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ALBANY — Monolith Solar has named Chris Stroud as its new CEO. Stroud, replaces Mike Hickey who departed back in September after just one year in office.
“It feels great to be part of this organization and I’m thrilled to be here as I know we’ve got a great team,” he said. “And I think we’ve got a lot of promise for 2019 and beyond, so I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Previously, Stroud served as the company’s vice president in Business and Program Development from this past July to September. He explained that there is not much of a difference in new duties as CEO would be in comparison to his last position. “It’s managing the growth of the business and its sustainability, and establishing short– and long–term strategies and execution plans.”
His promotion comes as Monolith continues to address both internal and financial issues.
In September, it stopped construction of its $4.9 million headquarters at the Vista Technology Campus in Slingerlands and then furloughed 58 employees—Stroud confirmed that it was a mix of Monolith Solar employees and construction workers. Prior to that, the company had to face two lawsuits concerning unpaid bills, one with law firm Couch White and the other with solar product distributor CED Greentech.
Monolith Solar did not respond to calls for an interview regarding the aforementioned issues, and instead sent out a press statement via email.
During a Spotlight News interview with Bethlehem’s Planning Division director Robert Leslie and Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Tim Connolly regarding September’s events, both officials expressed confusion as neither was informed by Monolith Solar about what was happening within the company nor knew when the headquarters’ construction would resume.
“We have a financial restructuring plan for our organization already in place, not only of debts and obligations, but it’s also the establishment of a very substantial construction financing pipeline, which can tend to be a weakness for other organizations that have to build and stop and build and stop as they obtain construction financing,” Stroud said. “But we’re in negotiations in establishing that very substantial construction financing pipeline that will carry us for a year or more, without having to stop our progress or distract ourselves from our objectives of getting work done.”
He was not able to elaborate more on that pipeline though citing a confidentiality agreement before the negotiations are done. “But we are on a path,” he reiterated. “We’re just bound by certain non-disclosure terms and conditions but I can say that we expect to close the negotiations within the next few weeks and ideally within the calendar year of 2018. And we will then be executing our 2019 construction plan, which includes growth and a very positive outlook.”
When asked how he felt about becoming the new CEO while the company was facing the aforementioned issues, he said that every business has challenges and in Monolith Solar’s case, he wants to look forward, focus on getting work done and continue making a positive impact on the environment by promoting solar energy.
Stroud has an extensive background in manufacturing, supply chain management and operations handling. Before his time at Monolith Solar, he was the director of supply chain at Albany Molecular Research Inc. from Dec. 2017 to May 2018, and the director of solar operations at General Electric in Schenectady from Jan. 2013 to Oct. 2017. He has also held prior engineering and managerial roles with companies including Pepsi and the Dole Food Company.
From those experiences, he said it helped push him to work in high-speed, high-stress and constant decision-making environments, which would complement his expected workload as Monolith Solar’s new CEO.
Looking ahead, he wants the company to achieve further “growth and stability.” While he said there are no specifics as to how to address that yet, he believes that the company would help push renewable energy and the solar industry “towards a bright future, and we have a great team to execute.” He also brought up how there are hopes to expand Monolith Solar more throughout the state and even nationwide someday.
He connected that with how he would want “folks to ask themselves what is renewable energy, and what is renewable energy for me. And, we want to help folks bridge that gap, and community solar is becoming more and more popular. There are many ways that people can now embrace renewable energy that they couldn’t even three or four years ago.”
He concluded, “I would encourage folks to learn, reach out and contribute to the renewable space more than they think they can do.”