Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
What can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities are worthwhile of financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can potential partners work with you?
We are also constantly willing to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in communities that traditionally havent had access. Im always difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I think that has real worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to meet the other Accelerate member business. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and discovering people with totally different viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, and that ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big distinction.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the 3rd installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment includes market leaders and subjects connected to speeding up an equitable and simply transition to a renewable resource economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are thriving in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his knowledge and track record of creating constant returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting change neighborhoods and their influence on the world. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas transition 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 begin your business?
I had two essential minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas expense, and she was just making ten bucks an hour, so we could not manage the gas expense. Therefore, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat shut off. For roughly a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and carry it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively difficult times, and experiences like that simply stick with you. I dont care what happens the rest of your profession or what your lifestyle is progressing; those minutes are with you forever. As I discuss that with various groups around the nation, it has become clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A lot of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
The second critical minute was most likely 15 years back, as I was working for a firm that was buying a host of things around the world. People were can be found in to ask for an investment around renewable resource, and I positioned a question to them: “What you are doing with these solar companies is incredible, and the expense of solar is coming down, but how does that help everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their gain access to? They are paying an out of proportion quantity of their income on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even attempt inquire about the daily individuals. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income families typically live in multi-family buildings, and it is hard to get in contact with those building owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you have to get in touch with specific households and the expense of getting those people informed and after that subscribing to renewable energy is not a beneficial business model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to alter the marketplace permanently. So I stopped my job. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my company. Because that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up, I called it 548 Capital. So whatever is I do is targeted to families in those scenarios and focused on improving their quality of life
Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be constructing a $30 million, totally sustainable and totally cost effective advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 domestic units, a coffee bar, a company center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
When individuals discover who is behind our business, I think there is always a shock. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it. To me, thats quite rewarding. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is very important is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a pretty powerful message. Were intending to cut energy costs for households in half. Thats a big offer, you know. That quantity of cash effects the spending plan of daily households
What challenges do you face? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a service, any business, was going to be challenging. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly difficult. When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. Some banks dont want to invest; they dont desire to partner; they dont wish to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im trying to combat here, and weve made really small, incremental progress. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is very important. My voice only means a lot, but the more I can bring friends to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement
Tell us about your business? (objective, partners, areas you operate in, main customers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everybody ought to have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everyone.
I think there is always a shock when individuals learn who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it. Putting people in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are also always willing to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host individuals when a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access.