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Vanessa Hobson solar panels
Carlsbad resident, Vanessa Hobson, 43, was out of work prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but found a new career in selling residential solar panels with Solar Energy Partners. Courtesy photos
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Carlsbad woman finds successful career in solar sales

CARLSBAD — Like many people, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Hobson family hard.

Vanessa Hobson and her husband, Tod Haneberg, own an Anytime Fitness Gym in eastern Washington State and when it reopened, they lost 30% of their previous business. To make matters worse, Vanessa Hobson still hadn’t found a job yet after being laid off in 2019.

But while sifting through job ads roughly six months ago, Hobson stumbled onto Solar Energy Partners and found a rebirth in her career and life. Home improvement projects were all the rage throughout the summer, which spilled over into residential solar panels.

Brought on as an independent contractor, Hobson is closing an impressive four to five home installs per month. Also, the newfound flexibility and being her own boss has opened up the possibilities for her new career as she is taking advantage of marketing gaps to build her own brand, Clean Power On, and it allows her to spend more time with her family.

“From a marketing standpoint, I knew I wasn’t going to find a job,” Hobson said. “We ended up going solar and referring people left and right and banking all these referral credits. I started looking for a job and found a dealer.”

The solar industry has exploded during the pandemic as people are installing panels for several reasons from trying to save money to do their part in being more green.

She’s also more financially stable than in her previous job, leveraging personal relationships for those interested in solar and taking to social media for marketing and virtual calls to answer any and all questions.

David Madrid, one of the founding partners of Solar Energy Partners, said Hobson’s background was a perfect fit. She is a people person, he said, and because of federal policies and the shift to solar in the residential market reduces the difficulty in the sales process.

“She is incredibly talented and we’re grateful to have her,” Madrid said. “She has an ability to connect with people.”

As she builds her own business and brand, Hobson said she is in the process of scaling her brand and also becoming a mentor for other contractors.

Her life, she said, has changed for the better because she no longer has to “punch a clock” and manage a set schedule defined through the workplace. Now, she finds it easier to handle her own schedule, along with her 11-year-old son’s obligations.

“It’s been a complete life shift,” she said.

Solar Energy Partners was founded in 2017 and is based in Turlock, CA with another main office in Dallas, TX, Madrid said. He said they made 2020 into a growth year, despite the pandemic, by pivoting from in-home presentations to social distancing and virtual appointments.

Also, the company was able to hire more people and create new training methods to help individuals with no sales experience. In total, the company has 500 contractors in five states.

As far as Hobson, Madrid said her marketing and helping her husband run the gym made her a prime candidate as she had experience with direct sales.

“The transition wasn’t too big of a leap for her,” Madrid said. “Her drive, her discipline and her ability to connect with people are all really important pieces (of) solar sales platform.”

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