Arno Aghamalian

Founder & Chief Executive Officer

A natural-born innovator and visionary, Arno made his mark overseas as an entrepreneur and inventor. With early career success establishing and managing manufacturing plants and distribution centers that grew into multi-million dollar businesses, he sought out a new challenge.  Looking for an investment that would not only grow with advances in technology, but would also be Earth-friendly in a big way, Arno found his answer in solar energy. Setting out with a noble objective, Arno's vision has made Solar Optimum one of the leading solar providers in the state of California.

IN THE NEWS

Solar Optimum Celebrates 10 Years of Excellence as a Leading Provider in California  

Arno Aghamalian named 2017 CEO of the Year for Renewable Energy by CEOMonthly.com and AI Global Media


 John Thrasher Chief Operating Officer

John Thrasher

Chief Operating Officer

Solar Optimum COO John Thrasher oversees all aspects of the company’s solar energy operations, supporting the management team by taking a highly active approach to ensure the highest level of execution and success.

John has the keen ability for driving rapid improvement by quickly applying his well-honed strategic and management knowledge to identify the highest-impact challenges and opportunities — then, to create straightforward, achievable initiatives that will lead to dramatic gains in revenue, cash flow and enterprise value.

John brings more than 40 years of business experience to Solar Optimum, having held positions with four Fortune 500 companies — as well as running six middle-market firms — in roles that have included Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President. His exemplary list of accomplishments includes: oversight of worldwide Mergers & Acquisitions and Strategic Planning for a division of Atlantic Richfield; Tripling sales and doubling profits for a preeminent technology company; carrying out the intricate negotiations for the sale and purchase of over 30 corporations, large and small; and, having orchestrated the successful turnaround of a now-profitable and thriving aerospace company. His extensive resume consists of executive-level positions with DuPont; The Ford Motor Company; Well Point; First Interstate Bank; Hamilton Pacific; Vanguard Integrity Professionals; International Fuels; and First Financial Exchange.

A native of Michigan, John holds a Bachelor of Arts in Financial Administration and a Juris Doctor from Michigan State University.

Beyond his role at Solar Optimum, John enjoys spending time with family and friends, but he can also be found on the racquetball court, rock climbing, or collecting sports memorabilia.


 Ara Krikorian, MBA VP of Commercial Development

ARA Krikorian, MBA

VP Commercial Development

“Very few companies in the solar-energy industry provide the level of integrity, service and products as does Solar Optimum,” says Ara Krikorian, Solar Optimum’s Vice President of Commercial Development.  “From the top down, the company’s corporate culture is based on client satisfaction and value.”

A 15-year veteran of the renewables/alternative energy industry – who includes three years of quality-systems management on his resume – Ara has an intimate, first-hand understanding and appreciation for the way Solar Optimum conducts its business.

In his role at Solar Optimum, Ara is responsible for expediting the rapid growth of the company’s commercial division and managing its corporate strategy; overseeing strategic partnerships and accounts; as well as handling quality control, business development, sales, marketing, personnel, estimating and technologies.

Ara brings leadership and an extensive range of executive experience to Solar Optimum, the breadth of which has spanned an array of industries, corporations and causes.  While he has a deep background in the hard-sciences – and an already successful career in business development and marketing – Ara possesses the uniquely holistic business acumen necessary to deliver successful results. This is evident in the 30 megawatts of power he has been directly responsible for selling over the course of his career — not to mention, the impressive scope of solar commercial projects that include San Francisco International Airport, Intuit, Westfield, various CA Central Valley farms/growers, and Pitzer College.

Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Ara earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Loyola Marymount University, and his Master of Business Administration from The George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University.

Among his outside interests, Ara enjoys travelling, skiing, and staying current with the latest in science and technology.


 Aleen L. Khanjian: Attorney

Aleen L. Khanjian

Attorney

A dedicated professional and fierce advocate for her clients, Aleen has served as General Counsel for Solar Optimum, Inc., since 2012.

A graduate of the University of Southern California and Loyola Law School, Aleen is a seasoned litigation attorney with more than 15 years of broad-based professional experience.

Aleen has represented large corporations against the State of California, at the administrative level, and in Court.  Although she is already highly creative and analytical, she continually strives to improve her legal acumen.  She honed her negotiation and conflict-resolution skills through mediation training with the Los Angeles County Bar.

She also enjoys serving her community.  In fact, Aleen’s multi-faceted experience has allowed her to utilize her talents for writing, speaking, research, analysis, and organization, not only in the legal field, but in the non-profit sector, as well.


 EMMITT SUMMERS: VP, Residential Development

Emmitt Summers

Vice President of Residential Development

Emmitt Summers is a highly respected and value-driven executive who has developed and led high-performing teams to new levels of success in highly competitive industries, cutting-edge markets and hyper-growth environments. His ability to utilize every available resource and opportunity – while developing innovative solutions for enhancing competitiveness – has elevated the customer experience in each and every business arena in which he has endeavored.

With more than 20 years of executive-level management expertise, Emmitt has spent the majority if his career in the Green-Tech sector, having helped originate and deploy over 35,000 Solar Systems (~210MW).  He joined Solar Optimum from JLM energy, where he served as VP of Residential, Channel and Partner Sales. He created and scaled the Residential Business Channel and, within one year, built a ~$20MM business.  His professional experience also includes exemplary entrepreneurial and leadership roles at Sunrun, Verengo Solar, Fulcrum Shift, and BDS Marketing.

Over the course of Emmitt's illustrious career, he's generated an impressive $2.7 billion in sales, comprised of $1.5B in the residential solar and energy storage industries with $1.2B in the retail, IT and Telecom sectors. His personal mission is to help businesses take control of their marketing presence and brand themselves in a way that inspires, impresses, promotes and builds confidence in their products and services.

“Solar Optimum is one of those ‘best kept secrets’ in solar,” says Emmitt.  “That’s not to say they’re ‘unknown.’  Their standing within the industry is legendary – with one of the finest leadership teams anywhere, plus an exemplary track record of success in Commercial and Residential. It’s my goal to continue to help Solar Optimum build upon its “best in class” reputation, ensuring that the company’s Residential Solar Business is the most respected and productive across Economic, Customer Experience and Employee Experience fronts.”

Emmitt earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland College Park, located just outside Washington, D.C.  He is also a sought-after subject-matter expert – featured often as both speaker and panelist for the Consumer Electronics Association, Small Business Council, as well as the Specialty Equipment Market Association, Education Council.

Raised in the nation’s capital of Washington DC, Emmitt is still an avid fan of the Redskins, Orioles, Wizards and Capitals. A long-time Southern Californian resident, he enjoys cooking, writing, traveling, and doing charity work with inner city youth.  But spending time with his family tops Emmitt’s list. “I am most proud of raising my two amazing daughters: Genevieve (28) and Ariana (22). Anticipating the birth of our new son later this year, I’m on my ‘second tour of duty’ with my wonderful wife Stephanie and two-year-old Harper.”


Rainier de Ocampo, MBA

VP Marketing

Rainier de Ocampo is an experienced marketing executive and leader, highly skilled in strategic and creative marketing with diverse experience in developing successful marketing and communications plans. As an expert in business communications, team development, brand marketing and project management, Rainier has held senior-level marketing positions with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Forte-The Collective, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and The Los Angeles Film and Recording Schools, to name a few.

When asked about Solar Optimum’s role as California’s leading solar-energy provider, Rainier says that the key is being customer-centric, not product centric. “The customer is our focus,” he says. “Everything evolves around them and their specific needs.”

At Solar Optimum, he is driven to create, manage and lead the marketing efforts for both the residential and commercial sectors. With a fully integrated and disruptive approach to marketing, he continues to develop a consistent and multi-dimensional experience for customers through oversight of strategy, advertising, PR and promotional activities.

Born and raised in Southern California, Rainier earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at California State University of San Bernardino, as well as a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University’s George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management. He has also attended elite Chicago business schools at the University of Chicago and DePaul University, where he attained marketing certifications from their Executive Marketing Programs. Whenever possible, he returns to the Windy City to reconnect. “I love the energy and dynamics of big cities like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles,” he admits. 

Rainier is a three-time nominee of the Los Angeles Business Journal's Asian Business Awards, which is dedicated to Asian business leaders throughout the Greater L.A. area who set an example for excellence.

Giving back is a priority for Rainier, as reflected in his charitable work. Whether it’s rebuilding lives under the auspice of his local church and the Chicago Salvation Army to help individuals rehabilitate and transition back into the work force — or lending a hand alongside the L.A. Clippers Foundation and Staples Center Foundation to collect clothing and toys for families in need during the holiday season — Rainier believes in the meaning and fulfillment of service.  What’s more, Rainier finds time in his busy schedule as an adjunct professor to teach social and digital marketing at UCLA Extension as well as Entrepreneurship Marketing at Pepperdine University's MBA graduate business program.


 Ian Wilcox: Controller

Ian Wilcox

Controller

As Controller of Solar Optimum, Ian Wilcox is responsible for the company’s fiscal management, financial planning and analysis.

With more than 30 years in the financial accounting service industry, Wilcox came to Solar Optimum in early 2017 from Fetta, Kidder & Wilcox, Certified Public Accountants, LLP.  At Fetta, Kidder & Wilcox, he served the accounting, bookkeeping and tax needs of small businesses with a professional emphasis in CFO consulting services.

Having extensive experience in successfully leading the financial and operational performance of multi-million dollar domestic and international corporations, Wilcox includes among his expertise the management, development, implementation and oversight of all processes related to a companies’ financial operations — in addition to providing executive support to ownership.

Wilcox earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, and he is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of California.


 Ian Wilcox: Controller

Chris Biller

Senior Operations Manager

As a Senior Operations Manager, Chris Biller is responsible for leading the strategic alignment of the Sales, Marketing, Operations, Procurement, Construction, and Finance teams at Solar Optimum around key performance metrics, and expediting continuous improvement efforts geared towards growth.

A 23-year professional in the General Construction industry, with 11 of those years focused on electrical principles and processes – Chris has extensive experience in overseeing all phases of construction for more than 45 MW of photovoltaic systems solar ranging from commercial to utility scale projects serving government and private-sector clients.

Pursuing his entrepreneurial instinct, Chris ran his own construction business for four years in Northern California, after which he worked at Sunwize Technologies. Chris was responsible for bringing in the highest profit margin on any Sunwize project ever constructed: an impressive 30%. Upon completion of several successful projects during his time in Northern California, including VA Phoenix Medical Hospital in Arizona (3.8MW Canopies), VA Loma Linda Medical Hospital (1.7MW Canopies & Roof Mount) and American Samoa Power Authority (1.7MW Ground Mount), Chris moved on to a role at SolarWorld Americas, Inc. as the Senior Project Manager, responsible for approximately 44.8MW of photovoltaic systems including a 2MW project for Tampa Airport, Florida.

Chris’ track record and dedication make him a powerful addition to the Solar Optimum team. “I’m committed to growing Solar Optimum’s operations with each solar project we complete on time and under budget for our clients,” says Chris.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Sacramento, Chris obtained his Contractors license at 26 years old and took the path of obtaining additional licenses and certificates to supplement his vast working experience.

In his spare time, Chris enjoys spending quality time with his wife and three daughters, who happily fill his schedule on the weekends.


 Eric Godinez: Senior Project Manager

Eric Godinez

Senior Project Manager

Over the course of his Solar Optimum career, Eric Godinez has worn a number of “hats.”  In fact, according to Eric, each hat — from installer to site technician; surveyor to permit runner; sales assistant to project designer; and practically every job in between — have molded his ability to be a better team member and provide the utmost in customer service.

“While the commercial/industrial side is my purview, I like to keep an eye on the other departments because I still have an emotional stake in their success,” Eric admits.

As Senior Project Manager, Eric oversees large commercial projects and leads a team that has been recognized for exemplary work by the City of Los Angeles.  With nearly eight years of experience in the solar industry, Eric is respected for being a skilled project manager and leader, as well as for his expertise in technical, analytical and critical thinking.

“I’m still very much involved in residential projects, design, and basically anywhere I can help out.  It’s part of the teamwork ethic that our CEO Arno instills in us all.”

Eric earned his certificate in Electrical Technology from Wyotech in Long Beach, but also holds a certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), one of the most respected designations and ultimate validation of experience and knowledge in the solar industry.

“For me, happy customers are a big part of Solar Optimum’s success.  When so many new customers are recommended by former customers, it’s crucial that our team take the needs and satisfaction of our clients very seriously.”

In his spare time, Eric cherishes moments with loved ones, particularly his daughters.  And although he gets plenty of practice exercising his technical knowhow at work, Eric likes to try his hand at re-creating many of the experiments made famous by legendary inventor, engineer, physicist, and futurist, Nikola Tesla.


 Velid Cosic: Senior Construction Manager

Velid Cosic

Senior Construction Manager

Like a number of Solar Optimum employees, Velid Cosic’s journey to become the Company’s Senior Construction Manager started far from California.  As a young man, he studied architectural, electrical engineering and building construction in the former Yugoslavia.  When the opportunity presented itself nearly 20-years ago, Velid, his wife Amela, and their two young daughters, integrated to the United States.  Due to their extemporary skill sets and educational backgrounds, their path to American citizenship was expeditious.

Velid’s career in the electrical field began around the turn of the century, while working at Bergelectric Corporation.  For almost a decade, he worked on both industrial and commercial job sites in California and Florida.  During that time, he attended Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) School to become a licensed electrician in the state of California.

For his hard work in 2003, Velid was honored with a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate, as well as recognized for outstanding achievement by the ABC.

In 2010, Velid attended contractor’s license school and obtained a C-10 license.  A year later, he joined Martifer Solar Los Angeles as their Senior Construction Manager, where he managed, supervised, and led numerous solar construction projects — from smaller-sized jobs to big commercial solar projects throughout the country.

After parting ways with Martifer, Velid joined Solar Optimum, where he continues to bring his industrious, award-winning management skills to every project he undertakes.  “I enjoy working for our CEO Arno Aghamalian,” he notes. “Arno inspires, empowers and encourages his people to do their best work.  He has created a company atmosphere in which the sky is the limit, if only you work hard and do your best.”

Since joining Solar Optimum in 2015, Velid has taken immense pride in being part of a successful, burgeoning company with all the inevitable growing pains that come with the pursuit of excellence.  Those pains are just opportunities waiting for solutions, he says.  Velid’s reputation is that of getting each job done —  and done right.

Around the office, Velid is well-known for his love and enthusiasm for Formula One racing.  Sunday during the racing season, he never misses a race.  What might still be a secret to some, is that Velid helped pay his way through school as a professional musician, playing piano and guitar in a band that specialized in popular music and rock 'n' roll.  Even today, Velid and his daughters, who are also musicians, occasionally “take five” for a jam session.


 Gene Okun: Commercial Sales Manager

Gene Okun

Commercial Sales Manager

Throughout his career as an experienced energy developer and solar advocate, Gene Okun has flexed his muscles to achieve extraordinary results over the course of his prolific 20-year career.

A veteran of the solar industry with extensive experience in carbon offset valuations and risk, Gene specializes in energy project development of solar, microgrid, and cogeneration for all solar and microgrid systems ranging from residential projects to multi megawatt projects.

In his pivotal role developing solar energy projects for Solar Optimum’s Commercial Sales division, Gene employs his strategic expertise and years of business leadership into the development and application of renewable energy sources, transforming opportunities into innovative, practical and impactive sustainable designs.

Gene attained his formal electrical training at Mid Florida Tech in Orlando, Florida, and he has a Bachelor’s degree from University of Central Florida. What’s more, his resume includes crucial hand on experience working on myriad commercial and residential solar energy construction projects.

His background is impressive and includes being owner-operator of Microgrid Energy, which focuses on microgrid energy generation project development related to design, engineering, financing, monitoring, maintaining, and cleaning of advanced microgrids; Solar & Co-Gen Power Generation Manager for EnPro, an energy services contractor; United States Western Regional Manager and Ontario Canadian developer for Advanced Green Technologies (AGT); founder and president of International Solar Consulting, where he spent a decade engaging Fortune 500 companies in commercial and industrial renewable-energy systems both here and abroad, working with customers by combining onsite evaluation, demand requirements, and financial capabilities to help provide complete sustainable solutions.

Principle and founding member of New York based CRD Analytics (NASDAQ ticker symbol “QCRD”), Gene helped create the first-ever true Global Sustainability Index used to assess risk and overall public company performance making sustainability investable; providing captains of industry with the tools to shape sustainability strategies simultaneously while creating and improving shareholder value and share performance. The sustainability index is being used around the world to develop financial products by large financial firms and fund managers around the world.

Gene’s key to life and success is living an active, healthful lifestyle.  In fact, his past includes a turn as a competitive body builder and power-lifter; he’s also owned and operated several successful health and wellness enterprises.  He credits his success to loving what he does for a living, consistency, fitness and competitive spirit, which goes hand in hand with his belief that “when you take care of yourself — you’re at your best to serve the needs of others.”

Gene also has a strong opinion of his current family at Solar Optimum.  “Our CEO, Arno, has brought together a well-seasoned group of industry veterans — people at the top of their field — who all have a common goal and a sense of pride that resonates with customers and our family of employees alike.” 


 Tio Tin Tan: Electrical Engineer

Tio Tin Tan

P.E. Electrical Engineer

An experienced technician in electrical systems, Tio Tin Tan is vital to the Solar Optimum engineering team, having worked over a quarter century of his career serving the City of Glendale as an Electrical Inspector and Plan Checker.

Tio joined the solar energy leader in 2014, when Arno Aghamalian, President and CEO of Solar Optimum recognized the incredible experience and value that could be gained by bringing Tio aboard his team.

Tio earned his Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from California State University, Los Angeles; and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from California State University, Los Angeles.

What’s more, he holds certifications from the International Council of Building Officials (ICBO) as a Registered California Professional Electrical Engineer, Certified Electrical, Inspector, and Contractor.   The ICBO is a prestigious body dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures.

His ongoing objective is to ensure the success of each Solar Optimum project through his expertise and background in order to ensure that each and every customer enjoys the finest solar-energy products and services available.


 Anashe Petrossian: Operations Manager

Anashe Petrossian

Operations Manager

When it comes to the many facets of her life, Anasheh (Anna) Petrossian seems to have found a recurring recipe for success.  Naturally curious and sharp, Anna loves to tackle a challenging process or situation, then craft it into one that’s highly serviceable and efficient.  It’s an invaluable trait that’s helped her flourish in her role as Operations Manager at Solar Optimum.

Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Anna came to United States in 1996 with her mother to seek greater opportunities and join her siblings who were already living in California.  She worked for several years in the mortgage and real-estate business as a senior loan processor and underwriter, where she found a niche in organizational management and being detail-oriented.

Anna was introduced to the solar industry when she joined a relative’s company that needed help.  During her years there, she learned many of the processes that went into selling, installing and servicing solar energy.  She got a taste of how things were run — and gained a practical understanding of the ingredients, so to speak, that were strategically vital to better the company’s status quo.

When Anna found herself with the opportunity to do the same at Solar Optimum, she didn’t hesitate.  Owner and CEO Arno Aghamalian brought her in as an administrative coordinator.  In a short period of time, she helped transform the company’s relatively “old school” administrative processes into a streamlined, automated system by working with developers to mold the company into a technically-organized operation, which led to greater success, efficiency, value, and customer satisfaction.

“I created a situation where Arno could focus his attention on company growth and the greater challenges at hand — directing his energy more efficiently where he needed to lead and inspire, while I dealt with his previous, time-consuming tasks.”

Today, Anna continues to innovate and manage over 100 projects each month.  Her responsibilities include, but are not limited to: preparation/review and approval of project budgets, finalization of contracts, assistance engineering in writing scope of work, overseeing all design electrical engineering work, coordination of all necessary construction inspections with city building and safety and utility companies, oversight of each phase of the project, determination of the necessity of additional reinforcement, implementation of all safety procedures and corrective actions, and training of clients of newly installed systems with proper procedures.

If her Solar Optimum duties weren’t enough, Anna maintains a passion for the culinary arts.  Like her natural curiosity of organization and the solar energy industry drove her to excel in business, her passion for cooking propelled Anna into culinary school to seek answers to her technical curiosity for creating culinary masterpieces.  In her spare time, she enjoys running her own modest entrepreneurial enterprise, baking and decorating specialty cakes for practically any occasion.

“I approach my love of baking and cooking in the same way I approached my role at Solar Optimum” says Anna.  “In such a quickly evolving industry like solar, you just can’t assume to know everything.  Every day is another chance to learn something new.  I come to work with the eagerness and expectation that I’ll not only discover something I didn’t know before — but also have the chance to teach others.  It’s all part of getting better at my job and more effective in serving our customers.”


 Artur Vardanyan: Procurement Manager

Artur Vardanyan

Procurement Manager

Artur Vardanyan likes to spend more time getting things accomplished than making small talk, especially when it means getting things done —and done right.  “First and foremost, I demand a lot of myself, and enjoy doing a job in which I can take pride,” he admits.  “Part of this is liking the company I work for.  At Solar Optimum, I see the same work ethic from my coworkers.”

As Procurement Manager for Solar Optimum, Artur is responsible for making timely and cost-effective buying decisions that remain within budget and best suit the needs of each and every solar project.  He determines product needs, then identifies, communicates and negotiates with suppliers — all while setting up shipments, delivery and payment schedules to coordinate with the scheduled project workflow.

Raised and educated in his home country of Armenia, it was there that Artur Vardanyan earned his degree in Industrial Engineering before coming to the United States for greater opportunities. His past year with Solar Optimum has been a busy one of growth, but Artur claims that the company’s spirit of teamwork is one of the primary reasons why they enjoy success and bring so much value to customers.  “It all starts at the top, with our CEO Arno, who has assembled a highly professional and talented family of workers.”

Spending time with his family is among Artur’s pleasures away from work.  An avid chess player who studied the game in school at the precocious age of seven, Artur continues to tests his chess skills against a good friend back in Armenia.  Today, he enjoys sharing the game with his own young children, instilling in them the intricacies of strategy, patience, and taking pride in a match well-played.