"OH GOODNESS, we have to go get up on stage.”
Those were the words of Trish Chapallaz, who was sitting with her husband at the Optus My Business Awards, when she found out they'd won the Australian Retail Business of the Year.
The couple owns Solar 4RVs, a specialist business providing solar systems for trucks and other mobile applications.
"It was a really nice surprise,” Trish said.
They travelled to Sydney for the awards on November 10, but didn't have a speech prepared as there were seven worthy finalists and they didn't expect to be announced as winner.
"We'd won a few (awards) before but this was the whole of Australia,” Trish said.
"We were hoping to win, everyone thinks they have something unique, and then we heard our names and I said, 'Oh goodness, we have to get up on stage'.”
The business provides solar power for owner-drivers and fleets.
The solar systems for trailers and sleeper cabs provide an off-grid, independent power source that ensures ample power to power lights and monitoring equipment.
Trish said the judges said they selected Solar 4 RVs for being an "industry leader that demonstrates innovation and exemplifies best practice and excellence in customer service”.
"Our uniqueness and commitment to quality was another factor in the win,” Trish said.
"There will always be people wanting the cheapest product available but we are not focused on being all things to all people.
"The challenge for us is overcoming consumer wariness about flexible solar panels.
"The information we provide to support our sales is accurate, practical and reliable.
"This wealth of knowledge cannot be easily or quickly replicated by competitors as it has been accumulated through years of extensive research, testing and customer feedback.”
The couple started the business after buying a caravan in 2013.
They realised there was no-one offering lightweight solar system solutions for mobile applications and a demand for advice and appropriate products that wasn't being met.
So, drawing upon Phil's experience as a chartered engineer with a first-class honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering, and Trish's history in education and management positions, they launched in March 2014, specialising in lightweight solar systems for off-grid applications, stocking the largest range of thin, lightweight, flexible solar panels in Australia and offering a unique design and advice service.
Applications include trucks, trailers, vans, caravans, motorhomes, campers, utes, yachts, boats, ferries, trains, golf carts and kayaks. They also provide engineered solar solutions for industrial equipment such as gantry cranes and pumps.