Robert Sandberg had worked in the banking industry for 10 years when he was laid off during the 2008 financial crisis. Retirement didn’t suit him, and after moving to Portland, he decided to follow his passion and work in solar energy. He started by learning the ins and outs of the industry, from the electrical aspects to installation procedures and business strategies. After a year and a half, he was ready to start a business of his own.
When Sandberg launched LightSource Energy in 2015, he was the only permanent employee. Sandberg worked with temporary installers and a subcontractor electrician. Three years later, he employs a full-time operations manager, a sales manager and three installers.
Sandberg began meeting with a SCORE mentor two months before launching the business. He checks in with SCORE on a semi-monthly basis, and Sandberg calls his late mentor Robert Steinberg “a guiding influence.”
Sandberg advises others thinking about opening a small business: “It’s a crazy ride; prepare to make lots and lots of mistakes. Seek advice from experienced people, collaborate, and be really good to your customers.”
Since successfully launching the business, Sandberg has completed a host of successful projects, earning a positive reputation in the Oregon solar industry and making enough money to hire both full-time and part-time staff.