Curt Shellum, Owner
Curt has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Colorado. Most of his career has been in the field of analytical instrumentation at Mayo Clinic and other institutions.
Curt has completed certification programs and courses from Solar Energy International, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, St. Paul College, North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, and various industry sponsored programs.
He is active in Rochester Area Builders, Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and the Minnesota Student Energy Project where he is a current board member. Curt is also a member of the American Solar Energy Association and the Minnesota Solar Energy Industry Association.
Official title: Owner
Job description in 6 words or less: Shepherd of the flock
Solar matters because: It makes sense to use the sun for energy.
Stomping grounds: Rochester, Boulder, Austria
You’d never know it, but I: Play a mean trumpet.
Micah Johnson, Operations Manager
Micah has a Bachelor of Science from North Dakota State and was a teacher before joining Solar Connection in 2011 to lead installations and assist with business operations. He also works with area businesses and government leaders on solar policy issues.
Micah teaches the Community Education classes on solar energy as well as speaking and guest lecturing engagements at area schools, fairs and businesses. He is a member of the southeast MN CERTs steering committee (Clean Energy Resource Teams) and is active in the MN Renewable Energy Society, Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and the Rochester Area Builders. Micah lives in Rochester where he is also active in the community in various volunteer roles and as a musician.
Official title: Operations Manager
Job description in 6 words or less: In Charge of Lots of Stuff
Solar matters because: …where do I start? It’s the only way most people get to claim their energy freedom.
Stomping grounds: Rochester, St. Cloud, Twin Cities, Iron Range, Fargo, Southwest Minnesota
You’d never know it, but I: Once performed for 26,000 people.
Kris Shumway, Project Manager
Kris is a California native and a graduate of Colorado State University. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Design and Contracting. Kris brings extensive experience to the Solar Connection team, beginning his solar career in 2009. He has worked in the solar industry as an Engineering Technician, Senior PV System Designer and Construction Supervisor in Denver and has a wealth of experience in site audits, permitting, AutoCAD design and installation.
At Solar Connection, Kris is responsible for system design & details, permitting, utility interconnection and technical support. Kris resides in Rochester with his wife and young children.
Ike Estby, System Design and Installation
Ike Estby is a system designer at Solar Connection and also assists with installation and customer service. Ike has a background in construction and has completed the MREA Solar Academy. Ike analyzes customer needs and solar suitability. He determines if a site is ideal for solar and works with the customer to design a system that best suits their needs.
Ike grew up on his family’s small farm outside of Stewartville. In his free time, he soaks in Rochester’s music and dining scene. There are few things he loves more than ice fishing. Ike resides in Byron.
Official title: System Design
Solar matters because: It makes sense to use the sun for energy.
Stomping grounds: Rochester, Stewartville
You’d never know it, but I: Like dogs.
Chris Olofson, Solar Energy Expert
Chris grew up right here in NE Rochester. A graduate of Century High School, he went on to receive a bachelors degree in Accounting & Finance from St Cloud State University. He spent a few years in corporate America, working in finance for two Fortune 500 companies. Knowing that the 9 – 5 office grind was not the right path for him, he spent a summer with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota working on various environmental conservation projects. It was during this time that he was first exposed to the developing solar industry here in Minnesota, and the rest is history.
He brings a wealth of construction experience in Residential, Commercial, and Utility scale solar with over 10 Mega Watts of installations on his resume. Chris also has a great deal of experience in solar sales and system design. Chris primarily conducts site evaluations to show home and business owners how solar can reduce/eliminate their electric bills while helping them meet their sustainability goals.
Official title: Solar Energy Expert
Solar matters because: The sun is the most abundant source of energy on our planet; and harnessing it to sustainably power our modern day lives just makes sense. It is also a great financial investment!
Stomping grounds: NE Rochester, North Shore, BWCA
You’d never know it, but I: I love my job so much, I would do it for free (if I didn’t have to pay rent…)
Garret Sorensen, Energy Consultant
Garret holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Work from Winona State University and is also a Practitioner of Eastern Healing Arts, having attended Windemere School of Eastern Healing Arts. Garret is the Owner of Mandala Tea, which imports and sells Chinese and Taiwanese teas and tea accessories in Rochester.
Garret is no stranger to solar—his passion for solar began in 1990 where he built his own solar PV system and lived off the grid for seven years on a boat! You’ll enjoy Garret’s enthusiasm for solar (and tea!).
Taylor Iverson, Construction Manager
Originally hailing from Stewartville, Taylor started as an installer at Solar Connection while studying law enforcement. Unfortunately for our state’s police force, it turned out that Taylor enjoyed working in the solar industry more. He worked his way up to team lead, then foreman, and eventually construction manager.
Taylor is responsible for ensuring that all equipment and people are at the right place at the right time. He works directly with suppliers, customers and the installation crew. He coordinates inspections and is responsible for OSHA compliance across the company.
Taylor is an avid outdoorsman. His specialty is bow hunting white tail deer. He currently resides in Rochester.
Official title: Construction Manager
Job description in 6 words or less: Cat herder
Solar matters because: It’s important for the environment, it makes sense from a financial standpoint and the economy is moving that way anyway.
Stomping grounds: Stewartville, Rochester, Kasson.
You’d never know it, but I: Ate a bear.
Richard Skic, Crew Lead
Richard brings a wide-range of construction experience to Solar Connection. He has owned, managed and maintained his own rental properties, and served on installation crews in a variety of construction projects. He also has experience in construction training and sales.
At Solar Connection, Richard is a contributing member of the installation crew, working closely with the crew lead to safely and successfully complete residential and commercial solar installations. He is responsible for preparation, installation, maintenance and repair or modifications when requested.
Richard is an avid outdoorsman and resides in Rochester.
Official title: Solar Installer
Job description in 6 words or less: Done right the first time.
Solar matters because: It’s a clean, renewable resource.
Stomping grounds: Rochester, Stewartville.
You’d never know it, but I: Hunted zebra, impala, steenbok and gemsbok on a South African safari.
Cole Swanson, Solar Installation
Cole is a Rochester native, having graduated from John Marshall High School. He also attended University of North Dakota. Cole is a Solar Installer and brings an extensive construction background to the Solar Connection team—framing, concrete, demolition, roofing and remodeling to name a few.
Kirk Johnson, Solar Installation
Kirk is a member of our solar installation team. He obtained wind power education and worked in that industry in repair, turbine service and repair for over five years. Kirk’s construction experience as well as his interest in renewable energy and his experience, are an asset to Solar Connection.
Todd Renard, Marketing & Scheduling
Todd holds a Master’s degree in Sustainable Management from University of Oshkosh and a Bachelor’s degree in Persuasion & Public Communications from the University of LaCrosse. Todd’s diverse background brings fantastic experience and energy to Solar Connection. He’s worked in the food service industry training and managing employees, and also taught in the public school system with the Korean Ministry of Education in South Korea. His experience in renewables includes a Sustainability Intern where he worked to develop, implement and communicate the sustainability efforts to stakeholders as well as a Green Energy Marketing Intern to fund the development of an active branch of PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) in New Jersey.
At Solar Connection, Todd is responsible for Marketing, Outreach and Canvassing efforts.
Todd’s passions outside of Solar Connection include rock climbing, camping, hiking…anything outdoors and he’s fluent in Korean. Todd resides in Rochester.
Jerry Cleveland, Solar Outreach
Jerry Cleveland is a native of SE Minnesota and is a big proponent of sustainable solutions to modern problems. Jerry provides targeted outreach and community education on solar energy throughout the region. Jerry has a passion for renewables and also the energy efficiently of dome structures. He was a key influencer for the Grand Meadow School District dome structures. Prior to Solar Connection, Jerry was an employee with the US Postal Service for over 25 years! Jerry resides in Spring Valley with his family.
Pete Jilk, Solar Outreach
Pete is no stranger to Solar Connection—he has been a customer of ours since 2013! You’ll find Pete conducting solar education in SE Minnesota communities. Be sure to ask him about his own 8.64 kW system pictured above!
Eric Theuer, Accounting & Finance
Eric holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Northern Texas. He has six years’ experience as a full charge bookkeeper and two years as a Financial Analyst at IBM.
At Solar Connection, Eric is responsible for all financial aspects for the organization. He is originally from Kasson, MN and resides in Rochester with his wife and young daughters.
Rachael Howe, Office Manager
Rachael has a B.A. in Marketing and Economics from Augsburg College. She has over 20 years of marketing, customer management, and leadership experience – most with Fortune 500 companies including TCF Bank and Thrivent Financial. As Assistant Vice President of direct marketing, Rachael was responsible for direct marketing efforts for deposit products. At Thrivent Financial, she managed the marketing and fraternal programs and team for California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico. Her background also includes experience in employee management, database marketing, and market research.
At Solar Connection, she is responsible for marketing and company visibility, office operations, IT functions and Human Resource functions. Rachael resides in Rochester with her family.
Official title: Office manager, Head of IT, HR, Resource Management Specialist
Solar matters because: It’s the future. There are too many reasons to go solar; it will only keep growing.
Stomping grounds: Rochester, Morristown, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Phoenix.
You’d never know it, but I: Have been to 63 countries.