Business View Magazine | Volume 8, Issue 10

91 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE VOLUME 8, ISSUE 10 I n the heart of the Midwestern Corn Belt lies Rochester, Indiana, a rural town that is home to Ag Technologies, a family-owned business founded as a farm equipment and machinery enterprise, and SolarCAM, its subsidiary company that deals in cutting-edge solar energy solutions. As solar and other renewables become an increasingly vocal conversation in non-rural America, Ag Technologies founder James (Jim) Straeter believes it’s time for rural America to join in. With wide-open spaces and, in some cases, exceptionally high greenhouse gas emissions, farming communities like the one in Rochester, IN, can play a pivotal role in creating a green economy by adopting renewable energy sources like solar. But how did a farm equipment and machinery company become a champion for renewable energy in rural America? According to Straeter, it all started with cold showers… “My dad was a farm equipment dealer, and he moved to Rochester in 1984 to manage a company store for New Holland,” says Straeter. “In 1987, we bought the store, and we’ve managed to grow it to the current seven locations that we have. In early 2012, I wanted to experiment with renewable energy as a hobby, so I set up a few windmills, but it soon became clear to me that they were never going to pay themselves back. At the time, we were all taking cold showers, something our three sons were not very pleased with.” Shortly after realizing wind would not pay off (and couldn’t provide reliable hot showers), Straeter decided to try his luck on solar, especially as he saw how much cheaper it was getting year on year. He recalls, “So, we put up solar here at the farm equipment business in January 2012, putting in an adjustable hot water Ag Technologie Solar solutions for rural America