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Made in Michiana: Inovateus Solar

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- When you think of renewable energy technology -- South Bend probably isn't the first place that comes to mind, but tucked away on Stateline Road on the city's far north side is Inovateus Solar.

"We supply materials, we do engineering, design, basically we will build and deliver a full solar energy system," said President and CEO T.J. Kanczuzewski.

Kanczuzewski's father started the company in 2005 as a research and development hub when then President George W. Bush began pushing for more renewable energy sources.

In 2008, T.J. branched off focusing strictly on solar.

"We first started most of the installations were residential and pretty small solar energy installations," said Kanczuzewski.

Since then the business has grown and so have the projects. The company has built systems for major retailers like Ikea, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium and many utility companies across the country.

"It's interesting just looking back nine years ago at the size of systems we were building and it's just leaps and bounds different today," said Kanczuzewski.

The same can be said about the company itself. Walking through the halls of inovateus feels a lot more like a company you'd find in silicon valley.

"The way we setup the office we call it the river of integration and we actually strategically place people in offices where we know they will have interaction with other parts of the company," said Kanczuzewski.

"I feel like we like to call ourselves like a small Google where we're all just interacting with each other all the time," said CFO Lindsey Foley. "It's just really cool to see everybody working together as a team."

Foley was born and raised in South Bend. She joined the Inovateus team four years ago.

She says she never dreamed she would work for a company like this in the area where she grew up.

"I think it's just such an innovative company," said Foley. "You don't see a lot of companies like ours."

The company credits that to its core values.

"Our core values at Inovateus Solar -- the acronym for it is P.E.A.C.E. It stands for Passion, Engagement, Ambition, Creativity, and Esprit de corps (Spirit of the team)," said Kanczuzewski.

Those core values helped take him all the way to the White House -- where last year he met with then President Obama to talk about renewable energy in the Midwest.

He believes those values are what's going to take the company into its next chapter as the industry moves into energy storage.

"Battery technology will continue to improve and people are going to start going off the grid and not always get their energy from the utilities the way they do today," said Kanczuzewski. "We've also been continuing to buy up property around our office and just plan for future expansion."

A move to guarantee as the industry advances the renewable energy systems of tomorrow are still designed and Made in Michiana.

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