TJ Ozomoru

TJ Ozomoru | Solar Developer | IPS Solar 

CENTER CITY, MINN -- TJ Ozomoru (short for Tarila Justin), has been working in Minnesota’s fast-growing solar sector for a little more than two years. He is one of the 4,917 Minnesotans employed in the state’s solar industry, according to the 2019 Clean Jobs Midwest Report. And already he’s trying to convince his friends to join him. 

“My friend Chris works in sales. Not anything clean energy or anything like that. And he was telling me about misgivings he was having about his career and his life, and where he saw himself. I told him hey, I love what I do. I love waking up in the morning. I love coming to work. Being on the road meeting farmers, talking to new people every day. I feel great about what I do, so I would suggest joining this industry. It’s a great place to work,” he tells us.  

Finding his path

TJ works in real estate acquisition and the development of community solar gardens, as well as business development for Roseville-based IPS Solar. TJ spends much of his time pouring over Google maps, identifying land that could support a community solar garden. His favorite part of the job is when he gets to talk to interested landowners about a potential project. But before he found his calling working in clean energy, TJ admits he floundered for a bit after graduating from high school. 

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted, so I just picked Century College because it was close to me, and I picked energy technical specialist for the degree. I quickly found out that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” TJ explains. 

After withdrawing from college, TJ got his real estate license and worked as a realtor for two years, before returning to college after a bit of soul searching. 

“I sort of sat down by myself and really thought about what I wanted to do. I saw that the clean energy industry was taking off and was something I could do for the rest of my life,” TJ explains. 

He returned to Century College in White Bear Lake for a certificate in Solar Sales and Marketing, one of the few colleges in the country offering a specialized degree. 

Fate

Fate introduced TJ to his future employer, President of IPS Solar Ralph Jacobson during a continuing education class for his real estate license. Jacobson founded IPS Solar in 1991, and the company was recently named the fastest-growing private company in Minnesota by Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal. IPS’s business growth exemplifies the greater clean energy industry, which is growing 2.5 times faster than Minnesota’s overall economy, according to the 2019 Clean Jobs Midwest Report. 

Fulfillment in your work

After their first meeting in class, Jacobson offered TJ an interview at IPS, and shortly thereafter TJ joined the company as a solar installer on the roof, before moving into sales and business development.  He says his job gives him fulfillment, a quality lacking in some of his friends’ lives, as well as a more positive viewpoint on the greater climate challenges our society faces. 

“It feels great. A lot of people I’ve talked to that sort of have their ear to the ground on climate change, they kind of feel despair because it feels like it’s a huge challenge to take on. But when I pass one of our projects it feels like “all right, we're doing something” we’re not just sitting on our hands, we’re out there trying to make a difference and it feels good,” TJ tells us.