Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the 3rd installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation includes market leaders and topics connected to speeding up a fair and simply transition to an eco-friendly energy economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are thriving in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his expertise and track record of creating constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping change communities and their effect on the world. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his impact on Americas shift to a tidy economy.
FOUND OUT MORE: Up-and-Comer Developer Makes Headway without the Banks ( Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2021).
What inspired you to start your business?
I had two essential moments that made me jump. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas costs, and she was only making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas bill. Therefore, sadly, we had our gas and heat turned off. For around a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and bring it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively bumpy rides, and experiences like that just stick to you. I do not care what occurs the rest of your profession or what your quality of life is moving on; those minutes are with you permanently. As I speak about that with various groups around the nation, it has actually become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
They looked puzzled that I would even attempt ask about the everyday individuals. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my business. I named it 548 Capital because that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up.

I believe there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant believe it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. We are also always willing to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that traditionally havent had gain access to.

So what can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in spaces together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities are worthy of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can prospective partners do business with you?
We are also constantly ready to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access. Im constantly challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I believe that has genuine value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been excellent simply to meet the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about people with absolutely different viewpoints. I love the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, which ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big distinction.

Tell us about your company? (objective, partners, areas you run in, main clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all communities, all families, everyone needs to have access. Someone, some entity, has to function as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody. Thats what my objective is, and luckily we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be announcing some new areas this fall

Show us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, completely sustainable and entirely affordable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential systems, a cafe, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
I believe there is always a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant think it. To me, thats quite rewarding. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is essential is we have an economic impact that resonates with people, and its a pretty powerful message. Were intending to cut energy expenditures for households in half. Thats a huge deal, you understand. That amount of cash impacts the budget plan of everyday families
What obstacles do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were constructing sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These communities are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that union structure is crucial.