Sundog Cider was founded in 2013 by Jody Rael in Chatham, NY, in the heart of New York’s Hudson Valley. Jody is an entrepreneur, inventor and environmentalist and owner of three other companies; Kling Magnetics, Sundog Solar and Solaqua Power and Art.
Kling Magnetics, the first company located at the Chatham location, still custom manufactures magnets for promotional and educational clients across the US. As a manufacturer, we saw the energy costs for our factory get more expensive every year and that was part of the reason we were losing clients to China (the other part is that we actually paid a living wage to our employees!).
To take control of our energy costs, Kling took an energy smart loan offered by the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) that allowed us to retrofit our plant with energy efficient lighting and sprayfoam insulation and install a used vegetable oil boiler. The boiler allowed us to heat our facility with used vegetable oil (collected from restaurants) and eliminate propane. To further our energy independence we also installed a 12.7 kW solar electric system as well as a solar thermal system.
We were so impressed with the solar electric and solar thermal systems, we opened Sundog Solar, to install these systems for residential and business clients throughout the Hudson Valley. As that business grew we added another 25 kW’s of solar electric to our own factory and the another 40 kW and recently another 50 kW for a total of 127.7 kW. We also converted our diesel vehicles to use vegetable oil and installed upstate New York’s first solar air conditioner. Currently our factory is 100% solar powered and carbon neutral.
Many of Sundog Solar’s clients are local farms, including many apple farms, which used our solar electric systems to provide energy for their farming operations. In our work with farms and farmers, we realized the tremendous resource of not just apple farms in the Hudson Valley but also many cold storage facilities that could keep apples fresh throughout the year. As an advocate for sustainable living and an amateur brewer for over 40 years, Jody began to explore the idea of making small batch, hand crafted artisanal hard cider in 2009. From these rather diverse disciplines of manufacturing, renewable energy and brewing, Sundog Cider was formally born (licensed) in 2013.
Not content with brewing “the old fashioned way” – we are planning to explore brewing methods where we capture (or sequester) the CO2, a natural by-
The Sundog Cider Story
(Or How a Solar Company Got into the Hard Cider Business)