United Solar Associates growing rapidly in New England

United Solar Associates growing rapidly in New England

Dan McGrath was a master electrician when Massachusetts increased its solar incentives in 2010. He saw an opportunity in an emerging market and made a big leap of faith.

It paid off. His United Solar Associates is growing rapidly and creating exciting new jobs.

McGrath left his electrical work to put solar panels on people’s roofs.

“He started out working from his garage and doing all the work himself,” said Steve Dockray, sales and marketing intern for United Solar Associates. The Andover, Mass. business grew quickly.

“It started with just Dan and his wife and now they have 16 employees,” Dockray said.

That’s pretty rapid growth for a three-year-old business. And it’s thanks, in large part, to the generous solar incentives and fast-paced solar market it Massachusetts.

However, the company’s success isn’t confined to the borders of the state.

“We’ve done projects all over New England,” Dockray said, “every state but Rhode Island.”

United Solar Associates will even complete a solar installation on the sovereign island nation of Barbados next year.

When the business first got started, McGrath focused primarily on residential rooftop solar installations. Residential solar panels are still an important part of the business. But the company has been getting more and more opportunities to install panels on commercial buildings for businesses, a part of the business that promises to keep growing.

“We just finished our biggest installation ever,” Dockray said.

United Solar Associates installed 364 SolarWorld panels on Bob Moran’s Acton Toyota of Littleton in Massachusetts. The 110-kilowatt system is expected to generate 10 to 12 percent of the electricity the car dealership uses.

The installer typically works with SolarWorld for panels.

“We really go out of our way to try as much as possible to use all American-made products and we try to stay local as much as we can, too,” Dockray said.

While the company has been consistently growing over the three years since it started, the growth was particularly explosive in 2013. The little family-owned business started the year proud of its 40 or so installations, but will finish 2013 with triple that many and a growing reputation and reach.