Solar energy interest turns into business for Creswell

Solar energy interest turns into business for Creswell

Sometimes it turns out better when plans don’t work out.

Just ask Travis Creswell, former Crowder College student and now owner of Ozark Energy Services in Joplin. On Thursday, Creswell was awarded the Crowder MARET Center Energy Excellence Award during an ”Energy, Environment and Emergency” conference at the college.

The award singles out businesses that ”demonstrate an outstanding effort in instituting, utilizing or providing energy efficiency or energy efficient products or services.”

It might as well be the motto of Ozark Energy Services.

Creswell always wanted to be an engineer – or so he thought. But while a pre-engineering student at Crowder, he found himself spending weekends tinkering around with 20-year-old solar powered water heaters. For some time Creswell had been interested in solar energy anyway, he said, beginning in high school when the solar rush was beginning to speed up in popularity nationwide. That interest had only intensified when, while in the Navy, he followed Crowder’s development of the first solar car to successfully travel from coast to coast.

Years later, discovering his true love was renewable energy, Creswell temporarily put aside his plans to be an engineer and created Ozark Energy Systems. Since the business was truly a pioneer at that time as a supplier and installer of solar energy products in the local area, it wasn’t until a few years later that it really kicked off, especially after Creswell began offering energy-efficient commercial and industrial lighting.

That end of the business was actually born following a contact by Empire District Electric who asked Creswell if he would help the company build a lighting efficiency program.

”Not because I knew a lot about lighting but because I had interacted with them on some solar stuff and I had perhaps impressed upon them that I was somebody who could perhaps do this,” he related.

As part of his contract with Empire, Creswell was sent to schools all over the country to learn about lighting. And when he and Empire finally parted ways, Creswell was left with a wealth of knowledge he would use to his advantage.

Today, he still sells and installs alternative energy products such as complete solar electric systems, radiant in-floor heating systems, solar hot water systems and solar powered water pumps to name but a few. Almost all of his lighting customers include schools, professional offices and grocery and retail stores, as well as industries. Most of this has to do with designing lighting systems that meet individual needs for the most efficient cost over the long haul.

He also supplies much bigger – and more expensive toys – such as wind turbine systems. To this date, Ozark Energy Services is responsible for the largest such system ever installed in the state of Missouri.

”We do anything energy related,” Creswell said. ”This includes energy conservation and renewable energy production, so this means solar panels and wind turbines and new lighting systems to reduce energy. You see, solar panels and wind turbines don’t save energy – a lot of people think they do – they reduce energy. So we started off really as doing renewable energy, solar panels and wind turbines, but we discovered we really got good at producing energy. Because in general terms for every one dollar you spend on conservation, when you’re trying to do solar, you reduce the cost of your system by four dollars.

”So it might make sense to spend $2,000 on a refrigerator when you can save $8,000 using solar panels,” he continued. ”So that kind of led to the commercial lighting where we learned about ways to do different things with lighting. We were way ahead of what other people were doing – and we’re still here doing it.”

While Creswell never did get the engineering degree he once longed and strove for, he said he has no regrets.

”It became apparent to me that I would never be able to work for anyone else,” he stated. ”Once you’re self-employed, your mind-set definitely won’t allow for it.”

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