July 18, 2023
Nick Planson has spent years honing his knowledge and skills in both the clean energy world as well as the innovative business world and has now forged ahead in combining them all into his new company, Shred Electric. He combines a desire to provide the working waterfronts of Maine with a cleaner and more reliable option for their boats, along with ensuring that the recreational vehicle industry also has the same access to clean and reliable electric motors as well. Today, Shred Electric resides in New Gloucester, Maine and provides many different individuals with high-quality products that reduce their environmental impact and increase their efficiency.
How Shred Came to Shine: Nick’s Backstory
I grew up in Maine then went away to college in New York City to study engineering management at Columbia. I got into clean tech with a startup for 5 or 6 years in the energy efficiency and demand response space. Then I worked for the primary utility of Con Edison in their development business building solar farms and wind farms across the country and building up the team to operate what ended up being the 2nd largest portfolio of renewables in North America.
I left there to move back to Maine about 6 or 7 years ago to join our family business, which sells equipment to the United Nations and nonprofits worldwide. I left that 2 or 3 years ago after leading the sales organization there and now am really involved in the marine space.
My brother-in-law, Chad Strader, has been working in marine construction for several decades and we came together to get involved in still marine construction, but also workboats. We’re dealers for several electric boat motors and help support aquaculture in a lot of different ways, particularly with operating more efficiently and cleanly.
The Summary of Shred: What does Shred do
We are helping different industries convert from gas powered generators to electric alternatives, batteries combined with renewables, and we’re also developing a suite of off-road vehicles that all share the same battery so that customers can own one battery that they move from our snowmobile to our boat motor to our UTV.
What we’ve designed there (a 12-foot aluminum john boat that Nick) bought and painted it Shred Electric orange and black) is a prototype surface drive electric boat motor. And the battery that you can just barely see on the corner there, that is the battery that we’ve taken off of our electric snow bike. The snow bike is essentially an electric snowmobile, but just has one ski on the front. By this winter, we’ll also have a two-ski version.
But this is a prototype primarily to test out surface drive motors in Maine, which can operate in about two or three inches of water, and if you hit something, they bounce over it rather than falling apart. And secondarily, to test out this concept of a swappable battery, where I own one of our snow bikes, and it came with our battery, and now we have one motor, and we have another motor next door of a more traditional shape that operates off that exact same battery. And we literally took it off the snow bike and put it in the boat and tested it out at our boatyard.
In three to five years, we’ll have a suite of aquaculture power equipment for the farms. We’ll also have electric boat motors that may be our own, they may be other’s products who we’re dealers for that are super useful for the boats when they’re actually on the farms. We’ll see where pricing gets on the larger motors that would actually help the boats get a longer distance from shore to the farms.
And then in the recreational space, I anticipate we will have our electric snowmobile in full testing this winter available for sale by next winter. And then each year we’ll come out with 1 new vehicle or other motor that the same battery will power.
An Electric Partnership: How CEI fits into Shred’s Story
I Worked with CEI early on to acquire a boatyard in Yarmouth, Maine as a nonprofit. They were able to find a USDA back loan that could help us acquire that and preserve it as a working waterfront rather than have it turn into residential fancy homes.
And based on that introduction, I then learned that CEI did a lot of other things, and I also got introduced to Maine SBDC. through Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, also Maine Technology Institute has been a great supporter, and there’s just this great community of entrepreneurial support in Maine. To have somebody like CEI, not just on the financing side, but also on the kind of a net financial analysis side and the support for helping us entrepreneurs think through things has been essential.
As an entrepreneur, you have a lot of things swirling around in your brain and you’re trying to come up with what is going to be profitable and sustainable, but CEI was super helpful with Shred Electric, but also with prior things we were thinking about getting into was helping us get the numbers down on a spreadsheet and see how things really look based on your staffing or your investment in property or tools or equipment. What those factors really turn into financially and how far out you would be before you become profitable, or if you need to have other lines of business or understanding how other businesses that you’re kind of similar to make their money. And that helped us quickly determine things that we didn’t want to do and which things we should certainly be investing our time and resources in. And which other things are too soon to tell, so we should kind of cautiously proceed with them, and maybe those will also take off.
Where Did The Spark Come From: What motivated Nick to pursue this work
I was fortunate enough to do a day of backcountry snowmobiling in British Columbia. And of course, it was an absolute blast, but it was so loud and so many clouds of smoke coming out of those machines that I had that cognitive dissonance of really loving being out there in the fresh powder, in the mountains knowing that that very pollution that is being caused by those machines is reducing how much snow there will be in the future. So that’s part of it. \
And trying to find a solution where you’re not selling these products based on their environmental attributes. Rather we’re selling them because they rip, they shred, and they require almost no maintenance. You don’t have to worry about gas or oil with the snow bike or with the boat, you go out and use it. Come home, plug it in and it’s ready to go the next time. So it is about having fun out there or doing our work out there and not feeling guilty about the machines that we’re using to help us do that.
Learn more about Shred Electric:
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