Don’t look for Stephanie Holloran under the neon lights of Broadway. She’s more likely to be looking up at the floodlights on the Little League fields in Martin County or in her office studying a parking lot illumination pattern.
As the national sales manager for family-owned SEPCO (Solar Electric Power Company) in Stuart, Holloran is a powerful advocate for solar energy on a global level, while enjoying the quiet lifestyle of the Treasure Coast.
“I’ve always liked the small town feeling of Stuart,” said Holloran, 35. “It’s a great place to work and raise a family.”
Passion for solar energy
Educated locally, Holloron graduated from Martin County High School, studied at Indian River Community College (now Indian River State College), and then earned an undergraduate degree in psychology at Florida Atlantic University and a master’s degree in social work from Barry University. She enjoyed being a therapist, but when she had her own children ? J.P., who’s now 7, and Ella, age 5 ? she decided to join the family business.
“I didn’t think I’d like sitting behind a desk, but I found a real passion for solar energy,” Holloran said. “I really feel like I’m helping people find the right technology solutions to their problems, and helping the environment as well.”
First solar-powered streetlights
In her sales role, Holloran is bringing solar power to the nation from the company her parents, Steve and Susan Robbins, founded 20 years ago. “”My dad had invented and patented one of the first solar-powered designs for streetlights and advertising billboards,” she said. After launching the company in Palm City in 1994, Robbins relocated SEPCO to a Stuart facility in the mid-1990s. The company moved recently to a 20,000-square-foot office-warehouse building off U.S. 1.
Great for rural uses
“When SEPCO started, the solar industry was geared to rural areas and third-world countries, where it was too expensive to extend the electrical grid,” Holloran said. “Then, the outdoor advertising industry realized solar was ideal for billboards in rural areas.”
Global customer base
Through the years, SEPCO has built a national and international customer base that also includes municipal governments seeking environmentally friendly lighting systems, the U.S. military, which wanted lighting from secure off-the-grid sources for its bases, and the U.S. National Park Service, which needed to illuminate wilderness areas for visitors and staffers.
As the nation’s outdoor lighting industry transitions from traditional fluorescent lights to more efficient LED (light-emitting diode) systems, solar power has become more feasible and attractive for commercial and industrial uses, according to Holloran.
“We have a growing range of solar opportunities in roadways, parking lots, signs and transit areas, to name just a few markets,” she said.
Today, SEPCO’s solar systems are sold worldwide in markets like Dubai, Mexico, Canada, Caribbean and Africa. “We sell directly to contractors and other customers as well, since solar systems need to be designed and installed properly,” Holloran said.
The 15-employee company is still led by Halloran’s father, while her mother is chief financial officer and sister, Katy Robb, is an administrative assistant. “We work well together, and we have seen steady, sustainable growth in the past few years,” Holloran said. “We certainly believe our future is bright.”