Tim Martinez: Solar Construction Manager at EcoPower

Solar is putting his children to work in Wisconsin now too

Solar energy is in Tim Martinez’s DNA. It must be, because he passed on his passion for solar to three of his four children who now work side-by-side with him at EcoPower, a Madison-based solar installation company. His youngest, 19-year-old Alyssa, was shadowing him at work starting at age 9.

Alyssa Martinez, already a solar worker at age 19. (Photo: Pat Robinson)

“My daughter always wanted to go to work with me. Just like I did with my dad when I was a kid,” he said. “All my kids are hard workers. They like the outdoors, the challenge of the job and how solar works — they like everything about it.”

Martinez is a superintendent and construction manager at EcoPower, overseeing teams of solar installers across the country. His Wisconsin team of about 30 workers is currently installing solar systems at several businesses in the Milwaukee and Madison area, including a 700 kilowatt-hour system at Badger Meter — the nation’s leading manufacturer of water meters.

“We are installing everything — putting up the panels, building the racking, wiring them up and bringing them down to the invertors on the ground,” he said. “My son Devin is the foreman running the project, and my daughters have been working on it too.”

Devin, Alyssa and Tim Martinez (left to right) all work together at EcoPower. Here they are on the Badger Meter job site. (Photo: Pat Robinson)

Prior to working for EcoPower, Martinez spent 15 years in the solar industry in California. Taking the job at EcoPower allowed Martinez to get back to his families’ roots in Wisconsin.

“My wife and her family are from Wisconsin. I met her here and our kids were born here. I’m a Packers fan and a Badger fan and consider Wisconsin my home. I love it here,” he said.

Martinez started his career as a communications and electronics specialist for the U.S. Army where he served as an Army Ranger for 6 years. He then went on to get his master electrician license and worked for a large electrical contractor in California before getting into the solar business.

“As tradesmen, we take pride in our work or we wouldn’t do what we do,” he said. “I used to drive by gas stations and tell my kids, ‘look at the lights — I put those up.’”

“I feel an even greater sense of pride working in the solar industry. When you are done installing and flip the switch, you can see the meter running backwards and putting energy back into the grid rather than taking it out. It’s rewarding to eliminate the emissions and environmental footprint and produce your own power.”

Martinez says although business is booming at EcoPower, Wisconsin’s solar industry has a lot of room to grow. But as more companies invest in solar systems, such as the one at Badger Meter and the recently completed 1.2 megawatt system at American Family Insurance, the more people will understand that solar energy simply makes good business sense.

“Now that we’ve done these projects, people realize these companies aren’t going to spend money just to spend money. They are doing their research and seeing that solar pencils out in a big way and will save them a ton of money.”

He’s already seen an uptick in demand for EcoPower’s services in just the past few months.

“You have to be careful what you wish for. We could double in size by this time next year in Wisconsin only.”

That means there should be plenty of work on the horizon for Martinez, his children and quite possibly his future grandchildren, who will likely also inherit his passion for solar.