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Behind the List with Wes Checkeye of Evoke Solar'Supporting local businesses'

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Alternative energy has been a growing trend worldwide.

Throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley, businesses are incorporating these energy sources as a replacement for fossil fuels.

Several forms of alternative energy are available – and whether it be solar, hydroelectric wind or thermal, there are options to find the right source of energy that's environmentally friendly.

One company that's been making an impact on the region is Evoke Solar in Hellertown.

Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Evoke Solar been operating in the Greater Lehigh Valley and what are its primary services?

Wes Checkeye: Evoke Solar has been operating for four years in the Lehigh Valley. I have 13 years of experience designing and building solar photovoltaic systems.

Evoke is in essence an offshoot of a pioneer solar company that operated out of Upper Bucks County for 30 years, The Heat Shed. Evoke Solar offers site analysis, system design, installation and consulting for residential and commercial solar electric systems.

LVB: Alternative energy has become more popular in recent years, particularly solar energy. What energy solutions does Evoke Solar provide? Does it work on a commercial level, residential or both?

Checkeye: Evoke Solar offers one primary thing that we do very well: solar photovoltaic installs. We replace or offset the energy you currently buy from the utility by simply harnessing the sun's light and inverting it to power your home or business.

We provide these services for both residential and commercial sites, but it is worth noting the economic benefits are greater for commercial businesses looking for tax relief and long-term savings.

LVB: What have been some of the biggest hardships and opportunities that Evoke Solar has encountered throughout its years in business?

Checkeye: We have been blessed with steady business and strong, steady growth since opening our doors. Solar costs are consistently decreasing with savings being passed on to the customer, and the industry is experiencing significant growth nationwide.

The biggest obstacle is that we need to speak to an enormous number of prospects to find interested customers.

One of the greatest hardships is an education gap, so we consider teaching people an important part of our job. We are informing homeowners and business owners that solar energy really does work. It truly pays for itself and they do not need to be locked in to the utility's ever-increasing rates.

Going solar is a smart investment and a simple process, not a choice that applies only to overtly environmentally conscious individuals or wealthy homeowners.

LVB: How does Evoke Solar directly stimulate the economy of the Greater Lehigh Valley?

Checkeye: Evoke maintains a priority of working with and supporting local businesses as often as the opportunity presents itself.

Many of our needed supplies for installs come from local sources. For example, we purchase aluminum and steel from Pennsylvania Steel [Co.] in Allentown, our solar distributor is located just north of us in Stroudsburg, and we are often employing local electrical help.

Also, our employees enthusiastically support local, creative restaurants and coffee shops.

We as a company are slowly creating more local jobs, but our ultimate contribution comes in saving local businesses and families the money spent on energy costs, money that will go on to be used elsewhere and foster increased growth in the local economy.

LVB: What does the future look like for Evoke Solar? Does it have plans for growth?

Checkeye: We build brighter futures, and our own looks just as bright.

As mentioned, the solar industry as a whole has experienced significant growth, and this has held true at Evoke. We are on track for a steady 30-40 percent growth in revenue each year, and we are adding to our own infrastructure to exceed that growth.

We've recently added to our sales staff, which will increase our number of installs, and so we will soon see an opportunity to expand our installation crew.

We are also pleased to announce that at the start of 2017, we will move into a new office space and storage facility.

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Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland is a researcher for Lehigh Valley Business and blogs on arts and entertainment in the region.

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