JuiceBar provides premium electric vehicle charging stations in more than 1,000 locations throughout the United States and Canada. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with JuiceBar Vice President Sales Paul Young about how the company has been innovating and evolving in Connecticut for more than a decade.
NAN PRICE: Give us a little history about how JuiceBar began.
PAUL YOUNG: Pro Park owners John and Dave Schmid came up with the original JuiceBar concept 13 years ago. They own parking garage assets and manage garages and valet operations across the country for commercial property owners and managers. They wanted to enter the electric car (EV) charging space, looked at what was available, didn’t like any of it, and decided to go ahead and design their own charger.
John and Dave started an incubator in Hartford called the Green Garage Associates. The Green Parking Council (GPC), which is now under the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) umbrella, was part of that group. The GPC certifies the green conversion of parking facilities to ensure they’re more sustainable and environmentally responsible.
For the JuiceBar design, John and Dave collaborated with BMW Designworks to help create the iconic look and feel of the JuiceBar charging stations.
NAN: Why Connecticut?
PAUL: We’ve always been in Connecticut. The first iteration of JuiceBar was located at Pro Park at Union Place in Hartford, then we were at 750 Main Street for a while under the Green Garage incubator. We also spent some time at Nerac, Inc. in Tolland, where Nerac President Kevin Bouley was very helpful as we looked for different ways to fund the operation as a startup. Being located in the Nerac community along with other entrepreneurs and startups was exciting. Dave is still very involved with Kevin on his XcellR8 counsel, which reviews University of Connecticut startups.
In terms of manufacturing, we switched our location several times, which was an interesting experience. We first built our charging stations locally in Willimantic and then we moved them out to California. It was a big jump, but the country’s EV stations were built in California at that point. That worked well for a while, until we realized we were actually working with a competitor and it was time to change. From there, we shifted our manufacturing to Brockton, MA.
Two and a half years ago, President and CEO Paul Vosper and Executive Chairman Jeffrey Mayer purchased the company and brought in venture capital and a lot of research and development dollars. Under their new leadership, we’ve designed our Generation 3 JuiceBar with a Connecticut company and contract manufacturer, Gyre9 in Oxford, which brought in some groundbreaking technology, not only from here in the United States, but also from the Netherlands.
JuiceBar division of Oasis Charger Corp. has settled in two places in Connecticut. Our North American Headquarters are in East Hartford and our International Headquarters are in Norwalk.
NAN: So, the charging stations are now built and assembled here in Connecticut.
PAUL: Yes. And that’s a critical point to make. Our Gen 3 units now have a 100% JuiceBar brand internally and externally. Prior to that, we had utilized very heavy-duty components from other manufacturers. So, we were buying parts, which is not uncommon in the industry, and assembling those pieces inside of the JuiceBar in Massachusetts. The shift to Connecticut includes pretty much soup-to-nuts JuiceBar inside and out and much safer, faster, groundbreaking technology.
NAN: How has JuiceBar marketed and built its clientele?
PAUL: Originally, thanks to the Pro Park relationships, they were already in place. Pro Park has customers and clients across the country. So, we were able to plant seeds—JuiceBars—at high-end client facilities, like the Charles Hotel in Boston, Parc 55 and the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco, and Canopy Airport Parking in Denver, which show how we were able to spread across the country and begin to grow the garden. We now market our stations through social media, web events, our an enhanced website.
NAN: Any advice for others who are starting out by building on an idea like this?
PAUL: I think there’s a bit of luck involved, but I will say that the electrification of transportation was never a bad decision. I jumped in early 10 years ago with a really good feeling that EV was going to be coming along. So, I would encourage people to get involved with things that will help clean up the environment and help save our planet. That’s exactly what I did.
The going was tough during the first five years, then the next five years and especially right now, the window is open and the phones are ringing. People are very interested. My advice is: Get in there early and pick the right space. You’ll do fine.
NAN: What’s next?
PAUL: Connecticut has already jumped on board with supporting the electrification of transportation. New financial incentives are coming from CT DEEP, Eversource, and UI Avangrid later this year. So, stay tuned and watch this industry because Connecticut is a part of the consortium that has signed an MOU committing to electrification. It’s going to be an exciting year. Get ready for a lot of good things EV-related.
Learn more about JuiceBar
Photos: JuiceBar Vice President Sales Paul Young (left) and David Tanner Chief Product Officer at the New Jersey League of Muni Show in 2018.
A Juicebar charging station installed at The Preserve in Windsor.