February 7, 2023

Get to Know Tom Kunhardt, Director of Customer Success, Correlate

At Correlate, our team is our biggest asset and we’re proud to have an incredible group of individuals who bring a wide range of backgrounds and expertise to the table. We recently sat down with Director of Customer Success, Tom Kunhardt to get to know him better, learn what brought him to Correlate and what he’s most excited for as he looks ahead. 

Have you always been in the clean tech space? What led you to it? 

At a very young age, I learned to love and respect nature. I was fortunate enough to spend my summers in our family-built double A-frame cabin on a small lake in New Hampshire. I am even more fortunate that this home is still in the family so that my daughters and grandchildren can spend time as I did, appreciating this conservation-protected lake basin for years to come. 

I’ve always had a bit of an activist’s spirit. I was teased in high school for circulating petitions to ban the pesticide DDT and pass the nation’s first “Bottle Bill.” It is comforting to know the EPA did ban DDT and our nation’s symbol, the Bald Eagle, flourished as a result. The “Bottle Bill” passed and Massachusetts became the first state to recycle glass bottles if they were brought back to the store. Today, curbside recycling is the norm. 

In 2006, while transitioning from the professional photography industry, I had an opportunity to determine a path forward where I could have the greatest impact in the shortest time possible for the sake of future generations. I quickly landed on commercial solar and building energy efficiency as my top two areas of focus. I took a slight turn into residential solar, followed by small format hydrogen fuel cells, and back into residential solar. There is a reason we call it the “solar coaster”! 

After a stint with a start-up fuel cell company, ClearEdge Power, I got back on the ‘solar coaster’ at One Block Off the Grid, once known as the “Expedia of Solar.” We were acquired by Pure Energies based in Toronto, Canada and quickly became one of the fastest growing residential solar sales companies in the US. NRG took notice and acquired us in 2014. As Corporate Trainer for Pure and NRG, I trained over 200 people in sales, operations, and system design until 2016, when NRG Home Solar closed its doors. 

How long have you been with Correlate? How did you end up there, and what is your role specifically? 

I worked with two Correlate founding members when I was the Customer Relations Manager at REC Solar in 2007-2008, and joined the team in 2016, after 10 years in the industry, as Director of Customer Success. 

In my role, I support our sales and operations teams to ensure partners and customers have a great experience working with Correlate. Data is an important part of every customer’s effort to improve their Net Operating Income (NOI). With good data, we can truly support and manage a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) or CRE (Corporate Real Estate) portfolio’s assets as it pertains to adopting clean energy, carbon reduction, transportation, and resiliency. We do this to support large asset owners to legitimately increase their ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) score for the investment community, and more importantly for the health of our planet. 

I guess you could say that I try to prevent the adage, ‘garbage in, garbage out’.

What’s your favorite part about working at Correlate? 

I believe in our mission to influence and transform the fourth Industrial Revolution to create a world that is built on clean energy and a low carbon way of life for homes, businesses, industry, and transportation. 

Todd has a master plan and it’s really exciting knowing that there is this big vision we’re working towards daily. Between the experience and capabilities Todd and the entire team has, and what’s coming in under the Correlate umbrella with our various acquisitions, it’s very motivating to see it all come to life.

What’s your team like? What’s the culture like?

Todd has been really clever and thoughtful with how he’s built this team. We have an incredible group of industry veterans who all bring experience from different areas that really complement each other well. 

There are no big egos, just experts dedicated to collaboration. We all trust each other to contribute to our collective success. And, although we are located across the country, we work as though we are officemates. We have daily phone calls to keep us in touch and keep communication flowing. This is a key factor to setting a tone for accountability, and keeping each other honest and in check as a team of equals. 

While we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we take the work very seriously. It’s a great combination. There are people on the team who inevitably have me in stitches of laughter anytime we get together. We’re focused and we work hard but we also bond over things like coaching our kid’s sports teams. It’s a great balance.

What are you most excited about – personally, and professionally?

Personally, my growing family is both exciting for me and is what keeps me motivated to succeed in our business. 

Professionally, the fact that Correlate is busy enabling business and industry to change how they use energy resources across their portfolio is really exciting. It is good to see that companies and investors understand the value in improving their portfolios. ESG measurement, certification, and improvement is front and center across all business sectors – finally! 

Additionally, the current Administration’s ability to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act have both unlocked much needed private investment that is a major shot in the arm to our industry and will lead the continued success of Correlate. 

Where do you look for inspiration? What do you like to do outside of work?

Spending time with my family is really important to me. I particularly love exploring and sharing new hikes with them (as seen below) and doing art and science projects with my grandkids. Nature has always been an integral part of my life and sharing and instilling that in my family and teaching them about the importance of preserving it has been a priority. It helps that we all live in northern California, where there is no shortage of beautiful places to discover and adventure.

I also really enjoy traveling, especially if it involves getting back to our lake house in New Hampshire during the summers. And of course, photography, which was one of my first loves and professions!

Tom with his family on a hike in Northern California

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