Blue Star and Volvo Penta Build Successful Business Partnership Based on Shared Values

Close collaboration plays key role as companies achieve growth milestones and tackle new opportunities.

When Volvo Penta first approached Blue Star back in 2011, the companies immediately found common ground in their commitment to business ethics. These were the seeds of a fruitful partnership that has only grown stronger over the past decade.

“Right from the start, the Volvo Penta team showed tremendous respect and dedication toward our business,” said Doug Fahrforth, founder of Blue Star Power Systems Inc. “From our initial contact with retired sales lead Bob Apple to every person we’ve dealt with since, this relationship has been nothing but transparent and that is a great testament to the way they do business.”

The partnership has served as a valuable springboard for Blue Star Power Systems’ steady year-over-year revenue growth. Shared values have been a foundation of the companies’ successful collaboration, as evidenced by well over one thousand engines delivered and installed all over North America.

Today, Blue Star Power Systems uses Volvo Penta’s full range of Tier 3 and Tier 4 final solutions, including the D5, D8, D11, D13, and D16 engines, for prime power and a growing number of mobile applications. The Volvo Penta Tier 3 D13 and D16 engines are primarily sold into their standby stationary applications. The generators serve a growing customer base across industries from agriculture and governmental projects to banks and supermarkets.

Building a Connection

The critical importance of open communication lines became evident early on. Having direct access to Volvo Penta’s engineering and product development teams gave Blue Star Power Systems the resources to better differentiate its diverse offering of power generation solutions and strategically serve specific applications and customers.

“We’ve always counted on Volvo Penta to be more than just an engine provider,” said James Kirtz, director of engineering at Blue Star Power Systems. “Whether it’s a unique design needed for a specific application or strategic guidance on a major product rollout, we know their team will be there to answer the call.”

This approach served as a catalyst for the success both companies achieved with the introduction of Volvo Penta’s highly anticipated Tier 4 power generation solution. The companies coordinated a collaborative testing program to help drive a smooth product launch while ensuring Blue Star Power Systems was well-positioned to support the rollout across its distributor network.

“Having the opportunity to get up close and personal with the product helped us better understand all the features and benefits in advance of the launch,” added Kirtz. “Those insights allowed us to go to market confidently with the assurance that we were doing it intelligently for our customers.”

A Difference-Maker for Distribution

Becoming one of the first power generation providers to enter the market with Tier 4 Final solutions allowed Blue Star to build credibility with distributors in its network. Sales Manager Scott Johnson and his team see potential for ongoing growth in this arena with a power generation solution that helps users meet new demands for sustainability and carbon footprint reductions.

“Volvo Penta’s engines are at the heart of our offering as an advanced, competitive Tier 4 Final solution,” said Johnson. “The portfolio combines objectives in lowering emissions with enhanced productivity and uptime, making it uniquely aligned to support a variety of customer needs.”

Already a requirement in many applications, Tier 4 standards also serve as a benchmark for organizations looking to advance green infrastructure initiatives. The close collaboration between Blue Star and Volvo Penta will ensure they’re prepared to respond as sustainability demands increase along with new government legislation and incentives.

“The world is changing rapidly and we have to be ready to evolve,” added Johnson. “Volvo Penta has been at the forefront of technology advancement, and we are confident in our collective ability to progress and meet new environmental standards.”

Bringing It Back Home

There’s no place like home for Blue Star Power Systems as the company has settled into its newly constructed 85,000-square-foot North Mankato, Minnesota, headquarters. The new building will be an incredible facilitator as the company moves forward with new projects to support its next phase of growth. With business growth and continuity in mind, Blue Star Power Systems installed a Volvo Penta-powered generator set on their facility. In addition to providing backup power when needed, the unit will be used for hands-on technician education during Blue Star Power Systems distributor training classes.

“The backup generators will help us conduct extensive training while ensuring continuous uptime in our facility,” said Fahrforth. “Implementing Volvo Penta for the unit was a no-brainer because of our business relationship and the number of Volvo Penta products we have in the field.”

In Forward Drive

Blue Star and Volvo Penta are proud of the precedent they’ve set together and how it’s shaped industry perceptions. Their relationship serves as a great example of how partnerships should operate.

“When your collaboration is built on shared values, the recognition you achieve together should benefit both brands. It’s been the root of our success on a thousand plus engine deployments and will be for the next thousand,” said Fahrforth.

“Volvo Penta is a classy organization that does business the right way. We’ll always know where things stand and be able to lean on their expertise, which just gives us more confidence as we embark on the journey ahead,” he added.

Darren Tasker is vice president of industrial sales at Volvo Penta, where he oversees the company’s development in power generation and off-road versatile equipment segments within North and Central America and the Caribbean.

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