Story of Springers - Celebrating Our 20th Birthday
20 years ago, Springers Solar was born. Here is our story.
20 years ago, a small but unique idea was formed. Can we use clean energy to power off-grid lifestyles? Can battery and solar charge and power vehicles, like caravans and RVs, for people who are on the road? Brian and Joe Springer decided that they would bring a dream to reality, and open a retail store that catered to customers seeking to install solar and batteries to power off-grid camping and vehicles. And thus, Springers Solar was born.
Brian, Joe, and Cheryl Springer opened the doors to the first Springers Solar store in 2002 in Strathpine, QLD. Committed to providing quality and informative services to an emerging clientele, Joe and Brian worked hard to create reliable, unique, and cost-effective solutions for off-gridders. The Strathpine store was the first of its kind in South East Queensland, and our roots in retail have still transferred to today. Joe, now director of Springers Solar alongside his two brothers, Eddie Springer and Michael Springer, are proud of their long-lasting commitment to the solar and battery retail space.
As bigger caravans and rigs began to queue for Springers servicing, it was apparent that they were rapidly outgrowing their space. A workshop opened in Brendale to accommodate, which was quickly followed by a second retail store in Tingalpa. Outgrowing these spaces again, the stores were finally moved to be opened in both Lawnton and Capalaba, complete with an attached Workshop, which still operates today.
The Springers team also expanded. Eddie Springer joined the family business in 2005 with a background in construction, and Michael Springer joined in 2010 with his background in business and pharmacy. With increasing demand in the solar energy industry, an ever-growing, close-knit team was formed, with the Springers’ leading the way.
Springers Solar was initially focussed primarily on small energy setups for caravans, RVs, and other off-grid systems. In the early 2000s, solar was expensive and niche, and solar for homes and properties was practically unheard of. The Springers’ can recall the first notable Government solar rebate (called the “Renewable Energy Diesel Replacement Scheme”) and gained traction in property solar installations as off-grid communities and rural homesteads sought to make the switch from expensive diesel generators to solar energy.
Joe, Eddie, and Michael have experienced a front-row seat to the solar rebates that have come and gone over the past 20 years. They warmly refer to it as the ‘solarcoaster’, where the dynamics constantly change, feed-in tariffs fluctuate, and Governments alternate, all resulting in a constant stream of new challenges and developments throughout years of operation. The retail and workshop portion of Springers Solar has always acted as a stabilising factor in the ‘solarcoaster’ and is reflective of how Springers has been able to continue to grow for the long haul, where others often rely on rebates and inevitably fall behind.
Grid-connected solar was still almost non-existent in 2008 when Eddie and Joe spoke with a fellow solar operator who had just installed their first on-grid system. Joe recalls how they shared diagrams of the system on the back of a napkin and were fascinated by the prospect of solar moving toward grid integration. Both Joe and Eddie regard this as Springers Solar's turning point - they decided then and there that Springers would expand and become an electrical contracting business.
Springers Solar became one of Queensland’s first electrical contracting solar installers - it was so early in the solar industry that Springers had the front-row-seat to the improving levels of compliance over the years, and had influence due to a reliable and honest reputation. Springers are founding signatories to the Approved Solar Retailers program, were members of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, now known as the Clean Energy Council, of which they were also members. They were also Installer Reference Group founding members as installers/advisers and are noted as Master Electricians. Multiple Clean Energy Council awards and Master Electrician awards have been garnered over the years.
In 2019, Brain and Cheryl retired from the family business and Joe, Eddie, and Michael all stepped in to continue Springers Solar as its directors. As of March 2022, Springers Solar proudly employs 60 staff and we are looking to hire another six before the end of the year. There are no plans of slowing down, with 30% growth projected for every year moving forward, and we are eager to continue expanding to accommodate for increased demand in the solar energy market. The brothers note that investing in motivated, honest staff and building long-lasting relationships with the team is key to ensuring growth remains steady and maintained. The industry will continue to expand for decades to come, as our Governments look to create a Net 0 Australia by 2050.
While this is an exciting time and prospect for Springers, Joe, Eddie, and Michael all admit that their favourite install projects remain true to their roots with off-grid energy systems. Joe describes the design and setup of a 100% off-grid system to be the most satisfying. They predict that off-grid systems will become more popular in the suburbs as interest increases in energy independence.
The brothers are also excited as the industry moves further into electric vehicle territory. The benefits of electric vehicles are enormous and as people begin to take control of their energy in their homes, it’s logical that people will begin to create energy independence over their transport too. Michael states that this is still in the relatively early stages - just as home solar had a tipping point of becoming financially viable between 2008-2011, electric vehicles will experience a tipping point too.
Batteries are another interesting growth point. While they’ve been around for a while, lithium is now making its mark and the ability to to be able to store energy produced will form another energy revolution.
Springers have seen many solar companies come and go over the years. It is easy for solar companies to compete, grow, then fail with its volatile dynamics, but we have lasted the decades due to our focus on quality. While this approach may have seen slower growth than others, it has ultimately created long-lasting relationships with our customers and manufacturers. What sets Springers Solar apart from the rest is our strong customer focus and ensuring happy staff. Joe states simply but honestly, “your people are your business”.
Struggles and turbulent times aren’t oblivious to our team - Springers Solar's biggest challenge to date is managing growth sustainably. Maintaining supply for the demand, particularly over periods of hardship (for example, the pandemic), has been sometimes difficult, but we’ve always viewed growth as an organic process and focused on reinvesting profits back into the business to remain a well-supported base for customers and staff. Joe, Eddie, and Michael each value work-life balance and family time, to which they preach and ensure the team also practice.
When questioned with what are the brothers most proud of, each of them has the same answer: they are beyond proud of the 60 strong staff force they’ve built who are as close as family, and knowing that they all genuinely care for each other and have each other's backs. They are also proud of the customer focus they’ve developed, and how they give their customers the best service, advice, and products that can be provided in the industry. The customer's best interest is always at heart at Springers Solar, and we look forward to keeping that promise for many more decades to come.
From everyone at Springers Solar, thank you for 20 years of support!
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