Already a leader in utility and commercial ground-mount solar solutions, RBI Solar recently made a big move to become a leader in the roof mount realm as well. The company had two choices: work internally to develop mounting solutions or acquire a company already in that business. Through a European contact, leaders of Cincinnati-based RBI Solar found out that Cologne, Germany-based Renusol GmbH, a leading residential and commercial roof mount company, might be interested.
It turns out the chemistry between Renusol and RBI Solar was strong, and Renusol’s team and its offerings were exactly the complimentary fit RBI Solar needed to expand its business. The companies struck a deal and in June 2014, the announcement came that RBI Solar would acquire Renusol GmbH and Renusol America from CentroSolar Group AG. The Renusol acquisition also moves RBI Solar into the residential market, a first for the company that Reilly founded in 2010.
“With Renusol, we gain over 15 years of expertise in the area of residential and commercial projects,” stated Richard Reilly, RBI Solar’s president in a June news release about the merger. “This is a decisive step in our company growth and fits perfectly with our products and service portfolio. Renusol has proven, innovative, and cost-effective solutions.”
RBI Solar is a sister company to Rough Brothers Inc., a more than 80-year-old designer, manufacturer and installer of commercial greenhouse, garden centers and conservatories. This tradition of excellence carries over to RBI Solar, known for providing best-in-class racking systems, installation and project management services.
Its on-staff engineers, licensed in all 50 states, allows the company to offer complete design, hi-tech manufacturing and nationwide installation and tech support. The Renusol acquisition marks the second in two years for RBI. In 2013, the company acquired ProtekPark Solar, a carport solar solutions company. Both additions to the RBI Solar family continue the company’s quest to develop and engineer high-quality solar installations nationally and internationally.
“We saw the opportunity to add Renusol with their high-quality solar roof mount systems, complementary products and the Renusol team’s experience as too good to pass up,” Reilly says in a January interview with Solar Builder.
Speaking to the complimentary aspects of both companies and a strengthened presence in Europe, North America, and Reilly says the acquisition opens doors for both RBI and Renusol in places like the Middle East.
“Combined the two companies have industry leading design and engineering capabilities and our joint manufacturing and customer support resources will allow us to continue to grow and provide even greater services for the distributor and installer partners. We can handle a project from initial design and engineering thru on-site installation and long term system maintenance,” Reilly says. “We share warehouse and manufacturing facilities including locations in North Carolina, Ohio and California so we are on both coasts and in the Midwest. This is of critical importance to both RBI and Renusol as we strive to deliver not only the most innovative and cost-effective mounting solutions on the market, but also the best support and cost effective distribution throughout the entire country.”
Nearly six months in, how are things going?
“We are already sharing warehouse space in California and will look at the North Carolina warehouse as the next step,” Reilly said, in a January interview. “We have hired additional sales and customer service representatives to cover both Renusol and RBI Solar. We will continue these joint efforts going forward.”
Surprisingly, bringing Renusol into the RBI fold has been a relatively simple process Reilly says, owing to the two distinct market niches the companies have and the similar company structures. Though he does expect there could be bumps in the road, as with any acquisition, as the companies begin to share more resources.
Looking ahead to 2015, Reilly did not mention further additions to the RBI Solar family of companies but did say that project and product development efforts for the year are already off to a strong start.
“We feel very good about the solar market for 2015 and beyond,” he says. “In terms of the change in the outlook from the acquisition I would say that we have more vision on the residential market and also the European market than we did in the past.”
Mike Kezdi is a contributing editor to Solar Builder.
— Solar Builder magazine