From design/build schools to breweries and social entrepreneurs, AllEarth Renewables is proud to have helped innovative businesses and individuals across the northeast generate their own power from the sun. Our Renewable Revolutionaries video series goes behind the scenes to profile iconic brands and people that are pioneering a sustainable future for us all.
Michael Claudon, the founder and CEO of Snake Mountain Boatworks, understands the importance of investment--investment of time, of money, and of energy. After arriving in Vermont in 1970, he joined the faculty at Middlebury College, where he taught economics and the art of starting new enterprises for 41 years, before retiring in 2010. Just before his retirement, on a trip to a former student's home in the Adirondacks, he discovered his second calling in the form of a 32-foot 1928 Chris-Craft boat. This piece of floating art, as he calls it, inspired him to start his own business, preserving and restoring antique boats.
What most attracted Michael to these pre-World War II boats were the details (the streamlined design, the beautiful lines, the sense that every element of each boat was meticulously thought out) and he made it his goal to preserve that attention to detail in his own work. Michael believes you don't need fancy tools for the work that he does--many of the tools in their workshop are twenty to forty years old. It's about using simple tools to mold the wood back into shape, so that you can save the boat for the next three decades. Snake Mountain Boatworks prides itself on working to only the highest standards of craftsmanship, even though that means they might be more expensive than the competition. Michael's name, and the names of his team members, are on every boat the shop sends out, and that commitment to quality is what defines the company.
"We're making a 5.2% rate of return on our [renewable] investment. How many other investments do we have today that are paying 5%?"
When Michael was starting out on making his boat preservation business a reality, his initial financial analysis revealed that energy would be a big problem for them--the shop uses approximately 22,000-24,000 kWh of electricity a year. He decided to purchase three AllEarth Solar Trackers, a 12kW installation, to help offset that energy usage. The trackers, combined with an additional onsite wind turbine, produce 88% of the company's electricity requirements annually. Not only is this a sustainable solution that reduces the company's environmental impact, it's a financially savvy decision. As an economist, Michael knows the value of smart investments, and has calculated that the business is making a 5.2% return on their renewable investment--a rate that's virtually unheard of in any other form of investment in the financial world.
This investment in solar and wind has allowed Snake Mountain Boatworks to grow and, just as importantly, operate with the smallest carbon footprint possible, ensuring that they can continue to preserve and restore boats for future generations to treasure.
To learn more about the Renewable Revolutionaries series, and to watch other episodes, please visit the Renewable Revolutionaries page.