Staco Energy Products Brings Its Legacy Of Power Quality To The Small Enterprise Arena

A Focus On SMEs

No matter how long a company has enjoyed success, in order to stay successful, it must adapt to changing times to keep pace. Staco Energy Products is the oldest manufacturer of power products in the United States and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. In 2011, Staco began refocusing its time, energy, and products on the data center/IT industry, specifically targeting SMEs, a sector Staco strongly identifies with. “Staco Energy is one of you, an SMB that lives the same pains and joys, having both the background of having existed through our core business during boom times, recognizing that we needed to change our approach and strategy and choosing the SMB data center space—you—to apply our collective knowledge and expertise toward and having the vision and capability to deliver on our promises,” says Ed Kwiatkowski, president of Staco Energy Products (www.stacoenergy.com).

Making A New History

For more than seven decades, Staco has manufactured and engineered voltage control, VAR compensation, UPSes, and other power quality products. Beyond being the country’s largest variable transformer manufacturer, its voltage regulators are operating in more than 90% of the United States, says Dave Kendall, Staco’s vice president of sales and marketing. Still, Staco had the foresight to recognize that opportunities for growth in many of the markets it serves will soon end. Thus, it revamped its collective efforts to target SMEs. “Over 90% of our entire R&D budget is devoted to the development of new products and channels to support the SMB marketplace,” Kendall says. “All of our current and served customers also have network closets, computer rooms, or data centers, creating an opportunity for Staco to enter the SME IT data center space.” Staco is releasing new power quality products for SMEs throughout the year. An example of Staco’s SME focus is the recently released FirstLine P 480VAC threephase online double conversion UPS for 160, 200, and 250kVA applications. The release rounds out the higher end of Staco’s Total SMB Power Solutions family, which includes a UniStar line of single-phase UPS models (1 to 10kVA applications), FirstLine P and PL three-phase UPS lines (10 to 250kVA applications), the FirstLine BMS Wireless Battery Monitoring System, and ServiStar nationwide support programs aimed at data centers. Overall, Staco cites its combination of low ASP (average sales price), ease of installation and service, and Free Battery Replacement Program as providing “the lowest TCO in the industry.” The battery program itself drives down TCO of FirstLine P and PL UPSes by addressing “the biggest cost of UPS after-pointof-sale operations—the replacement of batteries.”

Taking On The Big Boys

Kwiatkowski stresses that although Staco has dramatically changed its overall strategy, “power quality is our business and our only business.” This is in contrast to larger competitors who enjoy name recognition but don’t offer the attention to detail Staco prides itself on. “Being smaller and lesser-known makes us nimble,” Kwiatkowski says. “We don’t make relays, switches, and lights. We are in the power quality business.” Kendall says that while larger competitors are going through a de-emphasis in the SME space in terms of their channel to market, new product development, and how sales are handled, Staco doesn’t “spend any time looking at the megawatt business that competitors do. We’re entirely focused on the 10-to-200kVA space on the power side. Our competitors are not.” While competitors are focusing on “mega data centers or cloud computing data centers,” he says, Staco is “focused on the small to medium enterprise that has been kind of left out.” This includes dedicating a major chunk of business to doing special things, Kendall says. For example, Kendall says, if a customer requested a green UPS with polka dots, a larger competitor’s first question would be, “How many hundreds of these are you going to buy in the first year?” Staco’s response, he says, would be, “Tell me exactly what color of
green you’d like it painted, and oh by the way, our engineers say if you move this polka dot over here and that polka dot over there, you’d get a lot more polka dots on the box.”

The Difference Maker

“Challenge us, and you won’t be sorry.” That’s the message Kwiatkowski relays to customers. “What we like the most is when a customer calls and says, ‘This is OK, but what I’d really like is to have this or that,’” he says. “We know when we get that call that we’re going to win because it requires a little bit of customization or something extra, and that’s our biggest differentiator.” P