As an industry leader for more than 20 years, Solar Innovations® has a long history that is rooted in the heart of manufacturing with a deep passion for the American dream.
It was in 1997 when Greg Header was asked to help save a small, struggling solarium manufacturing company. With his drive to succeed, Greg was able to learn the business, see its shortcomings, and dig it out of the red. Seeing the potential in the once failing company, Greg decided to take his role from business consultant to owner. It was then in 1998, that Solar Innovations® was formed and the doors of opportunity and innovation began to open.
With only six team members and a 6,000-square-foot facility in Hellam, PA, Solar’s beginnings were humble. While we may have been small, we were relentless and didn’t let our size define us. Expanding from simple, lean-to solariums, Solar focused on a goal to make the best greenhouses and conservatories in the US.
Fast forward five years to 2003: Solar moved to a 30,000-square-foot facility in Myerstown, PA with a solid team of 21 strong. It was there that we added our fenestration products to our ever-growing structures line. The need for Solar to develop its own fenestration line came into play when we could not purchase quality doors, windows, and ridge vents for our structure line—so we made our own. In 2004 we introduced the largest American-made folding glass walls to our product line, which also featured in-house manufactured hinges and, to this day, offer the highest quality design and pressure for their size. Two years later, the square footage in Myerstown had expanded to 45,000 and our offices were upgraded from a simple construction trailer to a restored farmhouse.
By 2005, the name Solar Innovations® was known worldwide. Traveling more than 5,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean, our folding glass walls made their first international debut in Russia. Over the next few years, our motorized G3 Radius Sliding Doors traveled nearly 7,000 miles in the opposite direction to the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex in Dubai. Not far from Dubai, a 5,300-square-foot Solar Innovations® conservatory also stands in Saudi Arabia.
Two years later, Solar’s sister company, Innovative Reel Technologies® was born. We quickly became known as the “glass guys who made fishing reels too” and continue to push ourselves to be the best in the fishing industry as well.
Commitment, Dedication, and Innovation
At its core, Solar has been proud to grow into a company that is committed to helping the community and also dedicated to solving any customer’s needs. As time went on, Solar started to become very comfortable with what we could do with aluminum – our processes were streamlined, and we were confident in the products we could produce. We knew we had the ability to be the best, but you don’t become the best by standing still—maintaining an innovative culture requires continuous innovation. It was time for Solar to tackle challenges in other material types – wood curtain walls.
In 2008, we were challenged by a customer who had a rapidly approaching deadline and was in need of an impact-rated wood curtain wall. In true Solar fashion, we made it happen. We designed, tested, and manufactured our first impact-rated wood curtain wall within their time frame and, as a result, had a new product we could offer our customers. We are a group of solutions providers and we work hard every day to turn ideas into products that continue to satisfy time and time again. Many of our thirty plus and counting product lines are the results of solving customer pains and filling their needs.
In 2009, we relocated to our current location in Pine Grove, PA. Team members and visitors alike are now greeted by an entryway featuring over 10,000-square-feet of glass. By incorporating virtually all of our products throughout our property, we turned our new building into both a showroom and a training facility. With a brand new 224,000-square-foot building and 97 team members, we thought we had reached our peak, but little did we know, Solar had not even scratched the surface.
In 2010, Solar once again showed its innovation by developing Universal® Clamps, a simple and dependable solution for attaching loads to any standing seam or metal roof. When over 2,000 solar panels were installed on the roof of Solar’s facilities, a solution was needed for attaching the panels without causing damage to the roof. Instead of looking elsewhere to solve the problem, Solar simply developed its own solution, which is now a patented design. As a result, our facility now produces over 80 percent of our electricity needs.
A Leader in Manufacturing
As time went on and the company quickly received recognition for the quality and efficiency of its products, Solar lead an effort to continue to innovate new products for the marketplace. As a result, Solar now has over 30 patents under its belt and has many more in the pending process. Our patents touch a vast range of our products including IRT Reels®, Universal® Clamps, glass rails, hardware, folding glass walls, and many more.
By taking on bigger and more complex projects, Solar soon began to reach new heights. In 2012, we began designing 20-foot, motorized sliding doors for the headquarters of a California based internet company. In 2013, one of the greenest buildings ever was built in Pittsburgh, PA and Solar created a wooden segmented radius curtain wall that spanned the entire façade of the building. Standing 33 stories tall, the Tower at PNC Plaza not only challenged our team to make the impossible possible and develop several new products to meet their needs, including a patented facade door system, but it also shared a common goal of substantially reducing environmental impact.
In 2014, Solar was once again approached for a unique project, and as a result, launched our vinyl-composite product line. Not only did we expand our own capabilities in manufacturing, but Solar had another happy customer to add to its ever-growing list. In addition, many of our aluminum products are now offered in vinyl-composite to give our customers as many options as possible when working on their project.
A Green Initiative
Solar prides itself in living and working green and it is one of our core values that we live and work by. Our confidence and strength come from the foundation of these core values and we constantly push to exceed them. We take pride in the fact that our extrusions are 23 percent post-consumer recycled content and 41 percent pre-consumer recycled content. We also utilize FSC certified lumber when possible. Most of our office and shop energy is produced by PV solar panels, our campus is 98.5 percent landfill free, and both our office and manufacturing facility were designed to be LEED Gold Certified. By living and breathing these values on a daily basis, the team members at Solar are constantly improving and innovating not only themselves, but Solar as a whole.
Today, under the watchful eye of the Appalachian Trail, Solar Innovations® proudly stands on 36 acres of land. Nestled among the beautiful Pennsylvania landscape and surrounded by wildlife, our three-building campus features over 400,000-square-feet of industry-leading office and manufacturing space.
Turning the Page
Regardless of what page you are on in the “Solar Story,” our Purpose of “partnering to make a sustainable difference for our customers, vendors, team members, community, and environment” has remained the same.
What and who has Solar become? It’s our daily Mission “to be the leader in the design, manufacturing, and service of Architectural Glazing Systems.” Our Core Values help our team to remember who we are and how we live our lives inside and outside of Solar. We always want to “be better today than yesterday, make the impossible possible, put safety first, deliver a customer experience beyond expectation, live and work green, and build strength through teamwork.”
Where are we headed? Every day Solar is working towards our Big Hairy Audacious Goals of becoming “the best place to work and the best at what we do” while never losing sight of our Vision “to be recognized as the top brand in specialty doors, windows, glass structures, and skylights.” By continuously creating innovative designs and engineering new product lines, the Solar team carves its path into the future by promoting a strong spirit of unity and teamwork. The possibilities for Solar Innovations® continue to advance and cultivate as a direct result of our passion for the industry, the creativity of our customers, and the knowledge of our world-class team.
From north to south and east to west across North America, and even worldwide, you are sure to see the name Solar Innovations® in hotels, restaurants, sporting complexes, retail stores, colleges, and maybe even on your own front door.
The story of American made products by Solar Innovations® is continuously being written and improved. Working together, we can be a part of your story and turn the page onto a brighter and more innovative future.