Brett is an Electrician, Electrical Engineer and a CEC Accredited Solar Power Installer. After working for many years as an Electrician and then in radio telemetry, Brett discovered an avid interest in solar power and went on to establish Solar Power Australia (SPA).
Solar Power Australia is an Australian owned and operated company offering customised solar solutions for niche markets, such as solar trailers and solar lighting systems for mine, council and construction sites. With Brett behind the wheel, the business has grown steadily.
A personal interest in cars and an electrical engineering background sparked Brett’s innovative spirit and inspired him to create a number of high performance electric vehicles and some high powered lithium battery storage solutions. After discovering that there was no battery powerful enough on the market for his needs, Brett built his own. This is now known as the ELMOFO E-Cell Lithium Battery, built right here in Newcastle.
• What journey led you to start your own business?
I had a passion for renewable energy, of all types, and this consumed my day to day thoughts when I was working my day job. Although I enjoyed what I was doing, I knew I needed to do something more, so I started researching further until I felt confident that this was my next step in life.
In 2000, I left my stable job and, with a young family, took on the challenge of starting a solar power business. Considering this was over 17 years ago and solar was not that popular with mainstream society, I was told “you’re crazy, only hippies want solar and they have no money”. Somehow, that didn’t turn me off. If fact, those “hippies” were some of my first customers wanting off grid systems and are still customers today.
• Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I was motivated by the challenge of creating something new and making it work. I can see how concepts should work theoretically, but how applying them practically is where the magic happens. Determining a need in my sphere of interest, and creating a solution to address that need is extremely satisfying, and the main driver behind forging ahead and taking risks to ensure success.
I’ve never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but more a business person with a vision, passion and the drive to see it through.
• What is one action or task you incorporate into your diary each week?
To always remember to switch off my brain after work on a Friday, as this is my only real time to relax and unwind.
Time with friends and family sometimes comes second when you are busy running a business, but with a strong support group around me, I am always reminded to step away for some much needed time out.
• What do you attribute your success to?
I attribute my success to five key areas:
• Believing in and backing myself and not being afraid to ask questions and/or collaborate with others.
• Surrounding myself with likeminded people who support my aspirations and goals.
• My support network of family and friends, some of whom work with me, that I know I can trust implicitly.
• Taking the first step – if the idea doesn’t work, I know early, before I’ve invested too much.
• Not allowing the knockers and negative people to hinder your drive and passion to move forward with your dreams.
• Which local entrepreneur do you find inspiring?
There are many entrepreneurs who have inspired me over the years, but there has been one that stands out.
He may not be local, but we all know him, Elon Musk – for his perseverance, innovation and drive to push the boundaries.