From the smallest home-based business to the most mission-critical government or defense facility, there is no mistaking our nation’s tremendous dependence upon energy to keep these operations running without interruption. The loss of power to a small business could mean a severely damaged bottom line; to mission-critical facilities, it could result in compromised national security. No one understands these crucial concerns better than Katolight Corporation with headquarters in Mankato, Minn.
Celebrating its 50th year of producing emergency standby power generator sets, Katolight greets the new century with an inventory of powerful new ideas. One evident manifestation of this goal is the numerous new products Katolight continues to offer, which meet ever-evolving application-specific challenges in industries using increasingly advanced and complex technologies.
To keep pace with all of this industrious activity, Katolight built a brand-new 80,000-square-foot facility to complement its original 30,000-square-foot building. The new facility will quadruple the company’s capacity and will contribute to operational efficiencies. The original facility will produce Katolight’s SP series of products, allowing more flexibility at the new facility.
The Katolight Industrial/Commercial Group success story emerges as an impressive collaboration between Katolight, its suppliers, and its distributor network. It enjoys dependable and loyal relationships with internationally renowned suppliers including Cummins, Detroit Diesel, John Deere, GM, Volvo, and Mitsubishi. “From our perspective, we feel that it’s to our advantage – as well as to our customers’ advantage – to use the expertise of these engine manufacturers, who are the world’s premier engine manufacturers,” says Tom Ferris, sales and marketing manager for Katolight’s Industrial/Commercial Group.
Katolight designs and engineers its suppliers’ components into generator sets meeting the specific needs of its customers. “We supply emergency power backup generators as a total solution to our customers’ requirements,” says Ferris. Total solutions for a generator can include an array of options and accessories such as the engine, fuel tanks, switchgear, and enclosures.
Ferris adds: “The backbone and quality of Katolight’s products comes from not only our assembly process, but from our very strong suppliers and strategic alliances.” Marathon provides the generator portion of these powerful packages. Switchgear components come from industry leaders such as ASCO, GE Zenith, Thomson Technology, Inc., and Cutler Hammer. Controls Inc., provides Katolight with the KGM250 microprocessor digital controller, “a very dependable and dynamic engine control,” says Ferris. “We view our partners as instrumental in collaborating in our product development.” Other suppliers include Governors America, Coleman Powermate, Brighton Electronics and Diesel Radiator.
With a network of over 70 industrial/commercial distributors throughout North America, the Caribbean, South America, and China, Katolight is well-positioned to achieve its goal to become a prominent player in the industry. The company’s distributor network continues to grow at a rapid rate for its two distribution channels: agriculture and industrial/commercial.
Powering the Powerful
Nothing bears testament to a company’s unwavering quality and reliability as the precisionist choosing that company’s products. Katolight’s emergency standby systems power facilities operated by powerful luminaries including Bill Gates, NASA, the U.S. State Department, and the Air Force One Hanger. And many of the world’s hospitals, data centers, police and fire departments, and mission-critical sophisticated telecomm applications use Katolight generator sets.
Although Katolight is well-known as a custom manufacturer of generator sets for very specific and complex emergency backup power requirements, “we’ve now added to our Katolight CP Series (custom product) by developing products that target more basic and general applications, of which there are thousands,” notes Ferris. “So we are continuing to grow our business by focusing on adding new products aligned with specific markets.”
Katolight’s industrial/commercial products are focused on three major markets: residential, standard, and custom applications. Katolight LH (Lighthouse™) series, designed for the residential market, is available in a 9 kW, 15 kW, and 25 kW fully automatic and enclosed gas-fueled generator set. “These products start immediately after sensing the loss of utility and they stop automatically when the utility is restored,” Ferris says.
The company expects the LH series to provide excellent growth markets as new homes continue to increase in size and need for backup power. These LH units are manufactured by Coleman Powermate for Katolight and provide distributors with a broader range of products for their customers. Katolight works closely with architects and electrical contractors, who provide market trend information and who are also Katolight customers.
The Katolight SP (standard product) series was developed for applications requiring basic generator sets with a limited amount of accessories and options. Katolight SP products are used in numerous applications by small businesses, health care facilities, and fire and police departments. “These applications typically do not require complex paralleling of generators or complex switching, for example,” says Ferris.
Katolight CP (custom product) series of products are designed and engineered for mission-critical, customized, precise and complex applications. “Katolight got its start with these products and they are still a major focus for us and is a strength of our company,” Ferris says. “It’s important for people to realize that while we continue to introduce new products to new markets, this does not mean our focus is changing from offering a custom product.” These products are used widely in hospitals, data centers, and other mission-critical applications.
Powering the Future
As energy continues to be a hot topic internationally and as many industry experts wrangle with how to cope with increasing energy demands, Katolight quietly and diligently keeps its nose to the R&D grindstone. In its partnership with ENCORP, it will develop a distributed generation product – a ‘smart’ generator taking emergency standby power to the next level. ENCORP’s automatic paralleling switch systems will be used in Katolight’s generator sets and will provide a wide range of functionality including control, real-time monitoring, load synchronization, and paralleling.
“In the past, generator sets would remain idle, waiting for utility loss to kick in,” says Ferris. “Now they can be used more frequently – not only for standby power as backup to the utility, but to aid in curtailment programs such as peak shaving.” By generating power during peak periods, generator sets will help facilities save on energy costs.
Katolight envisions a bright future with strong, double-digit growth. “The family-owned company has, over the last 50 years, been subjected to all the trials and tribulations of the industry and Katolight has a tremendous amount of experience in its employee base,” Ferris says. “Our 150 employees have high values and a great work ethic. Our expertise will help position the company as one of the five top power generator manufacturers in the country. And our new LH and SP series of products will help Katolight achieve the company’s revenues and growth goals.”