Checking in on altE’s Acquisition of Actual Items: 1 12 months Later


It’s now been a full year since altE took over Real Goods, the California-based supplier of solar and off-grid food – and what a year it was! 2020 has been a very busy year for all of us, and the challenge of bringing two companies 3000 miles apart into a single cohesive organization covering 3000 miles of floor space required careful planning. And while the work isn’t done, the results already speak for themselves.

Why real goods?

Securing a warehouse and a team of seasoned solar sales reps on the West Coast was undoubtedly a strategic addition to our Massachusetts and Puerto Rico locations. However, the answer here is more than just geographic. We have never felt bound to the east coast. Our U.S. customers were generally evenly distributed on both sides of the Mississippi, and we’ve even had offices in New Mexico, Costa Rica, and Columbus, Ohio for the past two decades.

“One of the reasons why we wanted to join forces with the Real Goods team was the shared passion for renewable energies and the support of people all over the world,” explains Sascha Deri, CEO of altE. “But the acquisition of Real Goods has given us a deeply rooted presence further west than ever before. With the Real Goods team, we now have full technical sales, customer service, technical support and warehouse workers on the west coast, and we can see for sure that their efforts will benefit our customers on the west coast more, ”says Sascha. “Not only are our phones open until 5:00 PM Pacific Time to assist people in every time zone, but we’re often able to reduce shipping costs and time for our customers in the western half of the US by using Fulfill orders from our California warehouse. ”

Another reason you chose Real Goods is because of the Real Goods brand. Sascha remembers reading the old Real Goods catalogs and the Solar Living Sourcebook as a teenager, and knows he wasn’t alone. “I am honored that altE will continue to strengthen the legacy of the Real Goods brand and customers around the world,” he says.

Cross-border integration

In planning the acquisition and integration of Real Goods, the altE leadership team recognized the need for strategic investment and careful execution. “We have made significant investments – trained staff, moved real goods from Hopland to Ukiah, and integrated our systems and processes.” says CFO Randy Walther. However, sales and profit targets were achieved.

In addition to these macro-level investments, we also felt it was important to equip the Real Goods team with better equipment and more personal time for the new hires (this was before the Covid-19 pandemic started). After the takeover was completed, the members of the altE team flew from our other locations to California for a few weeks to meet our new employees at Real Goods. A short time later, we took the Real Goods folks to our office in Boxborough, Massachusetts for a few weeks to work.

Real Goods' Garrett McCutcheon with altE's Nate Dooley and Jacob Solon during an energy storage training session for solar professionals at the OutBack Power facility in Arlington, WA
Real Goods’ Garrett McCutcheon with altE’s Nate Dooley and Jacob Solon during an energy storage training session for solar professionals at the OutBack Power facility in Arlington, WA

“We did this not only to make it easier for our new Californian team members to learn our systems and processes, but above all to catalyze the reaction of the people who get to know each other,” explains Sascha. “I think everyone on the team felt like our family just grew with the union of the two teams.”

Shaylene Marino, specialist in sales and customer care for real goods, agrees, citing that her job now includes the feeling of being part of a family. She also notes the better perks, state-of-the-art computers, and adjustable desks that she and her staff have received from Real Goods under altE. “The biggest difference for me is that this went from a job to a career. It was a challenge, but I want to stick with it because I have a company behind me that wants me to learn and improve myself. “

Same roots, new tree

Although Real Goods was known for selling the first retail solar panel in the US as early as 1978, it struggled to expand beyond its strong regional presence in Northern California. Real Goods was a force in the early days of the mainstream renewable energy movement and a respected source of solar power and off-grid living resources. Over the years, Real Goods has created a loyal and dedicated customer base.

We are grateful for these customers’ preference for the Real Goods brand and have recognized that they are retaining their experience with it while working to improve what they can offer them. Shaylene is one of the people who work with real goods lifters most often. She is enthusiastic about the balance that has been achieved with it. “Sascha didn’t want to change our identity as Real Goods and take care of Real Goods customers,” she says.

Yet Real Goods is now storing more solar energy and storage products than ever in its Ukiah, California warehouse – and selling them at lower prices. In addition, by using the shipping logistics platform of altE Real Goods customers, we were able to offer more and cheaper shipping options.

Now that we’ve laid the foundation of Real Goods, we’re better equipped than ever to deliver more solar energy to more locations in the western United States. “It’s incredibly helpful to work with Shaylene and Garrett now, who are aligned with the California renewable energy market and the needs of customers there,” said Nate Dooley, technical sales representative, altE. “It is a great advantage not only to be physically present in California, but also to benefit from the additional knowledge and experience that the West Coast team brings with them. This enables us to serve all of our customers better and more efficiently. “

A bright and sunny future

“As expected, it was a year of transition,” says CFO Randy Walther. “The strategy was to expand altE’s activities and presence on the west coast. With the Real Goods team and Ukiah warehouse, we are now well positioned to expand our customer base and meet the growing demand for photovoltaic and storage products on the west coast. “

What is Randy’s verdict a year after the takeover? “Real Goods was an excellent addition to altE.”

Sunset from Hawaii's dormant Haleakala Volcano

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Sean has been working in the solar industry website since 2010. He is the proud user of an on-grid solar system at his home in solar-friendly Denver, Colorado with his beautiful wife and adorable dogs, and eats approximately 300 bagels annually.

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