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Solar entrepreneur wins Florida small business of the year

The United States Small Business Administration named a combat veteran as Florida’s 2016 Veteran-Owned Small-Business Person of the Year.

A1A Solar sbdc award 1Pete Wilking, founder and president of A1A Solar Contracting, increased sales by 152 percent from 2012 to 2013. Based on increased demand, the company created more jobs by expanding from eight to 11 employees in 2013 and doubling its staff to 27 in 2014. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, employment in the U.S. solar business grew 12 times faster than overall job creation in 2015. Currently, A1A Solar employes 46 people and will create more jobs as the solar industry and A1A Solar continues to grow.

Wilking, a U.S. Navy combat veteran, served from 1988 to 2000 as a Supply Corps Officer and during the First Persian Gulf War. He earned his master’s in business administration from the University of North Florida in 1999, where he worked as an intern with the Small Business Development Center.

Wilking started A1A Solar Contracting, located at 10418 New Berlin Road, Unit 223 in Jacksonville, in 2010 after noting a demand for a highly qualified company to design and install solar panels on residential and commercial buildings in Northeast Florida. In addition to being a Florida-licensed solar contractor, A1A Solar is the only solar contractor in the Northeast Florida region with two NABCEP-certified installers.

“The Small Business Development Center played an integral part in providing assistance for various challenges and issues that I’ve faced with growing my business,” said Wilking. “Being nominated and receiving the award for Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year is such an honor. I am humbled and look forward to continuing to grow A1A Solar.”

A1A SolarThe SBA recognized Wilking for driving job creation, economic growth, outstanding advocacy, performance and economic contributions to Florida. He also received the organization’s North Florida Veteran-Owned Small-Business Person of the Year award.

The SBA recognized Wilking and all other 2016 winners at the Annual Small Business Week & Lender Awards Celebration at University of North Florida’s Small Business Development Center during Small Business Week. The SBA annually recognizes small-business owners, entrepreneurs and advocates from all 50 states and U.S. territories for their efforts in driving job creation and economic growth.

A1A Solar Contracting provides residential and commercial solar electric photovoltaic design and system installations for homes, businesses and governmental agencies in the Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia regions. A1A Solar is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, voted 2016 Best Places to Work in Jacksonville and named the 2013 and 2014 Green Business of the Year by the Amelia Island Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at

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