a critical point in history.
“Every day I try to stay current with my profession with daily updates on Google alerts about PV
and solar power,” he said.
What makes Brands stand out in the fast-growing solar energy industry is his experience in
marketing, advertising and public relations. With a
bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University
of New Mexico and a master’s in International Relations from Boston University, Brands has written
sales contracts, ads, press releases and even corporate websites. He has hands-on marketing experience
working for an ad agency and, later, owning his own agency in San Diego.
This experience helps him with the proposal-writing side of his job, which includes analysis of the
customers’ home electricity demand, solar system sizing and kilowatt-hour production, a description
of appropriate panels/inverter combination and a calculation of the system cost.
Because of the economic recession, Brands has been obliged to learn about financing for secured
and unsecured real estate properties. The lines of credit many homeowners relied on in the 2000s are
a thing of the past. Knowledge of available financing tools is a must for Brands.
Instead of going for the quick dollar, his approach is to match the customer to the size of the system.
“I’ve got a great deal of experience across a range of sizes and systems,” Brands said. “I’ve sold systems
as small as 1.8 kilowatts and, with a team, I’ve sold systems as large as 2 megawatts.”
A typical workday for Brands involves sales calls, presentations and often travelling. “While most
calls are within a 50-mile radius, I’ve driven as far as 200 miles on sales calls since joining Clary Solar,”
he said. Travel distances can be considerable, as San Diego covers a wide and diverse area.
Clary Solar’s office is in Sorrento Valley, in the northern coastal region of San Diego. However, the
bulk of Brand’s work is conducted from his home office in central San Diego.
text and photos by
MARY BETH MCCABE, DBA
Mary Beth McCabe, DBA, is a full-time professor at the School of Business and Management at National University,
where she is lead faculty for marketing. Her research is concentrated in the field of solar energy marketing, and her
contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org. She speaks at national solar conferences and is active in social media. She and
her husband, Allen Shubat, signed a contract with Clary Solar after the PV presentation from David Brands.