David Hsu and Ching Liu, founders of renewable energy leader SolarMax Technology, Inc., can now add a prestigious 2015 Spirit of the Entrepreneur Award for top Corporate Entrepreneur to the company’s growing trophy case. The pair, along with leaders from 10 other Inland Empire-based companies, earned top honors at this year’s black-tie affair, held November 10 at the Riverside Convention Center. More than 740 business and community leaders across the region gathered for the gala, organized by the California State San Bernardino Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship. SolarMax shared top honors in the Corporate Entrepreneur category with another Riverside-based company, Cibaria International. Both were among 28 Finalist companies to qualify for the prestigious competition.
The Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards celebrate the leadership, innovation, and business acumen of Inland Empire entrepreneurs. This year’s showcase marked the 13th edition and for many long-time attendees, the event many characterize as “the Oscars of Local Business” just gets better.“To win an award of this stature validates the vision, mission and values we established when we launched this company,” said Mr. Hsu, SolarMax CEO. “To have our leadership team there, many of whom have been with us since our earliest days – as well as the many partner companies who have supported us throughout our growth – made the honor even more memorable.”
The two SolarMax founders reflect that spirit, having launched their company in 2008, just as the world economy entered the Great Recession. Although sales steadily increased during those first two years, the company’s challenges in accessing shrinking U.S. capital markets inhibited early growth.Their major breakthrough came in 2010, when SolarMax Technology rolled out its own in-house financing program and established a direct lender relationship with its customer base. The program proved to be a game changer, enabling homeowners to go solar without the burden of a large upfront purchase.
“We are so proud to be recognized by the panel of judges – and, when I use the term ‘we,’ I’m not just referring to David and me,” Ching said in the SolarMax blog. “I’m talking about our entire company, because you can’t achieve the kind of success SolarMax has experienced without amazing people. Their insights, efforts – and perhaps most importantly – their resilience when faced with the challenges every growth company encounters, continues to inspire me.”SolarMax sales have surged dramatically since its humble beginnings in the City of Industry in 2008. That growth created the need for more space, which the company solved in 2012 by moving corporate headquarters to the Inland Empire and into a facility that’s more than 100 times larger than its original space. Today, SolarMax operates from a registered, historic 165,000 square-foot building located just off the 91 freeway in Riverside.