Ten K Solar Inc., a maker of solar arrays for businesses and institutions, said Tuesday it has hired a former 3M executive to succeed co-founder Joel Cannon as chief executive.
The new CEO, Jeffrey Hohn, 45, is a technology executive who led the renewable energy business at 3M. He previously worked for Seagate Technology and was an early-stage investor in Ten K Solar.
Cannon, 51, led the Bloomington-based company for eight years as it grew to around $50 million in annual sales. Cannon will remain with Ten K Solar and focus on strategy.
Cannon said he recommended Hohn to the board and private equity investors who own most of the stock as the leader who could take the company to the next level. He added that the firm aims to double its sales in the next two years.
"I'm an early-stage guy and the suite of problems senior managers face as the company gets bigger requires an attention to detail and management greater then when the company was newer," Cannon said.
He added: "In Jeff, the company is gaining a hand-picked leader with both a Ten K Solar history and the leadership skills to manage both the growth and scale Ten K Solar will continue to achieve."
Hohn said Ten K Solar has industry-leading design for solar panels and arrays.
"The market has recognized solar energy as both one of the most cost-efficient forms of electricity and a better energy solution for our future," he said. "I look forward to growing the company."
Ten K Solar employs about 200 people at sites in Bloomington and China. In January, it raised $25 million in equity for expansion — its largest single investment — from Goldman Sachs, Kresge Foundation and others. The next capital raising by Ten K Solar likely would be an initial public offering, sale to a strategic investor or stake sale by existing investors to other financial investors.
Ten K Solar supplies most of the panels for installations in Washington, D.C., on the roofs and parking lots of 34 district-owned facilities. The company provided half the panels for what is currently Minnesota's largest solar array, atop parking ramps at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Hohn, an Alexandria, Minn., native, holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of North Dakota and a master's in management technology from the University of Minnesota. He spent a total of seven years at 3M, but welcomes the opportunity to run his own ship in an emerging industry.
Cannon is a veteran entrepreneur whose former company, Cannon Technologies, pioneered utility industry innovations such as electric-demand response systems, smart-thermostats and smart-metering solutions. It was sold for $190 million in 2006.
Dallas Meyer, 48, who co-founded Ten K Solar with Cannon, remains chief technology officer.