Bentek – Advanced Power is Here to Stay

Solar energy has always been a “hot” discussion topic. Recent estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that utility-scale solar generation capacity will grow at a faster pace any other form of energy source. Fortunately, in Silicon Valley, many industry leaders have long recognized this and ha
ve chosen to put down roots here to continue to focus on their passion for advanced energy. One of them is Mitch Schoch, President and CEO of Bentek. Earlier this month I had the pleasure of visiting Bentek’s new facility in San Jose on Senter Road and talking with Mr. Schoch about the company and his secret sauce for staying on top in the clean energy sector.

One of the first things you notice about Mr. Schoch is his warm smile and easy mannerisms. But behind that calm and charismatic smile, lies a strategic visionary, who has led the company to new heights. “We’re the low-tech of high-tech”, he says about the company. Bentek makes innovative and high-value products for the solar PV (photovoltaic) industry and provides world-class design and manufacturing services for industrial markets. Manufacturing combiners, recombiners, safety systems, cables, harnesses, and accessories for a wide variety of photovoltaic projects, Bentek boasts 40%-50% of the U.S. market share for these areas.

Established in 1985 in San Jose, Bentek started as a comprehensive design, manufacturing, and logistics services company for the semiconductor equipment industry, and expanded into the solar energy world in 2009. Today, Bentek is a recognized leader in power distribution solutions. Bentek sets itself apart from competitors by having a clear Quality Policy that the company lives by – high quality, high service, high mix or customization based on their clients’ needs. This unrelenting focus on delivering the best products and service has resulted in strong business results. The company recently announced that they surpassed 10 million feet in new orders for its Circuit Parallel Cable Harness.

Although the solar energy industry is here to stay and thrive, it has seen its ups and downs like any other industry.  In 2015 there was a rush of customers looking to take advantage of the Federal solar credit before it expired. However, with very little notice, the deadline to apply for the credit was extended, projects were deferred, and business simmered down. This left many solar supply companies with inventory they couldn’t immediately sell through.

While touring Bentek with Mr. Schoch, I asked him what he loves most and foresees for the industry.

“I like being on the forefront of a growing industry and adding value for our customers.  I also enjoy doing this here in San Jose and leveraging the considerable skills and resources the community provides. The future of the solar industry is quite positive.  It will continue to see advances and setbacks, as any new technology does, but the long term outlook is quite positive in terms of the competitive value of the technology and its deployment as a source of energy for businesses and consumers.  The Valley will continue to be a source of innovation and development for solar industry solutions.  The challenge we will face locally will be the ability to manufacture these new technologies that is competitive at a world class level.  We have faced serious challenges with PV solar panel production but new technologies and new manufacturing processes may tilt this back in our favor in the future.”
Bentek continues to experience prolific growth. They recently expanded to a 130,000 square feet building on Senter Road, in addition to their existing 50,000 square feet solar facility on Lundy Avenue in San Jose. The company is growing so fast in fact, that in addition to their existing 170 team members, they are looking to hire 60 additional people in the next 30 days.

Work2future is helping with Bentek’s hiring needs through summer internship and training programs. As Mr. Schoch puts it, “the second worst problem in business is too much business.” Now that is a good problem to have, and San Jose is fortunate to have Bentek.

About The Author:
Tina Kapoor is the Economic Development Officer at SJeconomy and wrote this blog on Bentek. You can connect with Tina on Twitter or via email.