Ocala’s New Start Up Invests In Wind

Fred Huffman watched the growth of the wind industry as he piloted big name musical tour buses across the country.  After Huffman retired, he couldn’t shake the power of wind off his mind. He researched the market and saw a demand for mid-sized wind turbines. Four years later, Huffman established His Wind Turbines.

His Wind Turbines, an Ocala-based company, is about to ship their first 50-kilwat turbine to Italy for the company’s first big test. If the unit performs, Altair, the client, has a 40 ore contract waiting for His Wind. Although the turbine has not had a test run and has not yet been assembled, Huffman is confident in the company’s product and expects it to pass the make or break test. The 50-kilowatt turbine sells for $350,000 including installation.

The company currently has about 10 “in-and-out” workers, including Huffman’s son who is studying wind-power in college. If the first turbine is successful, Huffman says the company will need 50 to 70 full-time workers early on, and that number could even reach 100 full-time workers after. His Wind Turbines will require welders, laborers, assemblers, electricians and electrical and mechanical engineers.

Siemens, the German engineering and electronics conglomerate, is the company’s only buyer of the 50-kilowatt size. Siemens once tried to build 50-kilowatt turbines but thought the niche was to small and moved to 5,000-kilowatt turbines. Although it is Huffman’s design, Siemens required their own approval on everything. The partnership allows His Wind to use Siemens’ name in promotional materials, but Siemens is not a financial backer of His Wind. The product includes many selling points including a yaw mechanism to position the unit to the wind, capability to feather the blades to reduce stress and a three layered fail safe braking system. 

 

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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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