Successful Alumnus Hires COD Graduates at his Energy Company
As an entrepreneur, Vincent Battaglia had always heard that the most difficult challenge for businesses in the Coachella Valley was that there was no place to find career-minded individuals in their 20s and 30s to be a part of a growing company.
But Vincent started to notice, during the downturn in real estate in the late 1990s, that College of the Desert was offering programs promoting not just entrepreneurism but also solid technical skills and training in careers that mirrored the way the Coachella Valley was growing.
As he was making plans to go back to school, he decided to enroll in math classes and an accounting course at COD to hone his skills.
He went on to develop the business plan for Renova Energy Corporation as part of his master’s thesis and then launched the company in 2006.
As he was trying to catch his footing, the business was growing and he needed workers, the bulletin boards at College of the Desert became his closest ally. He literally stalked the bulletin boards at COD every day, combing the note cards pinned on the board by students looking for work.
Those bulletin boards provided essential support for Renova during critical growth periods. Vincent recounts how he could bring in someone that he found on the bulletin board at COD and know exactly what career path they were on -- engineering, technical, sales or administrative. He would pull off the little index card, note the student’s area of academic study and career path, give them a phone call, discuss current job openings and more often than not put them to work. It was that simple.
“I gradually grew the company from that simple job board at COD to a $40 million company with more than 160 employees,” Vincent says.
As the renewable energy industry grew, College of the Desert established a center for workforce and career pathway development in energy and sustainability to meet the local needs. Vincent worked “hand-in-hand” with Larry McLaughlin, the Director of the Energy Center at COD, to develop a 60-hour training class, preparing solar trainees for their accreditation test. And then he put them to work.
As Renova has grown to a mid-sized company, its partnership with the college has continued to grow as well. They continue to offer tours of their campus and installations, working with COD professors to bring classes and students to see the number and variety of career opportunities available in the rapidly growing solar and battery storage industry. Summer internship opportunities are also made available to COD students, a great way to open the door to a career in the renewable energy industry. Currently, Renova boasts an estimated 120 staff members who are COD alumni.
“College of the Desert has become our solar university,” Vincent says. “You could say, we are COD.”