What is your most valuable asset?
For one company, Mountain View Solar (mtvSolar), it’s their employees.
Mountain View Solar, headquartered in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, has become one of the region’s largest solar installation companies and the largest solar PV integrator. Along with West Virginia, they are licensed in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, with installations reaching from Chambersburg, Pennyslvania, to Williamson, West Virginia, on the Kentucky border.
Mike McKechnie, president of mtvSolar, talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about his worst business moment, the one thing he does everyday that contributes to his success and the most valuable resource he has.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned during your time in business?
In 2011, mtvSolar built the largest solar array, 407 kilowatts, in West Virginia at American Public University Systems in Charlestown.
“Coming off of that project, we were ready to conquer the world,” said McKechnie. “Any project was possible. We got an opportunity to build a 1.6 megawatt solar array on the ground for a large California contractor.”
The project was located on a landfill in Salem, Virginia, and it was for a Virginia hospital for Veterans. mtvSolar thought it was a great idea as these landfills are capped and not for use for anything except solar. “It’s renewable energy for vets, and the vets that are there have fought a lot of wars, and it is my belief that a lot of wars are fought over energy,” McKechnie said. After signing the contract, mtv Solar started working for the California company, developing this project in Virginia. “We started working for them, and they were just not nice people.”
After months into the project, with inefficient plans and not having the ability to change the plan and charge, mtvSolar lost a lot of money. “We fought hard to get what we believed was due to us. Ultimately, it was a super large company that beat up on the small company, and it was quite a learning experience.”
What’s one thing you do everyday that you think contributes to your personal success?
In prior articles, many business owners have advised to have a business plan and think long term.
McKechnie would agree, as he advises, “Get up early, go to work, and have a positive outlook to the future.”
“Small businesses have a lot of challenges. There are up times, there are down times and times in between,” McKechnie said. “Keep the morale up by leading.”
Work hard to face the challenges, find the solutions, and get it done.
Value your employees.
“The biggest resource I have, the most expensive resource I have, and the most valuable asset are our employees,” McKechnie said. “It’s the team. The people who make it work.”
Valuing your employees can be as simple as celebrating the company’s successes with them, giving them extra educational opportunities, having team lunches and listening.
Your employees are the first line of evangelists who will promote your company.
According to Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today, 72 percent of firms surveyed reported more online visibility after implementation of a formal employee advocacy program, with 65 percent reporting an increase in brand recognition.
McKechnie was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to his full podcast here.
PWV QUICK BITS | Valuable Asset
- ONE RESOURCE YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “My employees”
RECOMMENDED BOOK: “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton
- PIECE OF ADVICE: “Get up early, go to work, and have a positive outlook to the future.”
- PERSON MCKECHNIE WOULD LIKE TO MEET: McKechnie would like to talk with the WV Board of Education