All eyes were on staffing struggles at BizWest’s CEO Roundtable for leaders in the cleantech industry this week. The event, sponsored by Plante Moran, Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti and Bank of Colorado, offered business leaders a chance to share their insights into changes in the clean technology industry.
Steven Berens, CEO of Clear Comfort Water Inc., focused on the impacts a lack of transportation workers can have on the supply chain as a whole.
“In my business, I can’t speak for everyone here, it’s all coming down to transportation,” Berens said.
E Source Cos. LLC’s former CEO Wayne Greenberg spoke on how remote work has made finding talent easier.
“That’s been sort of the lifesaver, being able to hire people where they want to be,” Greenberg said.
Microgrid Labs Inc.’s Namit Singh found that remote work can alleviate struggles with finding workers, but it means recruiting from the same talent pool as the industry giants.
“Now we can work with remote employees, but those remote employees are open to work for anyone,” Singh said.
Also Energy Inc.’s Robert Schaefer is more optimistic about the region’s talent pool in the technology industry.
“Colorado has always been a hotbed,” he said.
Like many sectors, the cleantech industry is facing issues with the supply chain. Jacques Nader, director of Siemens Power Generation’s Wind Turbine R&D Office, spoke about sourcing materials from around the world.
“We are a global company; we source materials [from] all over the world,” Nader said.
The supply chain has gotten only more complex with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and companies are now forced to navigate complex political situations when doing business.
“For example, the plywood we use in some of our blade manufacturing, of course, comes from Russia,” Nader said.
Sourcing aluminum is another challenge in light of current events. Alexandra Holland, CEO of PIARCS PBC, expressed concern about conflict with Russia, the world’s third-largest aluminum producer.
“That’s one of the only ways to clean up phosphorus from wastewater,” Holland said of aluminum.
While the global political situation has made some aspects of manufacturing more complicated, the situation at home has actually improved the outlook for the cleantech industry.
Will Toor, director of the Colorado Energy Office, was optimistic about the Biden administration’s plans involving the cleantech sector.
“They certainly did what they could in the infrastructure act,” Toor said, referencing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021.
Other CEOs were more cautious about the impacts of policy on the industry. Greenberg referenced changes in administration as one reason why industry may not rely on policy alone.
“I’m skeptical about policy; I don’t rely on policy, because policy changes every two years, or every four years,” Greenberg said.
Ned Harvey, co-founder of new startup Digital Gaia, pointed out that laws are slower to pivot than individual businesses operating in the cleantech industry.
“The last thing we want is big capital going after one thing and policy going after something else,” Harvey said.
The current outlook is far from doom and gloom, however. A recent report from Allied Market Research predicts that the green energy market will grow from $880 billion to $2 trillion by 2030. Byron Kominek, CEO of Jack’s Solar Garden LLC, is optimistic about growth in the solar energy space.
“There are lots of people looking at the different means of designing for a solar array,” Kominek said.
While it is important for individual businesses to succeed, there was an air of collaboration at the CEO roundtable. Carl Lawrence, CEO of EnergySense LLC, expressed his support for the cleantech community.
“I’m more interested in what I can provide back to the industry as a whole,” Lawrence said.
Mary Austin, executive director of the Colorado Cleantech Industries Association, was also supportive of collaboration.
“Our network is our strongest asset,” Austin said.
Josh White and Jim Cowgill represented sponsor Plante Moran, Ashley Cawthorn represented sponsor Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP and Aaron Spear represented sponsor Bank of Colorado.
This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.