Women-owned Better Power Inc. looks to the future

By Courtney Llewellyn

Better Power Inc. has been serving clients for over 20 years. In that time, the business has become one of America’s largest generator wholesalers – and focused not just on the future of its enterprise but on the future of its employees as well.

Located in Brighton, NY, a suburb of Rochester, Better Power Inc. is both a certified Small Business Administration Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and a New York State Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE). The SBA program helps women-owned, small businesses compete for federal contracts and also works with federal agencies to increase contracting opportunities and achieve the government’s 5 percent contracting goal for WOSBs. The New York WBE certification serves a similar purpose. The business has been owned and operated by Catherine S. Henn for over 20 years.

Better Power Inc. specializes in emergency standby generators and accessories for municipalities and other government entities and is a New York State Office of General Services (OGS) Contract holder.

Helping to keep Better Power Inc. at the top of the field and achieving positive economic results for a women-owned business is Sarah VanStaalduinen, manager of government sales. She’s been working for the business for over a year.

“As a member of the Better Power team, my mission is to act as a bridge of support and communication between our customers and suppliers,” VanStaalduinen said. “We build (and keep) valued relationships with our attention to detail, exceptional products and an expansive knowledge base.”

VanStaalduinen started her career in the auto industry as a Toyota-certified technician for about four years. She worked at a dealership for 15 years. “I always loved working with machines,” she said. “Generators have a lot of similarities to cars. Going to Better Power was a big opportunity for me, and I love learning. It’s not cars, but it’s engines and machinery.”

In her role as manager of government sales, VanStaalduinen works with New York’s OGS to coordinate with towns, villages, cities and counties that require generators. (Better Power Inc. works exclusively with Generac.) “Most municipalities have to search a state-offered database for generator suppliers. They call us and we provide an engineer who looks for certain power requirements and we determine the best fit for that site. We are a vendor/wholesaler,” she explained. “We work with the engineers, not for them. We’ll help build a generator that fits the needs based on the engineer’s findings, then coordinate with installers. We are the center point of contact for everyone.”

With offices in Rochester and Suffolk County, Better Power Inc. is located in areas that can successfully serve the entirety of New York State. The business does a lot of work with the New York State Thruway Authority and the state’s Department of Transportation, according to VanStaalduinen, because they always need portable generators for the night work they do on the state’s thousands of miles of highways.

“With EPA requirements, towable generators, especially Tier 4, can be a challenge,” VanStaalduinen said. “People and businesses need towable generators to move site to site, but there can be a large lapse in time between when they are requested and when they are delivered. It can be hard to hustle. We need to poke and prod. Dealing with a massive influx of requests can be a challenge.”

Another challenge she noted was dealing with the different regulations across New York, with some counties and municipalities having more rigorous specifications than others.

“It’s really interesting to see the process from start to finish. Every site, every customer has different needs,” she said.

Better Power Inc. itself is different, mostly for the fact that six out of seven of the company’s main employees are women. In addition to owner/CEO/CFO/CIO Henn and VanStaalduinen, there is Neffee Pinnock (dealer sales), Pat Faulkner (officer manager), Patty Ford (administrative assistant) and Nancy Kemp (staff assistant).

“When we received our WOSB certification in January 2018 it became a big attractor at shows, and we work with more people that way,” VanStaalduinen said. “It brought the business up and it’s been huge lately, especially through the New York State contract requirements.” Much like the federal government, New York requires a certain percentage of all work contracts to go to minority- or women-owned businesses.

The certifications and the exposure gained from them seem to be working well for Better Power Inc. Testimonials on the business’s site read “Our experience with Better Power could not be any better. Everything was done with extreme satisfaction” from the Fire District in Tonawanda, NY, and “I really appreciate all your hard work on this project and getting us our generator on schedule, please give your team a ‘thumbs up’” from Pulaski County Special School District in Pulaski County, AR.

“We’re primarily New York now, but we’re looking to expand and keep growing the business,” VanStaalduinen said.

To learn more, visit www.betterpower.us.

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