Astrum Solar Reviews

Updated March 31, 2015
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Vadim Polikov
11 Ratings

20 Employee Reviews

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  1. Early-stage solar success story matures with the acquisition by the largest energy services company in North America.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Talent Acquisition in Annapolis Junction, MD
    Current Employee - Talent Acquisition in Annapolis Junction, MD

    I have been working at Astrum Solar full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Vast opportunities, high growth, excellent benefits, passionate colleagues, and the backing of a rock-solid balance sheet of the parent company: Direct Energy.

    Cons

    There have been some hiccups during the integration with the parent company: Direct Energy, as might be expected during an accelerated integration process, but it's rapidly improving.

    Advice to Management

    Keep nurturing your human capital, delighting your customers, and the good things will continue to follow.


  2. Worst job I've ever had. Not even close.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Astrum Solar

    Doesn't Recommend
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    I made a good friend.

    Cons

    Paid late multiple times. Still owed money. Overworked and severely underpaid. Management very dysfunctional and doesn't treat their employees with respect.

    Astrum Solar Response

    Mar 25, 2015Social Manager

    We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced with payroll. We value all our Astrum team members, both past and present and are committed to making sure everyone is compensated for ... More


  3. Be careful.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - OUTSIDE SALES
    Current Employee - OUTSIDE SALES

    I have been working at Astrum Solar full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Working in an industry to help save consumers money, and break up the monopolies of private utility companies (and public) is a great feeling.

    Cons

    Management is young and inexperienced. Company focus is on sales, sales, sales, which makes sense of course, but this is the overriding factor. The customer comes second. The sales staff comes last. I find upper management a bit disingenuous unfortunately. I would consider this company to only be a stepping stone to another, better run company.

    Advice to Management

    If this company wants to stay in this for the long run it must understand that the strongest resource a company is good employees. Hire older managers with long term experience for the future.

    Astrum Solar Response

    Mar 24, 2015Social Manager

    We appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion and experience with us. We value all of our employees and want to provide the best environment possible for growth and success. Our HR team and ... More


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  5. Helpful (2)

    Passionate firm, yet disconnected HQ

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Annapolis Junction, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Annapolis Junction, MD

    I have been working at Astrum Solar full-time (Less than a year)

    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    There us a lot of growth forecast for Astrum, which is awesome if you are in the company and going to get some new benefits that didn't exist before. Working now under Direct Energy brings a lot of resources and enthusiasm to the business outlook. I work at the Astrum Corporate office in Annapolis Junction, which means everyone has a cube and nice computer to do your work, local IT support is usually on their game, and most of the managers and directors are close if you have any questions. Haven't had much chance to explore new opportunities, and the training is pretty one on one or in small groups since not too many people in each department at solar headquarters.

    Cons

    I can't describe the heachache that is the current HR and Payroll situation after being acquired by DE. Everyone was switched to a new payroll company and it kind of feels like NO ONE did any kind of testing before making the switch to make sure things would work. I didnt get paid on time, when I was paid it was the wrong amount, and when you ask for help the answer is "Call the Helpdesk"... which is an outside payroll firm that then gives you a case number and MIGHT call you back in 5 days. The website to check your paystub was sent out to everyone, only to find out no one could access it. So far the answer has been that were "Getting familiar" with the outside company and them to us... meanwhile no one in DE Corporate seems to be making this a priority. Its a hot and cold situation with DE uppers: "Were excited about solar!!... Sorry to hear about the payroll...you should tough it out and eventually things will be fixed." You know what can't tough it out? My bills.

    Advice to Management

    FIX THE PAYROLL situation. Fire whoever set this up. Hire someone to make it better. Quit waiting for it to just work by itself. If you have no control over this...then you won't keep your people very long. There are other solar companies that need qualified people and pay on time.


  6. Helpful (1)

    Great Working Environment. Always striving for perfection

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sales
    Current Employee - Sales

    I have been working at Astrum Solar full-time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The philosophy of the company is customer satisfaction is priority 1. The majority of senior management practice this philosophy. Everyone works together to create a almost seamless experience for the customer

    Cons

    Although the products offered are competitive and top quality, there needs to be the ability to adapt and change to the ever so often changing environment at a quicker pace. There are a few senior managers that need to understand the reality of the customer experience.

    Advice to Management

    See above


  7. I love the atmosphere of this company - everyone seems to be environmentally minded.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Maryland in Annapolis Junction, MD
    Current Employee - Maryland in Annapolis Junction, MD

    I have been working at Astrum Solar full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great place to work, great environment and people and mindsets.

    Cons

    This are changing to a more corporate atmosphere and there have been lots of small issues.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up with the growth. There are a lot of things that need/will need work through this transition.


  8. Helpful (1)

    Complete failure to pay people in time!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Annapolis Junction, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Annapolis Junction, MD

    I have been working at Astrum Solar full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    I like the people I work with. Great Manager who is open and honest.

    Cons

    Compensation is already below market, and now, paychecks have become completely unreliable. Still haven't gotten paid, and it's been over 5 days since payday. What's worse: my manager has no idea how to help me. My manager cares, but he doesn't know anything about what's going on either. And there's no HR to go to.
    It seems that no one in Senior management is doing anything to help ensure that employees are being taken care of.

    Advice to Management

    You have to treat employees better or they'll leave. I'm not going to keep working for a company that obviously doesn't value employees. I like my manager, but that's not enough reason to stay.

    Astrum Solar Response

    Jan 15, 2015Social Manager

    We apologize for any inconvenience a team member has with payroll. As of January 1, 2015 we transferred to a new payroll system and are currently working through the transition. We are quickly ... More


  9. Helpful (3)

    What is the secret sauce?

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Systems Design Specialist in Hopkinton, MA
    Former Employee - Systems Design Specialist in Hopkinton, MA

    I worked at Astrum Solar full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    People were very relaxed and easy to get along with. Everyone was a phone call or email away if I ever had any questions, unless they elect not to respond after 5:00 p.m.

    System Design Specialist (surveyor) is a good entry-level position for people with little or no solar background.

    Surveyors do get promoted eventually. I recall seeing two of my coworkers getting promoted to different roles within the company: one became a sales consultant after 3 years as a System Design Specialist and the other became a Solar Engineer I after 2 years.

    The Regional Sales Manager in MA goes way out of his way to encourage surveyors and create a better environment for them. Senior Manager of System Designs told me no when I asked if I could attend a solar conference; Regional Sales Manager of MA told me to come talk to him directly next time I see a similar opportunity. He's just more personable and resourceful. He's one of the few people that made me think twice about leaving this company sooner.

    Cons

    My experience and opinion come from being a System Design Specialist in Hopkinton, MA office from Feb to Sep of 2014, so this may not apply to everyone and everything. Please read it with a grain of salt. None of the items are new--they are all existing problems that the company has heard from multiple past surveyors.

    Astrum Solar feels like a company run by a group of sales consultants who just happen to sell solar systems, not by a group of people who are knowledgeable and/or passionate about green energy. There are some, just not as many as I hope there would be in a solar company. As Astrum Solar becomes a part of Direct Energy and plans to increase in size, I'm afraid it will lose the personal touch that comes with being a small company. More resources will be allocated to hire more people and automate processes. So.. inevitably, Astrum Solar will try to do what SolarCity, Sun Run, and other solar companies do, just differently enough to avoid legal troubles..?

    Astrum Solar really needs a separate department for the surveyors, in which surveyors report to one manager, not three. Scheduling can be more efficient and preferably done by someone with surveying background. The sales coordinators really deserve managerial positions and/or at least a raise. Imagine how much they have to put up with once Astrum Solar really doubles in size, aka 70+ surveyors. I would pay not to be in their shoes, as would anyone who reads this review.

    Frequent feedback is essential to monitoring the efficiency and quality of surveys and designs. Having one manager and two senior surveyors from coast to coast is not enough. There has to be a senior surveyor/designer per branch location. Having the physical presence of a local senior member is beneficial on so many levels. The Senior Manager of System Designs feels like an online class professor: available through phone and emails only because he's 3,000 miles away and 3 hours behind. I can only imagine how busy he is, but he is busy from 3,000 miles away and 3 hours behind.

    I have come across dozens of surveys and designs in which I would have to re-visit the property or fix designs that are done by other surveyors. If sale is made, it goes under the original surveyor's name. It's teamwork if it happens once or twice; this is a common practice that has been going on for years. This created an environment in which surveyors are better off doing the best they can to avoid getting on steeper surfaces and just complete as many designs as possible because someone else will climb it. This is the kind of environment in which you'll be more successful if you just get molded into a certain idea of surveyor, rather than constantly pushing yourself to do more.

    As of September 2014, surveyors are still not required to tie in after getting on roofs. The company is probably looking to get by without implementing it for as long as possible, probably until someone actually falls and gets hurt.

    Minimum wage is $15 in some places. I believe surveyors deserve more than flipping burgers or deep frying french fries. Wish all the remaining surveyors at Astrum Solar best of luck. Don't fall. Take care of yourselves. During the exit interview, I was told a bunch stuff about how things are going to get better soon, none with dates. Hope it's because all of them are already happening.

    Advice to Management

    Congratulations on getting acquired by Direct Energy. Some say 3 out of 4 start ups fail, so clearly you guys know what you're doing and have some smart people working with you. Please facilitate in creating a separate department for System Design Specialists (surveyors) ASAP. Senior Manager of System Designs (or the sales manager of CA? What exactly is he now?) really needs a new phone. My exit interview was conducted over the phone and the line dropped more than seven times in 30-45 minutes.

    Astrum Solar Response

    Oct 25, 2014Talent Acquisition Representative

    Thank you for your constructive feedback and time and hard work you contributed with Astrum Solar as a System Designer. We value our employees as our most important resource and are always looking ... More


  10. Helpful (5)

    Great vision but need satisfied employees to continue carrying premier customer experience

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Lead
    Current Employee - Project Lead

    I have been working at Astrum Solar full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Fast growing company in a fast growing industry. A lot of the people that work at Astrum are friendly and have great ideas on how to grow as company/industry. Astrum was just purchased by the very large energy retail and services company Direct Energy so the futures looks even brighter.

    Cons

    Biggest CON is compensation, employees are not compensated enough for the amount of time they put into the rapidly growing company, whether through salary or poorly designed bonus programs it just doesn't add up. This should change with the influx of money coming from Direct Energy. Hoping the weak benefits/vacation packages will change for the better too.

    Advice to Management

    "Premier customer experience" can only be achieved when also producing a Premier Employee Experience


  11. Helpful (2)

    Great, young, rapidly expanding Solar company

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Solar Systems Designer in Hopkinton, MA
    Current Employee - Solar Systems Designer in Hopkinton, MA

    I have been working at Astrum Solar full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Consistent 40 hour work week with overtime opportunities, as much work as you're willing to do, you can rise through the ranks as fast or slow as you want as long as you work hard and do a good job, great culture of nice, knowledgeable and young staff, respectful office environment and opportunity to conduct field and office work.

    Cons

    Overtime and expense form have long lag time after work completed to money deposited, some days are long and hot up on the roof, some upper management is hard to get in touch with but for good reason as busy always expanding territory.

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing what you're doing and never forget your employees on every level of the company ladder are the back bone.



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