New Address: Two Embarcadero Center, 8th floor, San Francisco, CA 94111     

Michael Barriere, BarrierEnergy Associates

Thanks to Women’s Economic Ventures for this story!

michaelbarrierebarrierenergyassociatesLocations: Santa Maria & Santa Barbara
Established: 2011
Business Description: Energy efficiency and alternative energy consultancy specializing in State of California Title 24 Energy Code verification and certification for Federal, State and Local new and existing residential construction and programs.

What prompted you to start BarrierEnergy Associates?
My father was an architect, and, since college I had studied and worked with rehabilitating residential real estate, building and community. Having never lost interest in the challenges of housing, and then also energy, I had the opportunity to become a real estate agent and developer years later. When the economy turned down around 2008, I discovered the emerging “green economy” afforded me the chance to pursue both housing and energy. Within that emerging economic segment, I have created a niche combining several skills and abilities that are in high demand, marketable and pay a better than average wage.

What aspect of your business are you most passionate about?
As I am, California is committed to the principle of “Zero-Net Energy”. That is, by a combination of energy efficiency measures and alternative energy technologies our homes, like our workplaces, businesses, and other aspects of our economy and life, produce as much energy as they use. I am making a difference today by supporting State and Federal efforts to reduce energy waste, energy costs and improve the quality of our housing stock.

What role did WEV play in the opening of your business?
About 4 years ago, after I had completed my Rater and Analyst training, I briefly considered working for a contractor but decided instead to pursue starting my own consultancy. A dear friend, Camille Dominguez at EDD in Santa Maria recommended I pursue WEV’s SET program. Wow! I learned so much I had never even considered important! Having received positive feedback from my instructor and classmates, I submitted my resulting business plan for consideration of a business startup loan. A little more than 2 1/2 years ago I was awarded a WEV loan which I used to purchase my own test equipment and start my business. Now having enjoyed solid, continuous growth, WEV has once again assisted me, through a business expansion loan which I will use to add 1 1/2 employees, a second vehicle, and additional equipment. WEV has really made all this possible.

What specific goals have you set and achieved as a business owner? What goals will you conquer next?
In addition to pursuing a meaningful career in a field I truly enjoy and believe in, my first goal was to create a sufficient income stream to be entirely self-supporting by my own contributions. My business is now well established in the new construction and special energy programs segments of the housing market. The next challenge is to grow and support the new 2013 Title 24 Energy Codes that took affect July 1, in the area of existing housing. I am also interested in growing the non-residential segments of this business. Having worked to save energy in a commercial high-rise, a hospital and shopping center, I hope to become involved in the State’s Proposition 39 program this coming year.

What has been your most surprising lesson in business?
Flexibility! I needed to learn much more than I knew to be successful. Accepting my limits, drawing on ideas and support from WEV, being willing and open-minded enough to try new things was as much a key to success as the hard skills I had learned.

Please describe how you have helped WEV, as well as list other WEV clients you’ve worked with.
Not as much as I would like! I am currently exploring the Thrive in Five program as I pursue alternative growth opportunities. I am also actively seeking accounting/bookkeeping support from within the WEV family. I have certainly recommended the SET program many times.

What advice do you offer others who might want to start their own business?
When considering a business start-up stick with what you know and like – starting and operating a business is a good deal more complex than the good or service you offer. Realize that you know only a small portion of all that you will need to know to be a success. Accept your limitations and reach out for help – you cannot possibly do it all yourself! Be willing to modify or change your business plans on the fly because you will likely be overcome by events – circumstances are always subject to change!