PWR: KEEPING ITS COOL

Written on the 13 October 2010 by Tom Reid

PWR: KEEPING ITS COOL

WHEN Aston Martin engineers were looking to cool the V12 motor of one of the world’s most expensive luxury supercars, they didn’t go to the UK, Italy or even Germany for the components. They went straight to Ormeau.

Australia may only receive a few of the total 77 built Aston Martin One-77s, but the radiators and oil coolers in the rare luxury vehicles are built on the Gold Coast.

Those who joined tennis ace Rafael Nadal in forking out more than $2.5 million for the latest Aston may be surprised to learn of this, but with a 13-year history at the top of motorsport performance products, PWR Performance Products is now making a name for itself outside motor racing circles too.

Coincidentaly Aston Martin has been named the UK’s coolest brand, an accolade it has clinched four times in five years.

Since it was established in 2001, the CoolBrands initiative has sought expert opinions from a panel of creative industry specialists and consumers, defining which brands combine desirable products with a dynamic, innovative public image. Aston Martin was also voted the top automotive brand surpassing other luxury and specialist manufacturers.

PWR manager Marshall Vann (pictured), says that while the Aston Martin contract was a good coup, it’s the motor racing industry that has driven growth.

“Aston were having trouble cooling the high-powered motors in the new One-77  so contacted us to discuss custom building the radiators and oil coolers for them,” says Vann.

“The contract isn’t huge for us in dollar figures but reaffirms our standing as one of the world’s best that they would contact  us to provide a solution for a car like
that.”

Founded in 1997 by former V8 Supercar driver Paul Weel, PWR manufactures products that can be found on all Porsche Cup vehicles, US NASCAR and Le Mans series race cars and even in the engine bays of two Formula 1 teams.

On the domestic front, 80 per cent of the Australian V8 Supercars are fitted with the Ormeau-built engine cooling systems and every vehicle must use a control Alcon control brake systems, which PWR imports from the UK.

The company also supplies aftermarket performance products to the public through a raft of wholesalers and retailers in the US, UK and Australia.

“The race team side of the business has seen the biggest expansion over the last four to five years and really that is where the brand’s original emphasis was,” says Vann.

“Locally with the V8s, PWR gathered momentum reasonably quickly, building on Paul’s (Weel) name as a driver. But the products still needed to prove they were up to the job.

“Cracking the overseas markets was more of a challenge in that the brand recognition obviously wasn’t as strong and an Australian product had to compete in Europe and the US with suppliers only 20 miles down the road.

“But once PWR got the opportunity it was only a matter of proving the brand as performance products of the highest quality. The ongoing challenge is to make sure we get the parts built and shipped overseas to meet any time deadlines.”

Export operations have been streamlined with the establishment of US and UK subsidiaries five years ago and now account for 45 per cent of PWR’s annual contracts.

Vann says working with racing teams is ‘more like a partnership’ and with PWR pulling the pin on its own V8 Supercar team two seasons ago, the company now works closely with crews.

“Having a racing team is a great exercise in brand exposure but motor racing is an expensive sport. Now that we aren’t racing it removes that perceived conflict of interest anyway,” he says.

“We custom build almost everything to order in our Ormeau factory which includes a wind tunnel for a fully simulated testing environment. It’s not unusual for race teams around the world to send us a prototype sample and ask our engineers to duplicate and improve it.

“Apart from the aftermarket products for common performance road cars, there are little components that are built standard ready to go. It’s a pretty impressive factor here.”

Vann says PWR has a three-pronged plan that should see the company achieve 10 per cent year-on-year growth.

It expects to grow its presence in overseas motorsports including bringing an anticipated two more Formula 1 teams onboard next year; build more opportunities from the Porsche Cup and Aston Martin OEM (original equipment manufacturer) deals; and with the economic recovery underway the retail sectors in the US and Australia are identified as big growth areas.

With buses transporting staff from home to work and back and meals fully provided to the company’s 55 staff members, Vann says looking after PWR’s performance specialists is another key factor.

“We have to make sure our staff are looked after and are performing at their best, to continue building the best products we possibly can,” he says.

PWR Performance Products is the September winner of the Mayor’s Innovation Business Excellence award.


Author: Tom Reid

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