THE LEADERSHIP TEAM
Palmetto has successfully developed and financed more than $450 million in clean energy projects since its inception in 2009; we have an international presence with offices located in Europe and the United States. Our leadership team has originated, structured, financed and developed clean energy projects throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and America. In connection with these projects, the leadership team has provided services related to debt financing, equity financing and commodity structuring.
Chris Kemper, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Kemper founded Palmetto in 2009. Mr. Kemper is responsible for the company’s day-to-day operations. His activities are focused on large customer accounts and expansion strategy.
Mr. Kemper built the North American and European operations with an emphasis on structure finance in the real estate and clean energy industries. The company has expanded from a finance company into a vertically integrated operator under the guidance and management of Mr. Kemper. Mr. Kemper has structured and launched five clean energy and property funds to grow Palmetto’s assets under management above a $50mm threshold. Mr. Kemper has also secured private investment to execute acquisition strategies, which have rapidly expanded Palmetto’s market share since 2009.
After founding Palmetto, Mr. Kemper pioneered the United States expansion plan in 2012; upon relocation, he grew the team to forty-plus team members including a wide range of skill sets to support the Company’s mission — lead the world towards a clean energy future. Palmetto has become a pioneering finance company with on-the-ground operations at the fulcrum of the clean energy and real estate industries, which puts Palmetto in a class of its own. Today, Palmetto is scaling as a technology company with substantial in-house fulfillment capability within the clean energy arena.
Mr. Kemper also secured the merger and acquisition of regulated financial service firms in both Europe and the United States to drive a programmatic clean energy finance agenda. Years later, the respective investment companies were divested upon a strategic decision to eliminate regulatory activity and vertically grow the Company — thus, providing Palmetto more control over its assets and building value in its management companies.
Mr. Kemper also led a wide range of larger structured finance transactions including a large 210MW wind farm in western India, 90MW wind farm in southern India, a 30MW series of run-of-river hydro-electrical projects in Brazil and Chile – all generating annuity income streams for the company. In total, Mr. Kemper has completed more than five hundred clean energy financial related transactions with a majority associated with solar power.
Mr. Kemper built the real estate business, which is focused on clean energy application to company-owned properties; he created the first energy efficient, smart home real estate investment fund for single family residential in the United States. Mr. Kemper manages a series of funds whereby the Company optimizes its assets through energy improvements and, thus, lowering the cost of energy to its tenants.
Prior to Palmetto, Mr. Kemper worked at Tradition Financial Service, a leading international institutional inter-dealer broker where he was based in London, England. He was a senior capital broker and focused on clean energy markets in Asia and Latin America where he was responsible for origination, transaction structuring and investment strategy. Prior to Tradition, Mr. Kemper worked in Thailand with United Nations Environmental Sustainability Division and focused on environmental policy to drive energy parity for clean energy in Southeast Asia. He also worked with the United Nations/World Bank to originate and structure financial models for clean energy projects, putting policy strategies into practice. Prior to that, Mr. Kemper was a consultant for a large consultancy firm whereby he constructed sustainable development policies for governments and large developers.
Michael Conway, Structured Finance President
Mr. Conway joined Palmetto in 2014. Mr. Conway is responsible for project finance activities related to Palmetto’s solar and property divisions. Additionally, Mr. Conway oversees the Finance & Policy Team, which is responsible for new market research, underwriting and project management activities in the US and Europe.
Mr. Conway is tasked with spearheading the underwriting and financial structuring aspects related to acquisitions, dispositions and development for the company. During his tenure with the firm, Mr. Conway has underwritten over 150MW of solar projects in the US and the UK. On the property front, Mr. Conway works with the Property Team to establish underwriting criteria to ensure the financial objectives of the company are met. To date, Mr. Conway has been involved in the underwriting and deployment of $20m related to single family and multi-family acquisitions in the Southeastern US.
In addition, Mr. Conway is responsible for establishing and overseeing annual budgets for the company. He works closely with the Executive, Sales and Property Teams to derive sales and asset performance metrics for all solar and property divisions. Lastly, Mr. Conway works closely with Amit and Chris in developing and executing the financial strategy for Palmetto.
Prior to joining Palmetto, Mr. Conway worked for The Beach Company and OTO Development in underwriting and financing capacities. Both companies are US based real estate development and investment companies. At both companies, Mr.Conway worked closely with the CFOs to help raise and structure over $500m of debt and $100m of equity to support the development of hospitality and multi-family projects. Notably, he was responsible for establishing disposition pricing for the largest multi-family sale (per door) at that point in time in South Carolina. Asset sold for $66.5m and approximately $205k per door. Mr. Conway graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Timothy Zwerner, General Counsel
Mr. Zwerner joined Palmetto in 2016. Mr. Zwerner collaborates with other members of the senior management team to develop and execute company strategic initiatives and their tactical implementation. In addition, Mr. Zwerner is directly involved in complex business transactions in negotiating critical contracts on behalf of the company, providing guidance on all legal matters and the resulting implications, and overseeing the efforts of outside counsel.
Prior to joining Palmetto, Mr. Zwerner worked as an attorney in the Corporate, Real Estate and Tax Practice Group of a large national law firm. In this capacity, he counseled public and private companies in all manners of finance transactions, acquisitions and dispositions and governance matters.
Mr. Zwerner’s representative transactions include advising on: the purchase and sale of approximately 550,000 acres of timberlands for in excess of $1B; the purchase and sale of numerous multi-family apartment complexes throughout the southeastern United States for an aggregate transaction volume in excess of $500M; the acquisition and development of multiple grocery-anchored retail centers located throughout the southeastern United States with an aggregate transaction value in excess of $75M; the $100M merger of a healthcare IT SaaS company with a growth equity partner; numerous equity and debt financings on behalf of venture companies, venture capital firms and institutional lenders; and the acquisition and development of hotel sites.
Mr. Zwerner has published articles on matters relating to securities laws and real property tax issues and routinely lectures on a variety of corporate and real estate related topics. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Furman University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida.
Jim Wiggins, Marketing President
Mr. Wiggins is the Marketing President and oversees the marketing division, including management of the corporate brand as well as external communication of Palmetto™. Prior to Palmetto, Mr. Wiggins led marketing and strategy for large companies such as Arthur J Gallagher, Pulte Homes and Del Webb. He also has worked with Google and Adobe in partnerships and advisory roles.
Trent Hawthorne, Technology President
Brett Kersh, Property President
Mr. Kersh leads the Palmetto Property division's day-to-day operations and oversees all construction, property managers and portfolio build-out implementation. Prior to joining Palmetto, Mr. Kersh was an asset manager and executed operational strategy, acquisitions, housing renovations, tenant leasing and portfolio sales. Mr. Kersh has purchased, renovated, and leased more than 8 thousand homes and has executed more than $500 million in asset dispositions for some of the country's largest residential real estate investment companies.
James ("Jake") Wiley, Clean Energy Operations Manager
James Wiley, CPA, Manager — Mr. Wiley is the Manager of the Clean Energy division and oversees project management, technology procurement and implementation of operational processes, including construction. Jake has ten years of extensive experience in the residential solar sector. Mr. Wiley holds many accreditations including a general contractors license and NABCEP certification. Prior to his involvement in solar, Mr. Wiley was a manager at PricewaterhouseCooper.