American Solar Direct Inc. (Private)

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August 27, 2012 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


American Solar Direct Inc. – the One-Stop Solar Solution for Homeowners

Ravi Thuraisingham
President and CFO

An energy industry veteran and innovator, Ravi Thuraisingham is the President, Chief Financial officer and co-founder of American Solar Direct Inc. (ASD), a solar service provider focused on the residential segment. Ravi manages all aspects of the company’s operations from inception and is now focused on his CFO role to expand the business to the next level. He has a wealth of energy industry knowledge, beginning with his degree in Nuclear Engineering. He later applied his business acumen to launching large-scale energy businesses; he launched retail energy businesses collectively worth over a hundred million dollars, and created a wholesale trading operation for a mid-sized utility. With nearly 20 years of varied energy industry experience, Ravi now applies his unique perspective to the future of the energy industry: solar power.

Company Profile:

American Solar Direct Inc. was founded with a single vision—to bring affordable, reliable and clean energy solutions to homeowners. We are committed to being the one-stop solar residential solution—where you can feel confident that all of your requirements will be affordably and reliably met, from start to finish.


American Solar Direct Inc.
2400 Broadway, Suite 240
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone:  855.765.2755


Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – August 27, 2012

CEOCFO: Mr. Thuraisingham, what is the focus of American Solar Direct?

Mr. Thuraisingham: Our focus is in the residential solar business. We provide end to end solutions for homeowners from initial introduction in explaining the benefit of going solar to actually installing it with our own resources, our own staff, completing the installation, financing the system for twenty years, and providing continued O and M support throughout the life of the system.

CEOCFO: What do people misunderstand most about solar, and what is the biggest challenge when talking to potential customers?

Mr. Thuraisingham: The biggest challenge is there is a great deal of misunderstanding and confusion. People often overestimate the difficulty of going solar. However, we go to the homeowner’s house, sit down with the homeowner, and explain what solar is, what it can do for them in terms of cost savings and benefits, as well as the process of putting it together. More importantly, there is basically no upfront cost to the homeowner because we provide the financing and twenty-year lease program. It is just the education process. Often times once the customers understand what it means to go solar, then they are usually very enthusiastic about choosing American Solar Direct.

CEOCFO: What is your geographic range and typical demographics?

Mr. Thuraisingham: Our geographical range is focused in California which is the best market in the United States and North America for that matter and likely in the world. We have started in the Southern California region and we have expanded into northern California and into San Diego. Our demographic are suburbia standard homes, with homeowners who can benefit from going solar and saving some money. They are typical middle income, two or three garage suburbia homes, or our sweet spot where homeowners both appreciate the value of solar and appreciate what it can do for the environment and local jobs and appreciate definitely the cost savings that comes with going solar with us.

CEOCFO: Have people in the current economy been more likely or less likely to take advantage of American Solar Direct?

Mr. Thuraisingham: Because of our direct approach in educating the customer, we spend a great deal of time -- anywhere from forty-five minutes to two and a half hours, and sometimes four hours depending on the sales consultant the customer’s questions and the comfort that they need to get to. We are finding that part of the reason they are willing to spend that much time, often at dinnertime or even a Friday/Saturday night family time, is because they are very interested. Part of the reason they are very interested is the potential, and almost every customer saves in the long run. Most of them save in the upfront years, so this is driving the interest. It is a belief that is driven by the fact that every homeowner is going through some economic tough times. Every dollar that is saved helps them put that money toward something else that they can help the family with, so the economic conditions is really helping with the American Solar Direct approach of hand-holding, and discussing the systems and the benefit of solar with the customers.

CEOCFO: Do you find that most solar companies do not take the time and effort that American Solar provides?

Mr. Thuraisingham: We believe that some companies attempt to do that, but it is not their sole focus. It is our focus; our approach to reaching out to the customers who oftentimes have not heard of solar and have not really thought through what it means for them. I think that approach is unique, and the reason we are good at it is that we are experienced at building energy companies with that kind of background of the direct building approach of getting the customers. Other companies use a combination of radio ads, internet, leads, and things like that. They spend less time courting their customers than we typically would.

CEOCFO: Is it difficult to find salespeople that understand the education concept rather than the quick sell, and how do you evaluate that characteristic in sales consultant?

Mr. Thuraisingham: We often find that you can never really tell who is going to be a good direct sales person and that is where our approach comes in quite valuable. We bring potential consultants through our training program, we put them through a five-day training program where they are trained by other consultants and oftentimes by those consultants themselves were in those training programs maybe a year or two years ago. They teach them through the process of direct sales. What they end up being is someone with a good relationship personality and capability to articulate and explain the product to a homeowner. We have found that we have had successful sales consultants who are professionals in their prior career to other sales consultants who sold a great deal of products and a mixed range of background personalities and demeanors that result in a top productive sales consultant. In the current environment given the economic situation in most part of the country especially in some parts of California, we do not have a shortage of finding great talent who are willing to try this and oftentimes to their own surprise find that they did not know that I could do this. Our lead sales consultant, who has been selling for twenty years, has come from one of these training programs when he did not know he could be a direct sales consultant. He then built a long-term career around it. You can never tell, but we can always tell that ten to forty percent of the trainees in the class are likely to go on and be direct sales consultants.

CEOCFO: There have been some changes both in the California Regulatory Agency and the tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels, how do those work for your advantage?

Mr. Thuraisingham: Net metering is the mechanism by which the homeowners can sell the excess energy back into the utility and the grid, thereby getting the benefit of solar when they do not need the power. What the California Public Utility Commission decision did was basically allow that type of homeowner to double. As this run-rate, residential solar adaptation that is in the works in California gives us plenty of room until 2015 or 2016 to continue to add homeowners to the grid who have solar in their roofs. In terms of the Chinese panels, unlike some of our competitors, we are technology neutral, and we bring the best solution that is out there to the homeowners. We are not in any way affiliated with one panel manufacturer or another. We are not exposed to the Chinese manufacturing tariff issues. Our panels are manufactured elsewhere, and we go to the vendors and the panel manufacturers who do not have such constraints due to some regulatory actions. We can quickly switch to another panel manufacturer if that were to be impacted.

CEOCFO: Technology seems to change quite often in the solar industry. How do you stay on top of trends and new ideas and how do you know what is going to work?

Mr. Thuraisingham: It is probably one of the most technologically invested and researched area of late and it is going to give a boom to many new products around distributed generation in general, solar specifically. Because we have to do a twenty-year financing, we have to go with a technology and system that have been stable and is going to be around for twenty years or more. Oftentimes, these systems last for thirty years, so we stick with traditional photovoltaic and invertors. Those are the main components of the system that have been proven over the last several decades and the only improvement in those technologies are efficiency and cost savings. We will only deploy new technology once it is proven in the marketplace and becomes a sustainable long-term reliable product. There is a great deal of research around building integrated products. We are keeping an eye on that through meeting with industry participants. We have other advisors who sit on the boards of other companies or sit with other investment entities out there, so we learned ahead of time what is in the works, but we will not deploy any of those until it is a proven technology, which we think many such technologies will come in the future. Right now, the hands-down stable leader for residential solar is the photovoltaic technology, the panel technology that is out there.

CEOCFO: How is business these days?

Mr. Thuraisingham: Business is great. The growth we have experienced is tremendous over the last three years since we started. We are a relatively young company, but not so young of a company in the solar space. We reached our recent milestone of installing four megawatts of generation power on the rooftops, and we continue to make headways in the California market. We plan on being here for the long haul.

CEOCFO: What is ahead, and what is the plan for the next couple of years?

Mr. Thuraisingham: Over the next couple of years, we want to really perfect our market here in California, and get the best and the leading player to go to companies for solar in California, continuing to grow here and bring our solutions to every home that we can get our hands on. Then we are looking at other states as they become similarly viable in terms of value to the homeowners from going solar, and we will look to expand across North America. We are looking at a number of other states including the Province of Ontario in Canada, who have a feed-in tariff, so we will fully expand our goal to make sure that the market we serve, we serve efficiently before we expand into other markets.

CEOCFO: Why should investors, potential partners and distributors pay attention to American Solar Direct today?

Mr. Thuraisingham: I believe that we will continue to expand the business and we will continue to look for strategic investment partners. We are backed by two major investors including Washington Gas, which is the utility based out of Washington, DC. As we grow, we are actively looking to bring on other strategic partners to help us get to our full potential. We would be open to talking to any strategic partners, both from investment, or any of the value-add from the perspective of us reaching more customers than we can do without such a partnership and interactions with others.

CEOCFO: What should people remember most about American Solar Direct?

Mr. Thuraisingham: American Solar Direct is a full-service company that makes solar easy for customers to reduce their electric bills, which is important in the current environment of rising electricity rates. American Solar Direct is the customer’s partner for life, for the life of the solar system. We provide an end-to-end solution including the maintenance, from the day the customer meets us, to the day the system comes off. We will be the company that they will interact with. That will provides security and comfort for the homeowners. American Solar Direct comes directly to the homeowners, the customers, to help educate and inform as to the individual benefits of going solar and that is our direct approach. We believe it is a competitive advantage especially in this early stage of this system, and technology in this industry. Lastly, American Solar Direct solar leasing will help produce the economic dependence on major utilities and thereby provide clean and reliable long-term energy solutions to the homeowners that are cost effective. We provide financing for that so that homeowners will not have a burden of outright cost.


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“It is just the education process. Often times once the customers understand what it means to go solar, then they are usually very enthusiastic about choosing American Solar Direct.” - Ravi Thuraisingham does not purchase or make
recommendation on stocks based on the interviews published.