Sigora Solar opened its new headquarters in Charlottesville on Wednesday and announced plans to expand its Waynesboro operation where it had previously been based - a $3.5 million capital investment estimated to create 50 new jobs.
Sigora officials made the announcement at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Harris Street office. Sigora also announced that it will partner with the University of Virginia Athletic Department to become the department’s sole source of solar power.
Logan Landry, Sigora’s chief executive officer, said the new headquarters will house executive offices, the sales force, accounting, human resources and finance staff.
He said Sigora expects to increase its 15 headquarters office employees to almost 30 in the next few months in the sales and accounting/finance departments. In addition to full-time employees, the company will work with U.Va. to offer students paid internships.
Landry also announced that Sigora Solar will move into a new 15,000-square-foot facility in Waynesboro to serve as the company’s operations headquarters and distribution center.
All told, the company expects to hire 30 new employees in Charlottesville and 20 in Waynesboro, Landry said.
“We’ve always been a part of the Charlottesville community, and today we officially, and proudly, join the local business community by opening this headquarters,” Landry told dozens of city and Albemarle County officials and employees at the ribbon-cutting.
City Councilor Kathy Galvin told those gathered that Sigora reflects the type of business that Charlottesville hopes to attract because it is sustainable, equitable and “beautiful.” She said city government can help draw those types of businesses by writing proper ordinances and guidelines.
“It begins with zoning and regulations, and that sounds as dry as toast, but it’s true,” Galvin said. “We’re happy to have your new office on Harris Street because Harris Street was an old industrial neighborhood, and you are bringing back employment to this area.”
Galvin said the Harris Street location’s proximity to the traditionally African-American community in the Rose Hill neighborhood is a benefit to both the company and the community.
“It is great to see employment coming back to the area,” she said. “We would love to see more local employees building and installing the products you make.”
“I’m thrilled by Sigora Solar’s decision to open a major office in Charlottesville,” Mayor Mike Signer said in a prepared statement. “Their combination of innovation, sustainability and job creation is a ‘triple threat’ that will help boost the creative economy we’re building through measures like our recent renewal and expansion of our technology tax credit.”
Sigora was founded in 2011 by Andy Bogdan Bindea with $4,000 and a staff of three working out of the back of a Honda Civic. Three years later, the staff had grown to 36 people.
Revenue increased from $237,000 in 2011 to $3.2 million in 2014, according to Inc. magazine.
In 2015, Sigora’s revenue rose to about $5 million, the magazine estimated. No estimates are available for 2016.
Sigora estimates that its crews have installed solar power in 450 homes and 30 businesses for a total of more than 11,000 solar panels generating more than 4,000 kilowatts of electricity.
Last year, the company helped to install a 1-megawatt rooftop solar array in collaboration with Dominion Virginia Power, creating one of the largest rooftop arrays in Virginia. The array could power an estimated 250 homes.
Timothy Hulbert, president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, said Sigora’s success shows that solar power has been accepted by the community.
“We are no longer in the business of convincing people that solar makes sense,” he told the gathering. “We are now in the business of building the solar-related businesses that make sense.”
Landry said the company’s growth and performance show that a company can be profitable while saving customers money and having a positive impact on the environment.
“Utility company costs never decrease but continually rise due to the costs of infrastructure and transmission charges,” Landry said. “Solar gives us free-market choice in electricity and power and provides not only clean power but a chance for customers to reduce their utility bills.”
Landry also announced that Sigora Solar and the U.Va. Athletics Department have signed a three-year agreement naming Sigora the exclusive solar company for Virginia athletics. The partnership gives Sigora access to thousands of U.Va. sports fans while giving the Athletics Department access to the latest energy technology.