Florida installer hopes to leave lasting legacy on community through charitable causes

Of the many cultural virtues, kindness and charity would be associated with Florida installer Solar-Fit, no question. President Bill Gallagher started the company in 1975 and still feels pride for everything Solar-Fit (No. 318 on the 2021 Top Solar Contractors list) has accomplished, from the almost 20,000 projects installed to the support shown to both the solar industry and local community.

“We’ve been so fortunate. This is our 46th year doing this. We have seen rock bottom and we’ve seen the top,” he said. “Through it all, we’ve been so lucky. We’ve supported so many people. It’s the greatest feeling knowing that I have employees coming to work in new cars and they bought homes because of Solar-Fit. That’s what drives you.”

Solar-Fit has expanded that community support to more causes, more recently with the Race to Stop Suicide initiative through stock car driver Daniel Dye’s charitable foundation 71 MVP. Solar-Fit pledged $50,000 (or $500 per solar customer through the first half of 2021) to the initiative and plans to extend its support going forward. Gallagher, who lost a friend to suicide, saw a need to support the Race to Stop Suicide initiative after seeing increased individual seclusion during COVID-19 lockdowns.

“You always have these thoughts, ‘What if I could have been there? Why couldn’t I do more?’” he said. “If we could just open up, and people start talking and finding out what they can do. We just want to do something. We want to make a difference.”

The relationship between Solar-Fit and the Race to Stop Suicide blossomed as a result of their support of Dye’s racing endeavors. Dye, a 17-year-old super late model driver known throughout the Southeast and a rookie in the national ARCA Menards series, is a volunteer spokesperson for Florida hospital Halifax Health’s suicide prevention program and has donated over $30,000 to the hospital through his family’s charity efforts. His cars, which feature Solar-Fit sponsorship, also prominently broadcast Dye’s support of the Race to Stop Suicide.

“People have contacted Daniel saying things like, ‘I was in Pensacola and I saw your car. I was thinking about doing it, but it really made me stop and think,’” Gallagher said. “How can it get better than that? When you talk about being able to give back and saving someone, that’s what we’re all about.”

Gallagher thought Solar-Fit’s success could be shared in a more significant way, which is why the company is donating in the name of each solar customer rather than as one organization.

“I don’t want somebody thinking we’re inflating the price [of a solar system] to do it. We’re not,” he said. “We’re taking money out of our profits and putting it into what we feel is a good cause.”

With more than four decades of business experience on which to reflect, Gallagher wants Solar-Fit’s legacy to continue as a virtuous community member.

“I look around at what’s happening in Florida, and I see this rapid expansion [of solar]. Not everyone is going to feel the way we feel,” Gallagher said. “But for the people that really want to [prove] they’ve done something that’s going to affect a massive amount of people…when somebody commits suicide, it’s not just that person. It’s all these people that have been left behind with the nagging thoughts. My suggestion is just take the time to ask the questions, to care.

“It’s not something that makes you feel good to talk about, but once you talk about it, you think, ‘Maybe there is something I can do here,’” he added.

This story was featured exclusively in our 2021 Top Solar Contractors issue. See the issue and full list of top U.S. solar installers here. 

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