By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL — When you talk about trying different trades to find his niche, Wayne Erdman is the king of the hill.
Erdman grew up on the West Bank and started in the business world as an electrician, even though he wasn’t sure just where his career path would lead.
From an electrician, he tried a few other fields—installing cable lines, air conditioning work, plumbing, natural gas line installer, installing car radios, exterior fencing and finally, building homes so he could utilize every license he had ever gotten.
Those early careers don’t include his present line of work, as founder and CEO of RiverView Solar Electric & Thermal Heating in Slidell, which required another handful of certifications. Erdman sees solar power as the way of the future and is now in his fourth year with the growing company.
Erdman must truly be in a special class of his own as someone who may have passed more construction-related tests than anyone.
“I’ve earned about 30 certifications and honestly, kind of got addicted to the challenge of passing tests,” he said with a laugh. “I’m mostly self-educated in the different areas of construction that I have tried.”
Erdman might have known from a young age that he was going to be working with his hands in some capacity.
“When I was young I fixed my own car and I was the kind of person who would take apart the clock radio just to see how it worked,” he said.
The long road of different careers led to where he is today in Slidell, operating a company that he believes is the way of the future when it comes to providing power for your home.
Erdman said he can take any building that uses electricity, and depending on the level of energy efficient improvements, can reduce an electric bill by as much as 60 percent.
Add solar electric products and he can completely end your monthly check to the electric company.
And as if that isn’t attention-getting enough, Erdman said state and federal tax incentives are so huge, with the government wanting homeowners to make the switch to energy efficient products, there is up to 80 percent in tax credits you can be reimbursed for.
“The only thing that slows down our company from having more work than we already have is that the majority of homeowners don’t understand how much you can really save with energy efficient products,” he said.
“These are proven, common sense things like energy efficient windows, doors, insulation and more,” he added. “We guarantee the savings—these numbers really will happen if you invest in these products.”
It took a while for Erdman, now 42, to end up in the energy efficiency/solar power line of work.
He started his own electrical company in 2003, but after getting married and having his first child, knew he had to find a line of work that would produce a better financial future. Not much later, Hurricane Katrina roared through the area as he was still living in the French Quarter.
“I watched the water come in to the French Quarter and stayed down there for five days,” he said. “That was truly something amazing to see.”
After the storm, he spent one day gutting homes in New Orleans and quickly moved on.
“It was the grossest job I ever did,” he said. “The homes were so bad after the waters went down that they had the smell of death.”
He quickly went to working outside by installing exterior fences since there were “hundreds of miles of fence that had been knocked down by Katrina.”
RiverView Construction was formed and he took advantage of storm-related rebuilding for several years until 2009 when he went to a seminar on energy efficiency upgrades, which was quickly followed by his investment in solar power.
Erdman said the average energy efficient home upgrade will cost between $1,500 to $5,000, but be eligible for the state and federal tax credits. He said the energy savings pays for the out-of-pocket investment from the homeowner within three to five years.
“Statistics show us energy costs have historically risen 5 percent a year for decades,” Erdman said. “That isn’t going to change, but if you make these improvements in your home now, you beat that.”
Erdman said his energy efficient products and solar power lasts a minimum of 25 years.