Page 14: of Marine News Magazine (November 2019)

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Fernstrum set the standard in marine cooling systems over 65 years ago, building a reputation focused on in- novation. Indeed, the ? rm is arguably in a class by itself when it comes to discussing any marine OEM market vendors. This month, listen in as Sean Fernstrum weighs in on how his ? rm arrived at its enviable market position, what comes next, and why:

In an era of increasingly complicated regulations and sophisticated technologies disrupting the workboat sector, one piece of the equipment – the Keel Cooler – remains as possibly the most important and at the

Sean Fernstrum same time, the simplest piece of hardware on the wa- ter. That hasn’t changed much over time, has it?


My grandfather started R. W. Fernstrum & Company in 1949. Over the past 70 years, we’ve seen the vessels in this

R.W. Fernstrum industry evolve to meet the increased demands of today, both regulatory and operational. Successful equipment & Company manufacturers have evolved their product lines as well. ean Fernstrum is a third-generation owner of R.W While the keel coolers we built in the past may look like our keel coolers today, and it’s not uncommon to ? nd our

Fernstrum & Company. He graduated from Michi-

GRIDCOOLER keel coolers built back in the 1950’s still gan Technological University in 1990 with a Bach-

S in service today, most of those keel coolers wouldn’t meet elor of Science degree in Scienti? c and Technical Com- munications. After college, he came home to Menominee, our current quality control requirements.

Michigan and began working as a Technical Writer at R.W.

Although the keel cooler is an unquestionably simple

Fernstrum & Company. He has been President of the com- piece of equipment, over time, there must have been pany for the last 8 years. Sean has worked with a number tweaks and changes that improve the product line as of marine industry, local community, and charitable or- it matches the changes and increases in technology ganizations throughout his career, including the PVA As- on board a given hull. Give us some examples of that sociate Council, Rotary International, United States Power metric in play.

Squadrons, Boy Scouts of America, Advisory and Alumni Back to evolution, as the steel alloy in boat hulls changed

Boards at Michigan Technological University. in the early 1970’s, the hulls became less rigid and more

It is no secret that R.W. Fernstrum & Company has ? exible. This led us to tighten up our quality control speci- been engineering and manufacturing GRIDCOOLER ? cations as well as make changes in the copper alloys we

Keel Coolers for the marine industry since 1949. Fern- use in our tubing and the silver content of our braze wire. strum has since partnered with WEKA Boxcoolers B.V. In 1981, the depression in our industry pushed us into and Tranter to expand its product offerings. These prod- custom designed units. Whether it one or one hundred ucts are used for cooling marine propulsion engines, gen- (and it was a lot more of the one, than one hundred), we erator sets, reduction gears, and auxiliary systems onboard would make the customizations necessary to better meet vessels of all sizes worldwide. Each solution is engineered the customer’s needs and get that job. The 1990’s lead us to to meet the requirements of a particular engine, vessel, a number of variations and improvements. Working with and operating conditions. a customer to limit thru-hull ? ttings led to our Z-Option

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Marine News

Marine News is the premier magazine of the North American Inland, coastal and Offshore workboat markets.