Steam Turbine Alternative Resources (STAR) is the only family-owned and woman-owned turbine company in the United States. It manufactures replacement parts for turbines in power plants, and its precision machine shop specializes in customized billets to help improve efficiency. For individualized parts that have been worn down, STAR uses reverse engineering to determine how the part fits into the power plant and recreates it.
The company has a service team called STAR Field Fit that goes out to examine the needs of its clients’ power plants, and this gives it the ability to provide the highest quality of products and services. The STAR Field Fit Team’s semi-trailer trucks are equipped with machine shops. These trucks enable STAR to quickly make parts onsite at the power plant.
The capacity to respond quickly is essential in the power industry, because if a plant goes down, it can affect an entire city. STAR is always improving its service speed for when a power plant is having issues. The mobile team serves all of the United States, and it has also ventured overseas into Europe, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico.
“We are the only turbine company that’s woman-owned and family-owned, and most of the others are big companies like GE. But we are at this point right now getting about eighty percent of all replacement parts in this industry, which is wonderful,” says STAR Administrative Assistant Trish Reid.
The family company began in 1988, when Tammy Flaherty brought the idea of manufacturing replacement parts to her father John P. Flaherty Jr. who owned a foundry at the time. The Flaherty family already had plenty of experience in manufacturing going back four or five generations to the early 1900s. Trish, who also happens to be Tammy’s sister, describes the beginning of the company’s journey. “She sat down with my dad, and they decided to start this little company called STAR in 1988. Tammy had a vision of an enduring, woman-owned business, and together they decided they would make these parts individually to go into all the power plants throughout the U.S. and got on the road and started making sales calls and pitching it. That’s how we started.”
The Star Field Fit branch of the company was established in 2001, and after a recent expansion, STAR now has two locations in Marion, Ohio. There are approximately fifty employees within the company, and Star Field Fit has fifteen staff members specialized in reverse engineering.
With clear emotion in her voice, company President and Chief Executive Officer Tammy Flaherty expressed appreciation for her loyal and dedicated team of employees. “I have to say, I am so blessed with everyone at my company.” Much of the staff has been with STAR for over twenty-five years, and this is because once someone becomes a part of the team, they are considered part of the family.
“We are all kind of one big family. We have a lot of lunches and dinners together, and we do a lot of celebrating together. We take care of family, and if issues come up, we try to help out family and with things that people need here,” says Trish. STAR is a strong believer in helping people through hard times and has helped provide the funding for treatment when a family member of one of its people is having trouble with addiction.
Just as the company is very engaged with the care of its employees and their families, it is also highly involved with the community and local organizations in Marion, Ohio. It takes a particular interest in addiction counseling and recovery because the drug-related problems have become more prevalent in the community, and STAR wants to uplift all the people of Marion. “Marion is also a family to us. This hometown is where we grow up, and so the people here mean a lot to us here,” says Trish.
STAR gives back through the local YMCA, donates money to home healthcare service Helping Hands, and supports Goodwill’s career center by employing people who are having trouble seeking work. It provides coats to children at a local school and dedicates time to support food shelters in person. From the Marion Palace Theatre to recovery centers, hospitals, and schools, there is no aspect of the community that STAR has not supported in the last thirty-two years.
For a number of years, Tammy was also on the board of directors for the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce. She was involved with a manufacturing group within the chamber focused on helping to build businesses back up after the town lost much of its industry in the early 1980s.
Ohio State University has a regional campus in Marion and STAR supports the school in several ways. All of its employees are offered education through the Marion Technical College, which is on the same campus as Ohio State University at Marion. The company encourages its people to improve themselves and move up the ladder because its goal is to promote from within as much as possible.
Although the details are under wraps, STAR is in discussions surrounding an exciting new idea for a patent in the turbine industry. The company continuously searches for emerging technology and different methods to improve efficiency and decrease waste.
“We’re always looking to the future on how to do better with the energy field. What is the best thing for the community? What is the best thing for the U.S., and how can the power companies help?” Trish says.
To reduce the amount of material discarded into landfills, waste-to-energy (WtE) has become more common in the U.S. in recent years, and this is an area in which STAR is quite knowledgeable. Waste can be burned and turned into usable energy, yet this method is not as well-known as solar or wind alternatives.
Of course, the company supports a variety of approaches to generating power, including coal and nuclear power plants; however, it makes adjustments wherever possible to mitigate the effects of power generation on the environment.
The coal industry is STAR’s biggest market, but as more coal plants are shut down across the country, the company seeks to support these facilities and suggest possible innovative ideas that could help turn the business around, including waste-to-energy.
Integrity and honesty are the two most fundamental values here, and this attitude comes directly from its leadership. Every employee quickly learns the company will go out of its way to resolve an issue or make up for a mistake. If a part is incorrect or any other problem occurs, STAR will immediately find a way to make it right. As this is a family-owned company, the Flaherty name is on the line, and its reputation as a trustworthy partner is too important to risk.
To receive some feedback on its services, STAR sent out a newsletter to clients to ask how satisfied they were and see if there were any recommendations on ways to improve. The clear message from the responses was that clients appreciate when a company recognizes and validates their concerns.
Growing at a comfortable speed, STAR acquired a second building for expansion, hired additional employees, and purchased new machinery last year. And the company will continue promoting education for its employees to keep them moving forward in their careers.
In the hopes of remaining ahead of the curve in the industry, STAR is excited to branch out into new fields and discover new technology, building upon Tammy’s vision. “We’re always trying to grow, find places where we’re needed, and find new ways to help produce electricity to the world. We are trying to stay on top and be innovative,” explains Trish.
With thirty-two years of experience in the turbine industry, STAR has learned to make every effort possible to take care of the environment, no matter how small or insignificant a new green initiative may seem. “You have to stay on top of the environmental protection. It’s not just making a part; it’s making a clean part. It’s trying to keep the world clean; it’s the EPA; it’s everything that we can do to be on top of making this world a better place,” says Trish.