Closed Captioning Below Video
CleanStart To-Do with Will Barrett of ClipperCreek
Will shares insights on how EV charging is changing and how ClipperCreek is managing rapid growth in a changing environment. Hear recommendations on how entrepreneurs and innovators can not only cope, but thrive during this unprecedented time.
CleanStart To-Do with Will Barrett of ClipperCreek
Welcome Diana, Ken… As we go live I’m going to make sure all the little things are going.
You know I’ve noticed that we’ve trained people but they don’t have to come on until five minutes past.
It’s like this behavioral thing I’m watching. Oh and Guy’s got problems with his microphone.
I know too, Gary.
Alright well – Good morning to you!
We’ve got the live steam going and the recording going so I’m going to go ahead and just start sharing my screen. And if you’re curious about where you can follow these I will put a link to the slides. Here you go, so there’s a link to the slides right there if you want to follow along.
And with that we’re going to say “hi” to the world out there that’s watching, and we’re going to go! Welcome to CleanStart’s To-Do’s, today we have Will Barrett, Director of Sales for ClipperCreek, and I’m really excited because ClipperCreek hasn’t missed a beat it seems like in the past several years even with this whole pandemic kind of thrown at everyone.
So remember, be polite, remain on mute if you’re not talking, I will be very judicial about people that aren’t on mute and keeping them in the room so just remember be respectful.
Alright we want to highlight a lot of the things that are going on out there and we want to say that we support change and support growth on all communities. So we’ll get into these slides again, I saw more people entering so I’m going to copy the link to the slides again.
Go and check out some of these opportunities that are out there to connect and grow. I want to thank our sponsors: Weintraub Tobin, BlueTechValley, Sac State, SMUD, and MOSSADAMS. Without them we wouldn’t be able to put on these programs and we are very grateful for their support.
And now I want to call everyone to go and register for the epic virtual forum that’s coming up on September 2nd and 3rd. This one’s about carbon-neutral buildings, they have several lightning talks that will be happening; they’re putting in a lot of effort to make this a very personal kind-of small networking group but on a massive kind-of scale. So one of the things we all know has been missing is network. And you would go to conferences because it was a great way to network. It’s really hard to network at virtual conferences; they’re trying to solve that and talk about carbon-neutral buildings. So go in there and check that out. Oh yeah, an EPIC program invests more than $130 million annually in California and that funding is probably going to be renewed within the next 10 years.
If you wanted to go and check out our past To-Do with New Energy Nexus they talked a little bit about that. So go to our YouTube channel and learn more about that.
Alright, some other quick announcements! Upcoming To-Dos: Mariah Lichtenstern on September 10th – DiverseCity Ventures Tech Funding Equity; that will be a great one where you can learn about all the different ways that she’s promoting more people to be able to invest in technology. We also have Daniel Clark doing a 1 Million Cups presentation next week on the 18th. You guys can go in there and check out these calendars and we’ll also have upcoming To-Dos from Humboldt State, Nexus, and DAE. So, look forward to seeing you guys at those!
Other announcements: MOSSADAMS – Construction during the COVID-19, go in there and sign up for it. Also, we talked a little bit about this a second ago but the EPIC (Electric Program Investment Charge) – they’re going to be having some really interesting solicitations coming around zero carbon footprint buildings, so go and look at those, sign up for those list-serves. If you support what we’re going and you’re getting a lot of information from it I want to encourage you guys to you know, buy us a cup of coffee to support the To-Dos, get your name on this little plaque here, help us grow. It takes a little bit of effort to try and put on all of these and we know that people appreciate them so show us you appreciate them by supporting us and buying us a cup of coffee.
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And without further adieu I’d like to welcome Will Barrett, Director of Sales – ClipperCreek. So Will, welcome, and just tell me when you want me to click to the next slide.
Okay yeah thanks Thomas. Thanks for having this event, or these events I should say. It seems really great for all of us to kind of get together and talk about how we’re tackling things.
I’m Will Barrett, I’m with ClipperCreek, we manufacture EVSEs; that’s Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, or charging stations for plug-in vehicles, it’s an electrical appliance that you utilize power to get to an electric vehicle so it can refill its battery. We’re located in Auburn, California, and we do the final assembly for all our product here so we have a production line, we have engineering, customer service, product support, marketing, um, we have accounting all in-house operating out of that facility in Auburn. And you can go ahead and switch to the next slide.
So for this To-Do list I kind of went through what we did over the last five months or so at this point. You know for us, January and February were kind of moving right along. Our industry is in a growth curve right now which is really exciting and things were moving pretty rapidly and then about a week or so into March uh the rule, or first the recommendation and then the rules within the state and the county started to evolve.
And so the first thing we had to do was try to understand and learn about, you know, as an employer we have just under 50 people that would come into our facility every day, the occasional walk-in customer, and then a variety of different vendors. So we had to learn, understand what the rules were, and figure out where we fit in to that.
Since ClipperCreek essentially manufactures fueling equipment, or vehicle refueling equipment, we fell into the “essential” company, so we were able to stay open but we did need to implement some pretty stringent safety guidelines at the facility. Which was kind of our main focus was initially and especially now ongoing is employee safety.
So we had to understand the guidelines, we immediately sent a large portion of our workforce home and we shifted to basically sustaining operations at the facility so we were running on a skeleton crew which would include some -sorry, something popped up on my computer here- uh would include some production staff but very light, less than 50%, some customer service staff, again very light. So we basically supported customers that were calling in and customers that needed products urgently because they had to keep fleet vehicles going and things like this.
Over that time, or over time, we shifted, made a number of changes to the facility including plexiglass patricians on the production line, requirements for PPE, people wearing masks, uh, we had to figure out how to source those things as things started to open up. So it was a big learning curve, um so lots of learning, a big focus on employee safety, and a lot of changes at the facility on how we all do our day-to-day work, how we prioritize.
Further down as things started opening up, you know the focus for my department, I’m in the Sales side of things so I oversee all our sales and new business development activities as well work with our other Directors at the facility to implement these safety policies and things like that. But as time went on the focus became, you know, you’ve got to stay connected with our customers and get back in touch with customers, try to understand where projects that we were working on months ago are today.
Certainly it was a big shift that impacted the whole country. So a lot of things that were in the pipeline, kind of planned to happen in March, April, May, were being sort of rescheduled or pushed out, things like that. It became very important to stay connected with customers and monitor the markets as they evolve. In addition to the health crisis we also found ourselves a few months later with definitely a different economic landscape than we had just in February. So kind of understanding and again learning about what impact that had on projects that we’re working on, near-term opportunities, long-term opportunities and the like.
Again we’re really from my side fortunate to be in this industry I think in general, you know, green energy and green technology is an industry that’s done well through this. Certainly in the plug-in vehicle space the future landscape is all very positive and we think this is going to be a speed bump but we’re just focusing on a lot of phone meetings, web meetings, um I have “experiment” on here [the slide visual] because we’ve tried a couple of things over the last few months that we’ve never done before as it relates to customer outreach and staying connected.
We tried a virtual trade show which was, I think Thomas mentioned it at the beginning of the call, definitely not the same. As far as trade shows networking is one of the main reasons to go to those and it’s – it’s different indeed but you know, we’ll see how that evolves. I think the main thing that we’ve tried to do or that I’ve tried to do is stay connected, take the time to focus on who you’re talking to on a WebX or on a phone meeting, don’t get distracted with other things which is more challenging at home than at the office, surprisingly!
We’re just continuing to monitor the market, one of the other challenges since we’re a manufacturer is supply chain. We’ve got it fortunately, they’ve been super pro-active so we haven’t experienced any major delays but we source all of our components as locally as possible which helps us. But at the same time supply chain is – in the best of circumstances it’s a challenging thing to manage. So that’s been a big focus of the company and big focus of our team. Making sure that we have parts, and now that things are at least for us starting to kind of, you know, things are certainly ramping back up as far as the activity that we see.
So staffing is another thing, we’re actually hiring right now so that’s exciting. We didn’t have to lay anyone off during the last few months, so even with some restrictions in equipment that was going out for a short time we’ve been able to maintain staffing and continue to kind of build up the team because again, in this industry, anything in the green space right now seems to be doing relatively well.
And yeah I mean that’s, you know, what’s on the future To-Do list is we’re going to continue to make products and do what it takes. I’m happy to answer any questions or talk about anything.
I have a question. So are you seeing – because we’ve had other people come on that sell more capital equipment similar to you guys – and they said they’re anticipating that people will now take the time to do these kind of improvements because things are slower, are you seeing anything like that when it comes to your guy’s orders?
We are! Yeah we’re definitely seeing that, and it’s certainly not universal. We’ve had some projects that people are taking the opportunity, we’ve seen it at universities as an example, workplace charging, where they all of the sudden have less people in the parking lot but they’re expecting them to come back. So we see that happening.
At the same time, we work with a wide variety of customers. So we sell products to an individual home owner for installation at their home, we sell to utilities, major fleets, property management companies, cities, municipalities, everything like that. So we’ve seen more in the private sector taking advantage of sort of a lul or not having as many people at a facility, and that accelerating some projects. But then at the same time we’ve seen projects from the cities and local governments, in some cases utilities, kind of pull back as they’ve had to focus on everything else that’s going on.
I have a question. So with a lot of things being shut down for COVID, there’s a lot less opportunities for people to, I don’t know, like charge their phone, plug in their computer, stuff like that, things you would do at a Starbucks or coffee shop. Have you considered any kind of access for other things besides cars for that charging station?
Well we do have – and it’s sort of um, we have some accessories like actually in the picture in the slide in the upper right-hand corner, I don’t know if you can see my mouse on the screen but if you look at this pedestal, the black pedestal here on the right-hand side about half-way down at about the wheel well of that tire you’ll see a grey box with a clear cover. That’s a 120 Volt outlet.
Oh that’s what I thought it looked like, so – is that available for anyone to walk up and use or is that for the car owner, do you plug a credit card into that to get the charge, or is is just like a free thing?
Yeah so it’s up to the owner of the equipment or the site host on how they want to implement it –
In this photo here it’s an open access install.
So the station’s power through the EVSE or through that outlet are just available, and it’s offered as an amenity at that location. And so people utilize that as an incentive to draw in business. So put a charging station out at a shopping center and especially with Level 2 charging people are going to park there probably for a couple of hours and they’re going to get bored sitting in their care and they’re going to go in and they’ll buy something. And so it’s sort of an amenity to customers, gets people to stay a little bit longer but in this case they’ve got the 120 Volt – we call it a “convenience outlet.” It’s GFCI protected, an outdoor weather cover, it can be used for a Level 1 portable EVSE if someone came up and all of the connectors on the station were occupied they could use the one from their trunk. Or anyone could just plug in a laptop or cellphone or anything that they needed to get power to.
We have versions of the product that could have access control and things like that but generally those outlets aren’t – you know the convenience outlet on the side isn’t something that’s connected back to the credit card reader. You would have the EVSEs that are connected to an access control and payment system but in most cases if they’re offering that outlet it’s just available. Some locations will put a lock on it, like in multi-family applications and thing like that and everyone that has access to the equipment either has the combination or a key to that lock. But in most cases those 120 V outlets are just left unprotected.
I’ve seen a lot of talk around charging and where it’s going: whether you’re doing the 240 [Volts] or people are talking about Fast Charging and I’ve noticed that ClipperCreek has stayed mostly focused on producing the Level 2 chargers. I know you have them open so people can put payment systems on them but I think you guys have had a lot of success focusing on one thing, but are you guys at all thinking about expanding into faster level charging or into other, I guess, Internet-of-Things software for it?
So as far as Fast Charging we’re focused on the AC side of things so, we have systems today that are 3-Phase AC, it’s utilized not something that you’d see just driving around, it’s usually a behind-the-fence medium duty fleets or off-road airport ground equipment, mining equipment and things like that. So we go to pretty high power levels when you bring in the 3-Phase you get a 70% bump using the same voltage and current in the total power output. So we get to pretty high, like over 30 kilowatt power levels with 3-Phase AC products today but again they’re sort of specialty applications.
We’re not going into the DC space. There still isn’t a single standard, we really like it when there’s a single standard or single connector and communication protocol that we can utilize. The DC marketspace is pretty crowded and for us to go into that, we’re kind of, you know, we’ve done several analysis on it and we think we’re served with our mission to help accelerate the electric vehicle industry and have a sustainable company, we’re better served in investing our resources into AC charging, Level 2.
We do have a variety of different control interfaces to tie our products into other intelligent control systems. It’s an Internet-of-Things type of approach. But we’re generally utilizing more traditional building controls and machine-to-machine protocols, and that is something that’s evolving.
We work with several different – we call them technology partners – that bring things like network connectivity, user phone apps, web interfaces, dashboards, all different types of tools for managing charging stations that are deployed by an entity.
We actually just launched earlier this year, it’s a product that’s manufactured by ClipperCreek but it’s a white-label branded for a company called ZEF Energy, it’s a ZEF Net enabled ClipperCreek so it’s an integrated, networked, charging station. It’s got cellular network connectivity and then you’ve got a user interface and cloud application that allows for – it’s sort of a-la-carte style but you can do billing, you can do load management, you can participate in utility demand response programs on a commercial scale. So yeah we’re definitely working on sort of an Internet-of-Things type of approach for our products when it comes to adding functionalities to it.
So you guys are still growing, right?
We are! Yeah we’ll probably cross over 50 employees at the facility in Auburn within the next month or so.
Yeah, so I wanted to highlight to anyone who’s an entrepreneur out there because I know we’ve had this conversation with a lot of entrepreneurs is – the benefit of doing one thing well versus trying to do every single little thing. I know you’ve mentioned some of your competition have gone into the DC space or are trying to do more things and ClipperCreek has had sustainable growth – significant growth – doing basically one thing and then partnering on the rest.
Like you mentioned – white labels, white labeling products, finding OEMs that want to put it in their vehicle before – and that’s all just off of doing one thing really well and better. I just kind of want to throw that out there because that’s something we hear a lot where someone tries to make a product that fixes everything.
There is an example of that in our industry: there is a company that does basically everything and they just raised a bunch of money and their cost of doing everything is a VC investment over $660 million.
Oh my gosh!
We uh, we didn’t take that path.
Yeah that sounds like a – like a crash and burn waiting to happen.
You want to tell us who that is, Will?
Ah, I don’t uh –
They get that kind of money you can Google it.
They did waste $127 million and they’re a charging station company.
Where are they based, Will?
In the Bay Area.
Okay are they based in San Francisco?
ChargePoint, it’s ChargePoint! –
Hang on everybody. Does the company – ?
Yeah, it’s ChargePoint.
Is it ChargePoint? Okay, okay –
It’s ChargePoint –
I was wondering if it started with a “V” or not.
In this space basically for the leading ones is I think in my opinion there’s ChargePoint and there’s ClipperCreek that is doing the Level 2 charging – the AC charging – and ClipperCreek is going into the DC space and has gone into the payment space and is going with that kind of, you know, you want to be the Amazon model of everything. And also in the DC space one thing is that you also have EVgo and Electrify America – just some background for people there – both which are making heavy investments and have received funding from OEMs.
Electrify America – of course that’s the Volkswagen, and EVgo has had I believe Nissan, and I want to say BMW but that might be wrong. So no one quote me on it – that has invested in expanding the networks in a similar way that Tesla has that as Will mentioned, how many, I think there’s three fast-charging ways? You have Tesla, you have CHAdeMO and you have the SAE? So when you see these fast charging stations that have a 2 on them they actually don’t have all the charging connections on them.
Hm. I have a quick question, for Will.
Is this a good time?
Go for it Eva. Eva from Push Start (?)
Um, oh I’m sorry, yeah, I should turn on my video for a second. I was in the car on my way here… let’s see, let’s see if I’m actually on. Anyway, you’ll see me if I am. So, I have a question: when you say you make all the stuff that helps the cars charge and all the charging station, do you white-label your product as well for others?
We do for some customers, yes. And also there are some customers that integrate our products into like larger systems –
So you may see the connection sometimes and it would be our product inside.
Okay. That’s good. So do you work with a company called Volta?
Okay, okay. Yeah I’ve been waiting for them to pull out and get into the electrical lane but I don’t know if they’re – I haven’t followed them that closely in the last couple of years but it just came to mind when I was listening to you because manufacturing is hard. You know, it’s hard and I was just thinking about what they could be outsourcing. But, anyway. Thank you for answering my question Will.
We have one from Dan Eastmond. How did you get your foot in the door for your product, where did you start?
Our company actually the history for our company goes back to the ‘90s. The founder of the company, his name is Jason France, he had a company in the ‘90s actually he designed and sold his first EVSE in 1994. And it goes back a few years before that where automakers started doing electric vehicle pilot programs and it was basically, you know, kind of plug a cord into a wall and as the programs initially were sort of automakers were touring the vehicles around to utilities to try to create interest in the technology. And one of the first things that came up was that this doesn’t really seem like a safe way to get power into the vehicle for an everyday user.
So Society of Automotive Engineers, the National Electric Code – or the fire prevention code folks – started coming together and committees were created, they started creating some standards, and as a result we created equipment that met those standards. Well, I say we but it was the owner of the company. So he created equipment that met the standards, actually had a successful company that made very similar products in the late 90’s early 2000 timeframe and the vehicles were taken away for a bunch of silly reasons and so the market kind of fell out, it was in the early 2000s 2004 timeframe.
So there was a lul and then Tesla announced that they were going to make a plug-in vehicle and that’s when Jason incorporated ClipperCreek. We were able to win business early on with Tesla to be their charging station supplier because we essentially had a whole practice round of how to successfully make and build and sell this type of equipment and we’ve just been growing with the industry ever since.
We won business with Tesla and BMW and that’s what started our production line and we’ve just been growing and evolving, making new products, we try to listen to what customers want and build those features into our reliable product.
Okay, do we have any other questions for Will?
Yeah, go for it Stephanie.
Hi Will, and full disclosure I used to work for ChargePoint, so, but I’m not worried about anyone bashing them here it’s been a while. I wanted to ask for – I’m looking into potentially opening a small retail space it’s going to be eco-friendly products, meant to help people reduce single-use plastics but then I also want to have especially for the holidays seasonal to-do things where I have a small business – at least a small display of other environmentally friendly options and solutions for people. Do you guys ever do where you would allow a retailer to sell your station in their shop?
We do, yeah we have reseller pricing and agreements and everything like that. We sell our products to anybody that wants to them, and then we do have programs for resellers.
Okay. And then my only other question is – I do a lot of travel and talk to a lot of hotels, and things of that nature or other kinds of businesses that I know would benefit very much – they don’t need a networked charger, one like yours would be terrific. And whenever I see your stations at a hotel I’m staying at it’s very exciting.
If we wanted to suggest to a hotel, especially one that’s going under renovation I know that’s a better time for them to put in a station because they’re usually tearing up the parking lot or whatnot. If we were to recommend you guys do you have a specific place you’d want us to direct them? Do you guys have a generic sales number, email you want, do you want us to do like- is there anything I can do to pre-qualify someone for you guys before sending them over?
Yeah we actually have and 800 number and firstname.lastname@example.org is kind of the generic email. I can’t believe I didn’t put my contact information in this slide but-
You can put it in the chat.
Yeah we can go ahead and put my contact details in the- or I’ll put them in the chat here and you can have my information and then just feel free to reach out and we can- um, email@example.com is the easiest one but I’ll get you the details in there.
Okay, thank you.
Yeah thank you!
Alright! Well thank you very much Will for coming on here and I want to tell everyone go and check out clippercreek.com? Yes, clippercreek.com to learn more about their charging, things that they offer there. ClipperCreek, like you’ve said, they manufacture right up there in Auburn, they source a lot of their products from here and it sounds like that helped them a lot during this COVID issue because they didn’t have to worry about larger supply chains. So I think it’s a great story of success in our region. And like Will said it’s been a long ride for them and they’ve gotten a lot of experience and now they’re seeing the success of it. So if you get on there and click on things they do go to locations.
So thank you for attending. I want to remind everyone to go and register for that big virtual forum that’s coming up. Also, Moss Adams guidance for energy companies that are doing installs and make sure to check out Daniel Clark next week at 1 Million Cups. I’m going to put a link to these slides again so you can follow all of them.
Daniel we’ll look forward to giving you a hard time next week.
And additional thanks to our sponsors EY and Hacker Lab, and that is our event today. Thank you everyone for coming!
I’ll be ready Gary.
Great job Will! Thanks for doing that and it’s wonderful information.
Thanks for having me!