New CEO unveils three-year plan to pursue new wind markets and expand product lines to fuel growth.
Southwest Windpower, Flagstaff, Ariz., developer of the Skystream and Whisper turbines intended for homes and small farms, has a new CEO in Dixon Thayer. The former senior executive of Ford Motor Company and Kimberly Clark says he knows how to focus a company’s growth strategy. “I see much potential in this dynamic company,” says Thayer. “We are ready to move to the next level and actively pursue a worldwide game-changing strategy.”
Thayer’s hiring also demonstrates a refocusing of the company’s investors and board of directors to grow Southwest Windpower’s position in distributed wind energy systems by executing a strategy to more clearly distinguish itself. The company has also engaged Bryant Park Capital to pursue a few core elements of the company’s growth strategy. “Our firm has previously worked with Thayer pursuing growth opportunities such as strategic partnerships and acquisitions,” says Kurt Bermond, Managing Director of Bryant Park Capital. “We see a global focus on sustainable energy and believe this is the ideal time for Southwest Windpower to implement its new strategy to address geographic and product-line growth through every means available.” Other wind companies may find Thayer’s strategy instructive. His four point plan is to:
Strategy #1 – Create a vigorous European market
Southwest Windpower will pursue opportunities to expand its existing operations in Europe, beyond its current operations in Cologne, Germany. The company’s premier grid-connected wind system, the Skystream, was recently approved for sale into the United Kingdom. Consumers there have the knowledge, motivation and wind resource to make it one of the largest European markets for distributed wind systems. While Southwest Windpower has been selling into the European market for more than 15 years, the company’s European sales force will also identify new partnerships and alliances to build out the company’s distribution network and presence throughout Europe as well.
Strategy #2 – Develop rural electrification markets
While the European and Western world may opt for small wind systems as an economic and environmental model, there are many places in the world that have no other access to energy, except through stand-alone renewable energy systems. Thayer’s company will develop a strategy for providing wind energy solutions to rural areas of China, India and South Korea. As these markets develop, the company will explore opportunities to expand distribution and manufacturing capabilities beyond its current Joint Venture operations in Ningbo, China, to support key Asian markets.
Strategy #3 – Develop new products
Southwest Windpower plans to launch significant additions to the product line in the fall that will include products that deliver more energy in lower wind speed as well as systems and services to support them. Additionally, the company plans to expand its R&D and bring on new products through mergers and acquisitions. The company is interesting in filling out its product line with larger capacity turbines.
Strategy #4 – Leverage and enforce intellectual property
Thayer says his company has a strong set of brands and has been on the forefront of new ideas within the small wind arena. The company plans are to more aggressively protect its brand strength and pursue companies that are in violation of the firm’s key intellectual property assets. With these four strategies in place, says Thayer, the company plans for significant worldwide growth over the next three years.
Left: Skystream wind turbine
Right: Whisper wind turbine
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