Renewable energy leader SolarMax Technology has earned many accolades for its forward-thinking, innovative work within an industry that’s revolutionizing the way we power our world. The company’s latest recognition, however, pays homage to its embrace of the past. The Old Riverside Foundation bestowed one of its historic preservation awards to SolarMax during the nonprofit’s recent annual meeting, held at the renowned Willits J. Hole Mansion in the community’s La Sierra area. The Riverside-based renewable energy company, which specializes in residential solar as well as cutting-edge LED technology, earned top honors in the category: Adaptive Reuse of a Historic Industrial Building.
Judges gave SolarMax high marks for its efforts to save the structure, which for many years operated as a manufacturing plant for Food Machinery Corporation. Military historians know it best as the facility that produced the acclaimed World War II amphibious vehicles known as “Water Buffalos.”Years of inactivity and neglect following the plant’s closure had left the sawtooth-roofed building in poor condition. That all changed in 2012, when SolarMax Co-Founder and Executive Vice-President Ching Liu discovered the hidden treasure. Ching knew the south-facing structure would be perfect to capture and harness the sun’s power – and believed it possessed the right feng shui for SolarMax.
Ching and company Co-Founder David Hsu, SolarMax CEO, led a sweeping transformation of the interior, turning the historic building into a state-of-the-art 21st century manufacturing and sales facility that now occupies some 165,000 square feet of space. It also symbolizes the Inland Empire’s commitment to becoming a world-class leader in renewable energy.
Old Riverside Foundation Vice President Dr. Vincent Moses said, “This project reflects the very best of architectural preservation. The principals have maintained the unique structural elements of this mid-20th century commercial jewel and through thoughtful interior design have effectively re-defined its historical and cultural significance to the Riverside community.”
Ching said, “Before we ever swung the first hammer, we understood how important this building was to the development of this region and that meant so much to us. This plant has effectively bridged two generations, creating tremendous economic opportunities for the people in Riverside and surrounding areas. We are so grateful – and honored – to carry that storied tradition into the future.”