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Meet Sam Johnson of Better Tomorrow Solar in Reynoldstown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Johnson.

Sam, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I came to Atlanta from a small town in west Georgia to attend Georgia State University. Growing up, I spent much of my time outdoors immersed in nature and growing to love its complexity. Those years I spent far away enough from light pollution to see the milky way were formative for me, but I always knew ultimately I craved the social and cultural experiences of the city.

I got my degree in marketing and psychology. After graduation, I began to realize that I wasn’t happy with the sorts of jobs I was able to find – retail and standard office work mostly. I spent a year working jobs I really didn’t care about to stay afloat financially while my partner finished his last year of school, also at Georgia State. Once he’d graduated, we moved to Seoul and spent a year and a half teaching English to grade-schoolers and traveling.

Teaching had its rewarding moments – at one point, I was able to live my middle school lit teacher fantasy by putting together a literary analysis course for the advanced students based on works of gothic horror from the last century, but I knew it was not ultimately the path for me. Slowly I came to the understanding that what I wanted was mission-driven work. I have always been passionate about environmental protection and so I began searching for organizations which I felt were doing good work in Georgia.

I started out volunteering for different organizations around the city and met some amazing people who were all just as passionate about conservation and environmental protection as I was. Eventually, I landed an amazing fellowship at Southface Institute. They’re an organization that broadly focuses on increasing sustainability in the built environment, but they also act as a sort of nexus for the broader Atlanta environmental community. Through Southface, I became involved in the City of Atlanta Sustainability Ambassador program and that’s where I met the team at Better Tomorrow Solar.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It took me a while to realize that I wanted to become professionally involved with the environmental protection movement. At first, I was at a loss for how to begin getting involved. Eventually, I found my path forward by volunteering for organizations operating in the environmental space and making connections with people who were professionally involved.

The fact of the matter, though is that I had to do a lot of work for free. For the first year after I decided that I wanted to work in environmental protection, I was working strictly on a volunteer basis and continuing to support myself with retail, teaching online, and freelance work. Even after I found paid work in my area of interest, I don’t know for certain if I would have been able to support myself without my partner’s added income. Mission-driven work and nonprofit organizations are great because you feel that your job is contributing to a larger vision for how the world should/could be. Oftentimes though, these types of jobs come with a smaller salary than the same work for a profit-driven organization might get you. Because of this, many people cannot afford to work for nonprofits whose mission may be closer aligned with their passions. I was able to get involved with the sustainability movement in Atlanta by working for free, supporting myself through other means, and eventually meeting the right people through networking.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Better Tomorrow Solar Story. Tell us more about your work.
Better Tomorrow Solar is a solar installation company specializing in residential and commercial solar arrays that started up in 2018. The company is founded on a vision for a cleaner, greener, more sustainable world through renewable energy. Georgia is fairly behind in the renewable energy game. We work to empower more people in Georgia to save on their power costs, decrease their carbon impact and reliance on fossil fuels, and join the energy movement of the future.

Our mission is to empower our community to embrace solar and we do this by keeping our profit margins thin enough to make a solar installation appealing to the average home or business owner. We offer our clients a boutique solar experience, factoring their budget, goals, and lifestyle into our designs. Rather than outfit our clients with the biggest solar arrays they can afford every time, we work to find an optimized solar solution – a tailored fit for renewable energy. Our new office is on Memorial Drive and will be opening after some major renovations are finished (and after the COVID-19 situation has passed).

We have a few philanthropic projects in the works around the community, which I’m pretty excited about. In addition, from now until July 31, we have decided as a team to donate the profits of all contracts we sign to COVID-19 relief efforts around Georgia. It’s a great feeling to work with a diverse, talented team to make Atlanta a little greener every day.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Each phase of my career to this point has felt like crossing a river by hopping from one stone to another with my eyes closed. It feels like most of the opportunities I have had came to me because I was in the right place at the right time with the right people. Looking back, what has been most helpful has been finding people and organizations who share a vision for an equitable future where society can thrive alongside nature – not at its expense. Once you find yourself in a room full of people who care about the same things as you, conversation (and networking) become much easier.

I am extremely lucky to have been able to support myself through other means while I made contacts in the environmental space through volunteer work. It’s not something everyone can do and it is a barrier to getting a more diverse range of people involved in this sort of work.

Pricing:

  • Our Spring Solar Sale is in full swing – Solar installations at $2.50/watt
  • There is a 26% Federal tax credit on the cost of a solar installation for the remainder of 2020
  • Many utility companies (Jackson, Snapping Shoals, & Central GA EMCs to name a few) offer generous rebates on solar – Georgians with these utilities have the chance for massive savings on renewable energy

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