Broken and unreliable EV chargers become a business opportunity for LA's ChargerHelp

Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Her mother’s recurring cancer brought her back to L.A. in 2016. Saving her energy for caretaking, she took relatively easy job handling customer support calls at EV Connect, a small company that makes software for charging stations. Before long, the growing company asked her to set up a call center and customer experience department.

“The charging stations would just be having these wonky issues,” she said. At the time, charger companies depended heavily on expensive electricians to fix what turned out to be software issues, on equipment for which they were not trained. There was, practically speaking, little awareness of the need for a job called “electric charger technician.”

“It would be super cool to have a workforce who wants to do that,” she said.

She left to work as a consultant to Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, where she started ChargerHelp. Her first contract was with Southern California Edison to work on electric school bus chargers. The company blasted off from there.

Terry “is a superstar who is able to share a vision for people to rally around and make things happen,” said Matt Petersen, the incubator’s chief executive. “Her story and Evette’s story is a hero’s journey for us.”

Evette is Evette Ellis, a workforce development expert Terry met at LACI and with whom she felt an immediate rapport. After watching Ellis in action, Terry brought her on at ChargerHelp, and was so impressed she made Ellis a company co-founder.


Ellis, who grew up in Compton, wasn’t sure at first. “These clean science-y white folks are good people, and they’re going to save the world, but I didn’t necessarily see myself in that space.”

But she fit right in. In the podcast interview, Terry said that executives in cleantech “talk about equity a lot, and that’s really cool to be part of.”

As a young teenager, Ellis recalls, she watched a woman behind the counter at a pool park day care center who was obviously in charge and told other people what to do. “That was my first introduction to the idea that there’s work, and then there’s the people that provide the job.” She asked to be hired and by the end of the summer had became a program coordinator.

Ellis earned her job-training chops at the federal Department of Labor’s Job Corps program, whose historic mission is training people who don’t plan to go to college for jobs in the trades. Like Terry, she joined LACI as a consultant.


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