Doug Gillis met Sherry in 1989, three short years after opening Skyway Tools in Chico. Doug asked her out on their first date but, as the store’s sole proprietor, had to delay their date to take care of store billing and finish pricing tools. Sherry was in no mood for the delay and was looking forward to her date with Doug, so she offered to do the billing while he priced the tools. She never left the business. The two were soon married and she took over the store’s operations.
In 1995, the two launched skywaytools. com and began selling tools internationally. The business began booming and the two decided to stop renting. They bought their current property at the corner of Bruce Road and Skyway in 2006 and built their new store. The store continued to do well for the next few years but got hit hard by the recession. They began questioning if they would be able to keep the store open but, instead of panicking, they put a ten year strategy in place. They began buying up used metal barrels, plastic buckets, and other barrels both large and small. They cleaned them, and recycled them in the store, selling the used barrels to eco-conscious and price-conscious shoppers alike. The move saved their business, and now makes up 40% of their entire revenue.
Although they had survived the recession, the cost of doing business continued to increase and their energy bill was no different. At nearly $15,000 per year, the exorbitant expense of keeping the lights on was taking a major piece out of their bottom line. They were able to refinance their building in 2015 and decided to use the money to move to solar power. They had been given a number of quotes by solar salespeople who continued to stop into their business, but after reviewing the quotes, found that buying local with Sean at Urban Design Solar was hands down the best value at the lowest price. The solar salespeople even came out to rebid the project, but were still far over Urban Design Solar’s first bid. Doug and Sherry admired Sean’s knowledge of the industry and the level of service he provided throughout the process; they also found that Urban Design Solar had excellent references, a great portfolio of previous projects, and outstanding reviews on Yelp! They accepted their proposal and in just three short weeks their new solar installation was complete.
One of the most important aspects to any large purchase is whether or not it makes financial sense. In the case of Skyway Tools, it made perfect sense. From an average monthly PG&E bill of $1,250, the new solar array, installed by Urban Design Solar, quickly dropped their PG&E bill to just $12. With loan payments on their new solar array sitting at approximately half of their old energy bill, they are looking to rapidly pay off their system in just under five years. After the fifth year, Doug and Sherry can expect to save at least $15,000 each year for the life of their system, a wise investment indeed. By choosing Urban Design Solar as their solar contractor, Doug and Sherry saved $20,000 from the next closest bid. To say that they were satisfied with the experience is an understatement.
The two made the decision to move to solar power at just the right time. With PG&E rates on the rise and incentives like tax rebates quickly disappearing, the sooner businesses move to solar, the better. According to SFGate. com, small businesses should expect a 5.1% increase in energy bills this year; for Doug and Sherry’s small business, this would have amounted to an additional $765 in expenses in 2016 alone. To add to it, at the time of writing this article, PG&E only has 492.50 MW of solar energy allotment remaining before its Net Energy Metering (NEM) cap is reached. Once this cap is reached, a new set of guidelines will be implemented, changing the structure and pricing landscape for solar energy in California. The new NEM will introduce additional fees and a different rate structure. In February alone, applications for solar installations amounted to 59.88MW of solar. Should installations continue at that pace, the NEM cap will be reached in 8 short months at which point, new solar customers will lose out on the many benefits currently available.
Solar powered and ready to take on the next ten years, Skyway Tools is perfectly positioned to continue doing what it does best — sell tools, services, and provide education to our community. Whether you’re looking for air, hand, or power tools (especially those made in America), drill bits, channel locks, recycled house paint, barrels, or just about anything else in the tool world, Skyway Tools has you covered. If you’re looking to save money on your PG&E bill, take their advice and make sure to call Urban Design Solar.
You can see more about this installation here.