After starting out as a small electrical contractor in Sydney, David Saraie from EFC Contracting has embraced solar as the future of energy and now business is booming, writes Gavin Dennett.

In two decades of operating his electrical contracting business, David Saraie has seen a lot of change. His enterprise has grown from residential electrical work to securing commercial, government and development contracts.

A few years ago, after seeing the value of solar power, he completed his accreditation, changed his business name to EFC Contracting and embraced renewables as the future of energy.

How did you start out as an electrical contractor?

I started my electrical contracting business in 2003 as a sole trader. I commenced with residential jobs, but six or seven years ago I shifted towards government work and then commercial. I changed my business name to EFC Contracting as we got bigger, and for the past couple of years we have become involved in solar, doing a lot of government jobs.

What prompted the business name change?

The business was in my dad’s name, which originally involved heaps of residential electrical work. Then we moved into large-scale jobs, but customers were still calling saying, “Please fix my light,” and I had to tell them we don’t do that anymore. It forced me to change the business name.

What does your work involve these days?

We do lots of fibre optic, substations, access control, security and solar. We offer the whole package for a project. We have contracts for blocks of units and commercial solar jobs – 25kW, 30kW. Having solar accreditation is great because it means I can get full contracts from builders and investors for whole buildings.

I realised it’s better to have solar in hand because we can offer the full package and I don’t need to get involved with different subcontractors to get the job done. It’s also easier for the builder because they want to deal with one person instead of 10 different people.

One of EFC Contracting’s rooftop solar installations on a Sydney block of units. Photo: Supplied.

Do you enjoy solar installation work?

Solar is the future of electrical, and as a contractor in a competitive market I have to be up to date with knowledge of the industry. Solar, fibre optic, electric car chargers – these are the three big areas in recent years and we have accreditation for all of them.

We do battery and storage systems, too. We work closely with [solar and battery storage training and consulting company] GSES. For a big project, I pay them to design a package. The market is moving forward very quickly and you have to keep up with all the rules from the Clean Energy Council.

What solar projects do you currently have on the go in Sydney?

We are working on a block of 27 units right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We also have a block of 18 luxury units in Cronulla, with an automated system throughout the whole building and 25kW solar and battery. I have another five-level commercial building, putting in 15kW of solar with battery, plus a 9kW solar job. We are also looking at a 20kW solar upgrade in Penrith.

What other areas of clean energy would you like to expand into?

Solar is certainly rising, especially with energy prices the way they are. These days, people also realise the government has put in the budget for installing EV chargers on public streets so we might try to get more of those types of contracts. We are not involved in that yet, but it might be good to explore.

We are already working with the government on projects so public EV installation could be a good opportunity for us in the future. There are currently great EV rebate incentives so more of these vehicles will be appearing on our roads soon.