Steve Wilke’s passion for renewable energy began in his early twenties. He built his first wind turbine using plans from an old issue of Mother Earth News while attending Indiana State University in the early 90’s. “As soon as that machine made the tiniest amount of electricity, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” said Steve. Immediately after college, Steve went to work for Crucilble Magnetics where he helped establish and test the processes used in the manufacture of Neodymium Iron Boron magnets, a key component in modern small wind turbines. “Neo is crazy stuff. Expose the powdered metal to air and it catches on fire..douse it with water and it continues to burn. It’s tricky material to work with, but the resulting magnetic components have really revolutionized a number of different industries.”
Steve used his experience in permanent magnetics as a springboard into the small wind industry. As manufacturing manager for World Power Technologies, Steve helped transition the Whisper Wind Turbine product line from low-volume, labor-intensive processes to high-volume, automated processes and a design better suited for precision manufacturing. The Whisper group of products is still in production and continues to hold a strong market position in several size classes.
Steve’s next move was into the Sales Manager seat at Bergey Windpower Company. “It all happened rather quickly…I heard about the job opening on Sunday, and by the following Sunday, I’d decided Bergey was the next step… I’d never really considered a sales position before taking the job, but it turns out I sort of have the personality for it”. Steve spent the next twelve years with Bergey, driving a steep sales growth curve, launching new products, designing on-grid and off-grid systems, training dealers, developing long-standing relationships with other wind professionals, and helping the company grow into a world-leader in the industry.
Steve moved to New York in 2011 in pursuit of bigger opportunities in distributed energy. As Director of Sales for Sustainable Energy Developments, Steve managed the sales cycle for Megawatt-class wind turbine projects and large-scale solar farms throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. “One of my most rewarding projects with SED was the 100kW turbine we installed for Camden High School up in Camden, Maine. The students raised all the money for the project and were directly involved in all stages of the development cycle. There was a real sense of community involvement throughout the process, and the kids learned first-hand what this kind of work is all about.”
In 2013, Steve returned to Oklahoma to establish Delta Energy + Design. “I missed Oklahoma and I wanted to raise my kids here. This state has such a huge need for solar and distributed wind development. I had an opportunity to start a firm with guys I really respect that also share my professional goals — I jumped at the chance.” Steve’s primary role at Delta Energy + Design is Business Development.