December 15, 2022 E-news: Interview with Ipsun Solar CEO Herve Billiet + Weekly Business News Digest

Fairfax County solar company aims to fight climate change

Merrifield-based Ipsun Solar, a company that installs residential and commercial solar panels, was started in 2016 with a lofty goal: fighting climate change, said Herve Billiet, CEO, who co-founded the company along with Joe Marhamati. FCEDA sat down with Billiet for an interview to learn more.

“The core mission is installing as many solar panels as we can to fight climate change,” said Billiet. “We’ve grown from just two people to now 60 people — and we keep growing,” Billet added. “There’s a lot of demand for it.”

The company’s name ‘Ipsun Solar’ was derived from the Latin word “ipsum” with the last letter changed to an “n,” Billiet explained. “So, we have ‘sun’ in our name, but ‘ipsum’ means ‘yourself.’ So, the idea is to generate your own power, your own clean power from the sun.”

Ipsun Solar installs solar panels in an approximate 60-mile radius of Fairfax County in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. And Fairfax County is a great place to base its operations, according to Billiet.

“Fairfax County is a great location for us because we want to stay local. We have our kids going to school here. We have friends and family located here. So, we want to have a business that stays here,” Billiet said. “Our customers also, when you look at a map, are all surrounded by our warehouse [in Merrifield]. It’s nearly 60 miles around — nearly a perfect circle. And we want to stay local and serve our customers so that we are quickly able to reach them because we are located close to the Beltway.”

Click here to read the entire interview and view an accompanying video interview.

News Digest

Tech hiring bonanza: Six Fairfax County-based companies are among the 20 companies based throughout the nation that are presently “hiring a ton of tech workers,” according to Business InsiderNorthrop Grumman (Falls Church area); Booz Allen Hamilton (McLean); Leidos (Reston); General Dynamics (Reston); CACI (Reston); and ManTech International (Herndon). Scott Dobroski, a career expert at Indeed, told Insider that the career site decided to create this list of companies because of Indeed’s mission “to help people get jobs.” Job titles in the search include over 570 different terms related to job titles in the tech sector, including data scientist, IT technician, web developer, software engineer, computer scientist and more. “In the tech industry in particular, there have been a number of layoffs that affect workers all around the United States,” Dobroski said. “And so to help people get jobs, we really wanted to identify 20 companies that are seeing growth in tech jobs over the past two weeks to help tech workers know where they may have some great options in terms of getting hired.”

Continuing cloud capabilities: Microsoft Federal President Rick Wagner said the company will continue to develop cloud capabilities and strategic partnerships to meet the Department of Defense’s joint warfighting needs and allow the military to establish an enterprise-level tactical cloud environment, reported ExecutiveBiz. Wagner wrote in a blog post that Microsoft’s work on the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability program will build on its current and future cloud technologies and services as well as existing collaborations with the department and the service branches. “We continue to develop new technologies that utilize the latest commercial innovations, enable interoperability and are designed to bring data analysis and insight to the tactical edge,” Wagner noted.

Major expansion: United Airlines Group announced Thursday an order for 100 new Boeing 787 aircraft, with the option to buy 100 more — a major expansion that will spur significant hiring at its Washington Dulles International Airport hub as soon as next year, reported the Washington Business Journal. The Chicago-headquartered airline currently employs more than 6,000 workers at Dulles, and in the last year it’s made big moves there — new flights, new jobs, a new high-end lounge — as it continues its pandemic recovery. With this new aircraft order, United plans to hire 1,100 more personnel at Dulles in 2023, spanning every role “above the wing” and below, as well as pilots, flight attendants and maintenance workers, said United spokesman Pat Mullane.

Sustainability-focused grants: Herndon-based Amazon Web Services launched a new community grant program for sustainability-focused individuals, nonprofits, schools, community groups and more, technical.ly reported. The AWS In Communities Sustainability Fund has $300,000 available to entities in Fairfax County, Prince William, Loudoun, Culpeper and Fauquier counties. The fund will be managed by ChangeX. AWS hopes to provide grants to 30 projects in Northern Virginia. Grants up to $10,000 are available for new or existing community projects themed around sustainability and environmental stewardship. Applications are open now through Feb. 13, and applicants will be scored by positive community impact and funding criteria. If selected, they will complete a 30-day challenge for their idea.

Key lessons learned: Herndon-based Peraton Chief Growth Officer Mike King was recently interviewed in a Q&A in Washington Business Journal.  After 16 years at Northrop Grumman, King joined the company that ultimately became Peraton in 2018. According to the Washington Business Journal research, King has been instrumental in driving growth for Peraton, helping it morph into a $7.2 billion company with more than 17,000 employees, now the region’s fourth-largest privately held company. Asked about the key lessons that he has learned from his years in the defense industry, King replied: “It’s still about the relationships that you build and the way that you conduct yourself and execute in your daily operations. We all have to bring value. So that there’s usability to what we’re doing, so that fundamentally doesn’t change.”

Serving veterans: The nonprofit Serve Our Willing Warriors broke ground on its third house at the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run in Haymarket on Dec. 2, InsideNoVa reported. The newest home, PenFed Grand Lodge, will increase the retreat’s capacity by 33 percent and include a 2,000-square-foot multi-purpose room that will be used to host programs for service members and their families. The retreat offers free getaways from hospital environments so recovering service members and their families can relax and spend quality time together at a temporary “home-away-from-home.” Tysons-based PenFed Credit Union and PenFedFoundation donated $500,000 for the Grand Lodge construction.

New name: Reston-based SES Government Solutions (SES GS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of SES, announced that it is now operating under the new name SES Space & Defense. The name change comes after combining SES Government Solutions with the recently acquired DRS Global Enterprise Solutions (DRS GES). The SES Space & Defense brand reflects the organization’s new positioning and expanded offering serving the needs of the U.S. Government customers, reported Intelligence Community News. “This is a major milestone for us, and more importantly for our U.S. DoD customers,” said SES Space & Defense President and CEO David Fields. “In August we consolidated two best-in-class organizations focused on the U.S. Government satellite communications needs, and we remain fully committed to providing innovative world-class space solutions to our most tactical customers. With SES Space & Defense as our new name, we would like our strategic vision and focus to come through brightly.”

Strategic Alliance: Redwood City, CA-based C3 AI and Tysons-based Booz Allen Hamilton announced a new alliance to help federal clients solve their most complex problems using enterprise AI. The strategic alliance leverages Booz Allen’s industry position as the largest provider of AI services for the federal government with a focus on mission-ready AI solutions and C3 AI’s industry-leading AI applications that accelerate digital transformation, including those with a focus on mission readiness, supply chain logistics, and intelligence analysis.  Intelligence Community News has more.

Seed round: Tysons-based FireTail, which is developing software meant to secure the communication between multiple devices and systems, raised $5 million in an early-stage seed round, DC Inno reported. The round was led by D.C.’s Paladin Capital Group, with participation from San Jose, California-based cloud security SaaS company Zscaler, New York investment firm General Advance, San Francisco investment firm Secure Octane, and cybersecurity executive angel investors including Ely Kahn of SentinelOne and Mark Arena of Intel 471.

Affordable housing support: Fairfax County has now committed $45 million of the COVID-19 relief funds it received from the federal government to support affordable housing projects, FFXnow reported. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the latest allocation of $15 million at its meeting on Dec. 6, and more could be on the way next year, if the board opts to dip into a reserve fund to further its goal of creating 10,000 more affordable units by 2034. “While we’ve been through and used a lot of these funds for emergency purposes, part of recovery is a recognition of the need for affordable housing and how lack of affordable housing played a role sadly and unfortunately in the health outcomes of people who could not find safe and effective affordable housing,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay said. “So, I’m happy that we’re able to use this…to help keep up the momentum that we have in producing that goal of 10,000 affordable units.”

New location: Freedom Bank of Virginia received regulatory approval from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and Bureau of Financial Institutions – State Corporation Commission to relocate its current branch at 4500 Daly Drive, Suite 240, Chantilly, to establish a new branch at 4090 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite B in Chantilly, citybiz reported. “We are delighted to open our new Chantilly location in this important community where we are well-established and there are so many thriving businesses and entrepreneurs that align with our value proposition,” said Joe Thomas, President and CEO.

Bunnyman hopping to Lorton: Fairfax-based Bunnyman Brewing received the official go-ahead from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 6 to take over a nearly 4,700-square-foot space at the county-owned Workhouse Arts Campus in Lorton. This will be the brewery’s second location and is expected to open by fall 2023, co-owner Sam Gray told FFXnow. “The addition of an on-site food and beverage retailer is expected to assist with placemaking and support the vibrant arts and cultural programming and education that [the Workhouse Arts Foundation] provides throughout the site,” according to the staff report.

Contract Wins

CACI International (Reston) and a subsidiary of Peraton (Herndon) won parallel contracts each valued at more than $2.2 billion to perform background investigations for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. Virginia Business

Science Applications International Corp. (Reston) received a five-year, $349.5 million contract from the U.S. Navy to engineer the branch’s afloat and ashore tactical networks. GovConWire

ICF (Fairfax) obtained a $25 million award from Air Force Central Command to help manage environmental compliance efforts at domestic base sites and installations in the Middle East. ExecutiveBiz

Northrop Grumman (Falls Church area) received an $8.8 million contract from the US Air Force Research Laboratory to boost its hypersonic manufacturing capacity and affordability. Airforce Technology

FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

January 10 — Entrepreneurship 101: Starting A Business in Fairfax County. Join our panel of small business experts for an in-person event at our Tysons HQ on how to start your business. We will provide you with informative step-by-step information sessions that will cover registering your business, permitting requirements, business feasibility and business plan basics, business certifications, financing options and government resources. Presented by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), in partnership with the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), the Community Business Partnership (CBP), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives (DEI). Our featured guest speaker will be Ashley Chen, Founder/CEO of ActioNet. Click here to register.

FCEDA is Here to Help Your Business Thrive

Fairfax County EDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at info@fceda.org, or call 703-790-0600 to leave a voice message for our staff. And click here for resources available in the other nine jurisdictions that make up the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance.