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Meet Jim Jenal of Run on Sun in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jim Jenal.

Jim, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 2006, I was a lawyer with a major LA law firm. I was coming home on the train from San Diego where we had just been victorious at trial, and as I pondered the sunny scenery out the Amtrak window, I realized that if I never went to trial again, that would just be fine. I knew it was time to find something new.

After some soul-searching, I came up with the idea of starting a solar installation company. The idea wasn’t quite so far removed from my prior experiences – in addition to a law degree, I have two technical degrees: a BS in Mathematics, and an MS in Computer Science. I had studied electronics all through high school (indeed, most of what I needed to know for solar I learned as a freshman Electronics student!), so technically I felt on solid ground. I convinced a former client of mine to go in with me, and the company was founded in September, 2006.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
While we set out to learn the business of solar, I continued to work as a lawyer, so I wasn’t able to devote full-time effort to the company until 2008 – just in time for the Great Recession. Overnight, access to capital disappeared for many of our clients – indeed, of the contracts we had signed in December 2008, 60% of them were never built!

We stayed lean, and survived.

We have never purchased leads. We have never offered leases. Why? Because lead-gen shops annoy people, and leases are a bad deal for our clients. That slowed our growth – hard to compete with “free” – but it allowed us to focus on building top-quality projects for a more select clientele.

That strategy has resulted in lots of referral business and glowing reviews online.

Please tell us about Run on Sun.
From the very beginning, we were determined to view the process differently. While most solar companies have customers, we have clients, and the difference is crucial. A customer is a transactional relationship – you order your mocha, pay the barista, get your drink, and that is the end of it.

A client, on the other hand, is a trust-based relationship. Lawyers have clients. You have duties to a client that you simply do not have with a customer.

We believed that there was a niche for a company that could answer every question with complete candor. (Compared to a salesperson who knows their script, but when a difficult question comes up, they have nothing to say, or worse yet, just make things up!) As a result, we have a reputation for being a “straight-shooter” and people feel comfortable recommending us to their friends and neighbors.

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Image Credit:
Run on Sun

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Jenal

    January 29, 2018 at 04:33

    Great article! With his team of consummate professionals, Jim Jenal has built a wonderful company that addresses client needs with a level of attention, thoroughness, accuracy and integrity that have, unfortunately, become rare in our sound byte world.

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