ATHENS, GA, May 8, 2013 — Power Partners, the Athens manufacturing company that is a leading producer of distribution transformers in North America and international markets, will celebrate its tenth anniversary as Power Partners at a ceremony at the facility on May 15 at 3:00. The milestone will be celebrated with all 450 employees, retirees and their families at a picnic celebration on June 8.
The May 15 ceremony will be highlighted by several speakers, including Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson, representatives of leading electric utilities that are Power Partners customers, Fielding Gurling of the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers, State Vice President for Georgia Randy Redner of the American Cancer Society South Atlantic Division, and company owners Steve Hollis and Luke Faulstick.
Power Partners’ story began in 2003, when two Athens-based experts in lean manufacturing and team-based work cultures, Dr. Sherrie Ford and Steve Hollis, purchased the plant, which was built in 1958 by Westinghouse and later owned by ABB. Purchased in a turnaround situation and renamed Power Partners, the company reshaped its factory and work culture while maintaining the highest level of customer service.
Power Partners puts into practice each day the organizational development expertise honed by Ford and Hollis at Change Partners, the Athens-based consulting firm Ford established in 1996 (Hollis joined several months later) to advance work cultures of manufacturing companies around the world. The approach to manufacturing the company calls the PPI Way is based on making employee safety even more important than quality, delivery and cost; investing significantly in employee training; and using a wide range of lean manufacturing tools and techniques to improve customers’ experience, increase speed and flow of manufacturing processes and reduce costs.
One of Power Partner’s proudest achievements is its ability to manufacture transformers in less than two days in an industry where typical lead times are six to 10 weeks. This allows a quick response to all customers, particularly those in emergency situations such as hurricane recovery. More than 8.5 million transformers have been produced at the Athens facility.
In 2009, Power Partners began manufacturing a new product at the Athens facility — energy-efficient, environmentally friendly ECO-MAX adsorption chillers that utilize waste heat to provide cooling and other process capabilities, enabling customers to benefit from its high quality, short manufacturing cycles and innovative designs.
Sherrie Ford died in 2011. She was a visionary and was recognized worldwide as a hands-on leader in manufacturing work culture. While she headed Power Partners, it was one of the ten largest women-owned businesses in the United States. Her deep engagement as a leader and personal knowledge of her associates was a fundamental part of her and of the culture-making she practiced. Her associates honored her in 2012 by establishing the Dr. Sherrie Ford Memorial Learning Center, whose purpose is to promote the growth and development of each and every associate at Power Partners. The learning center features a computer lab with online learning tools, a library, and a comfortable sitting area.
In 2012, Luke Faulstick, a lean manufacturing expert whose global operations teams and manufacturing plants at other companies have won numerous awards, became co-owner, President and CEO. Faulstick had served on Power Partners’ Board of Advisors ever since the company was established in 2003. Steve Hollis is Chairman of the company and Executive Vice President for Development. In 2013, Faulstick and Hollis established PPI, a corporation whose brands include Power Partners, ECO-MAX, Gap Partners and Change Partners.
Power Partners has won many awards for its products, sustainable manufacturing practices, work culture and community involvement. These include the Excellence in Sustainability award presented by the National Institute of Standards’ Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) for breakthrough products in 2011, SJF Institute’s 2011 Green Jobs Award, which honors private businesses that contribute to both the economy and the environment, and designation of Power Partners as the top Relay for Life fundraiser for the Athens-Clarke County Chapter of the American Cancer in each of the ten years of the company’s existence.