Solar Turbines Reviews | Glassdoor

Solar Turbines Reviews

Updated February 12, 2017
166 reviews

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166 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Flexible with schedule, good work life balance (in 15 reviews)

  • Solid Performing Company / Diversity Rich / Many Career Paths / Still has Decent Pay & Bonus Plan / Home Based in San Diego with great location (in 17 reviews)

Cons
  • Oil and Gas engineering is back about 30-40 years compared to other technology based industries (in 6 reviews)

  • Hold Agency employees for multiple years without conversion, thus leaving them with low pay and no benefits (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (9)

    "Engineer at KM San Diego"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Design Engineer in La Jolla, CA
    Former Employee - Design Engineer in La Jolla, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Solar Turbines (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The benefits and pay are decent. Most people that work at the company are easy to get along with. The company is stable, or at least has been traditionally. There is no longer a pension, but that is pretty typical across most private companies currently. In terms of overall compensation, I would rate Solar on the upper end of the spectrum (for an engineer) in the San Diego region.

    -401k for salaried employees - 6% matching and an additional 3-5% based on age/time at solar
    -Vacation starting at 3 weeks/year
    -Holiday shutdown - Xmas to New years off, although this comes with the pricetag of various typical holidays throughout the year being work days (veterans day, etc)
    -flexible work schedule (generally) - employees get to work anywhere between 5 - 9am, or later
    -Bonus - targeted at 8% of annual pay, ranging from 0 - 16%. Both Cat and Solar financial performance affect payout, no personal performance modifier.

    Cons

    Industry:
    Market outlook is questionable. Solar makes gas turbines and other associated equipment. The outlook for the gas turbine industry is supposed to be good for the short to mid term, tapering off long term due to renewables, newer technologies, regulation, etc. With the 2015-16 oil bust, Oil & gas Capex is way down, dragging turbine sales with it. Will it come back? If it does, how long will it be back for? If both the short term and long term outlooks are negative, what then?

    Another trend in the industry is scale. Turbines are getting larger, which is forcing Solar to play in unknown markets and technologies already established by the larger manufacturers, ie Siemens and GE,. and all of their subsidiaries, putting Solar at a disadvantage. Some of the recent acquisitions in the past few years, passed up by Cat/Solar, have reduced opportunities further.

    Caterpillar- Cat is a three legged stool of Mining, Construction, and Power Generation (where Solar is). If any of these three are down, there will be cost cutting and consolidation.

    Company:
    Lack of opportunities for training or learning of industry trends, technologies, external to Solar. Cost cutting measures are applied across any and all segments, resulting in reduced budgets for R&D, travel, training, etc. Lean manufacturing is great, applied to products, but applying lean principles to your people results in an inadequately trained workforce. Training and development opportunities inside Solar are lacking in general, tribal knowledge is the name of the game. Lack of technical development is a partial result from turning techs & mechanics into engineers in Solar's past, resulting in a culture of low engineering expertise and ownership.

    Processes and documentation of everything slows work to a crawl. Software the company uses is needlessly complicated/flawed/patched together, resulting in a multitude of steps just to complete one task. Endless review meetings and approvals for work from dozens of stakeholders means nothing is ever cleanly completed.

    The politics and nepotism that are mentioned in other reviews is true. Supervisors have enormous control over their employees' prospects for promotion or advancement.

    Solar needs to develop a strategy to be successful 20 years from now, in addition to this year and the next. Watch what is happening to the coal industry very closely. Natural gas, sooner or later, right or wrong, will be next. Almost all of Solar's competitors are diversified across the entire energy & power generation spectrum.

    Advice to Management

    Solar has a deep history adapting to technology and business climates as they have changed throughout the 20th century. Find a new strategy and develop new R&D now, so that you remain profitable 10/15/20 years from now and can attract and keep the talent that will put you there.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Stability Is the Perk"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Solar Turbines full-time

    Pros

    Solar is a fairly stable environment, with little fluctuation. Great place to start your career, and the company is customer focused. If you have little to no experience, this is a great place to get your feet wet. Decent benefits.

    Cons

    Difficult to advance. Really helps to know someone or learn to play the game. Get in line, and wait your turn for advancements. Management will sit on decent paying positions for years, maybe even decades.

    Advice to Management

    Don't take your excellent performers for granted. One day you might look around and find out that the people who were carrying the load are no longer around.


  3. "Package ME"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Package ME in San Diego, CA
    Former Employee - Package ME in San Diego, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Solar Turbines full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Competitive Salary
    Great Team
    Room for growth and cross training

    Cons

    Your in the Oil&Gas Industry
    Not a creative or innovative environment


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  5. Helpful (9)

    "In times of crisis, the president will dress as Batman!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Engineering in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Engineering in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Solar Turbines full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Not many anymore....Used to be great pay, benefits and the chance to grow. Today, not so much anymore. Jump ship before it sinks completely. It actually used to be a great place to work, with pensions and good benefits. Then it transitioned into the sunset retirement for people hired between 1996 and the 2000's, and now is just 401K if you are permanent. But mostly now the place is now staffed with temps, who still have a spark in their eye thinking they joined a great company. Pay is average/OK, but mediocre when you take into account it is a hazardous environment.

    Cons

    Since last year with the oil prices down this company has been dramatically reducing staff and where needed, added temps with no real benefits through a staffing agency. In light of massive layoffs and a lack of real product innovation, the president will dress as Batman (yes, that is right) as Batman, to address factory employees and dispense advice to employees that are on the brink of losing their jobs. He will talk about how to face the challenges ahead and some personal stories that do not relate. Some directors who have recently left Solar had it right when they saw the downfall coming and left that once glorious organization. Before, Solar was riding on this prosperous windfall of high oil prices, but now that oil is down to $30 a barrel, all the ineptitude starting from the top and cascading down to middle management is going to really suffer from a lack of business acumen. If you are fresh out of college, don't think that this is the organization your parents joined. It is a sad remnant. If you are employed there, you already know it is a matter of time before this old technology company implodes with all the regulations and cost cutting pressures enhanced by its mediocre performing Caterpillar parent implodes. At a recent meeting, one of the directors for O&G was asked what the incentives to stay were for younger engineers. He replied that he did not know, since he was already very close to retirement and that "it was a different environment now" Amazing, that coming from the leadership. What a lack of it! The problems at Solar are compounded by Cat's troubles. Google this, it's public information: they bought Bucyrus and Siwei. Bucyrus purchased in 2010 has not turned a profit yet and Siwei was a Chinese deal were they cooked the books. So again, if you are a bright young fella, don't join here. You will just grow frustrated. Do your research based on the above listed facts, add to the mix that only families and nepotism rule, and you will soon realize its better to leave this company to rot.

    Advice to Management

    Jump ship while you can if you have really transferable skills. If you are just pushing the agenda from the top, just wait for the company's natural demise. As for myself, preparing my exit parachute


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Production Floor"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    No real pros to working here other than its a job

    Cons

    Low pay,no real chance to move up unless your related to or a friend of one of the managers all you have to do is see how many people are related there and what their jobs are.

    Advice to Management

    Cat needs to get this place under control because there are alot of people who will leave if the option comes up.


  7. "Comfortable Place to Work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Manufacturing Design Engineer in San Diego, CA
    Former Employee - Manufacturing Design Engineer in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Solar Turbines full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good salary, great team, and a place you can work for the rest of your life

    Cons

    Stressful, and the underutilize talent. Oil and Gas engineering is back about 30-40 years compared to other technology based industries.


  8. Helpful (1)

    "Engineers need to get their hands dirty."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Machinist in San Diego, CA
    Former Employee - Machinist in San Diego, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Solar Turbines (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Good pay and benefits. Most employees are happy to work with.

    Cons

    Engineers come directly from collage with degrees but no experience. A machinist with 20 years of knowledge can't talk to them at all. Continuous improvement is a joke.

    Advice to Management

    Get out of the air conditioned office and walk the floor more.


  9. "Company survives at the expense of the employee"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Diego, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Diego, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Solar Turbines full-time

    Pros

    Stability, history, location, exciting product, large enough company to do many different positions while in the same company, strong business ethics

    Cons

    Values Company profit and cost cutting over employee appreciation Low increases and pay.


  10. "solar turbines"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Tecn Info Specialist in San Diego, CA
    Former Employee - Tecn Info Specialist in San Diego, CA
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Solar Turbines full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    this company took care of it's employees

    Cons

    too dependent on the oil business


  11. "Engineering Manager/Product Development"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Field Systems Engineer in San Diego, CA
    Former Employee - Field Systems Engineer in San Diego, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Solar Turbines full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    World Wide Company with great products

    Cons

    Difficult to determine quanity and dollar value of product delivered to each part of the world.

    Advice to Management

    none



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