Global Power Partner Spotlight: Melvin Louis

Melvin Louis (corporate) (1)Starting at Kohler in 2008, Melvin has been working to support mission critical backup power all around Southeast Asia. With a background in engineering, sales, and operations, he’s a perfect fit for creating power solutions. As part of our Global Power Partner Spotlight series, let’s get to know Melvin better as a key contributor to Kohler's customer success.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

In 2013 I took a role at Kohler as a senior sales engineer. In the 10 years since my return, I have gone on to take on roles managing regional sales in countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. One of my biggest jobs has been managing the local sales representatives in Vietnam and Indonesia, working to build the teams there.

In 2021, I undertook a new sales operation and tech sales role, where I worked with a team that focused on supporting the sales team as well as on direct projects within Singapore. In my current role, I manage the industrial solutions team, customer service team, sales force, and direct Singapore sales account.

What was your Welcome To The Industry moment working with data centers?

I had my first valuable experience when we worked on a 2N data center project in Hong Kong, supplying two sets (System A and System B) of 3x 2 MVA generators, with two different engines manufactured by Kohler. We also had to provide a customized synchronizing panel to support both systems. We spent many late nights testing, over months both within the factory and at the site to ensure the system catered to the client’s requirements and fulfilled all the specifications.

Sounds like you learned a lot! What does it mean to you to be a data center global power partner, and how do you support this commitment in your day-to-day operations?

Over the years, data centers have not only evolved, but their numbers have also vastly grown with the continuous demand. At Kohler, our industrial solutions team supports the respective sales managers on their regional projects, providing various solutions to cater to the various specifications indicated in the tender documents. Every project is unique, as we support inquiries coming in from approximately 19 different countries around the region. Some countries have their own data center requirements to work within, and in addition, each project has its own unique requirements to cater to on the site.

The team works with vendors around the region on customized solutions (e.g., cooling system, alternator, enclosure, redundant starting, etc.) to best suit the specs. The industrial solutions team also supports the sales team by conducting proposal presentations to local partners around the region on the proposed solutions if required.

In Singapore, our team focuses on taking on full turnkey projects. Currently, we’re working on projects with enclosures, underground fuel systems, site installations, and more.

What do you find compelling about working in the data center sphere?

The data center industry is evolving, and we must keep up to date with the latest design requirements, respective country regulations, and be innovative with our proposals and solutions to be within this circle. Every project is different, with different requirements, thus we must be up to date not only with what we can offer but also know what our competitors in the market are doing and focusing on.

In Singapore, we bid for projects directly and it’s a different ball game, where we involve internal stakeholders and external vendors to support us to be successful. With regional projects, my team works together with respective sales representatives and our partners to package a suitable solution successfully. Though in many projects we do not see our generator brands displayed and due to non-disclosure agreements we are not able to reveal details, it’s all about the satisfaction of knowing Kohler generators are supporting a particular facility, and that my team and I played a part in it.

You’ve seen many changes in the industry throughout the years. What do you see being the biggest trends, considerations, or requirements at play in the data center sphere today? How are these requirements currently being met, and what work still needs to be done?

Data center requirements are ever-changing and in recent years some data center owners around the region prefer working with generator manufacturers rather than going through distributors to work on global purchase agreements. Since we are managing various countries, we must be up to date with all the different sets of regional regulations and restrictions.

One trend we’re seeing is more countries moving into providing a green solution, focusing on emissions to reduce carbon footprints. At Kohler, this means talking about our emission engine, HVO solutions, as well as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) package solutions that can support these requirements in some of these project requirements.

Another major consideration is the speed of delivery. Most data center projects need customized solutions to meet their requirements, where the industrial solutions team works closely with the engineering team to provide the most cost-effective solution to meet the site requirements. This process can be a challenge, as many projects and regions require a fast turnaround to supply generators for their projects, some as short as 180 days. Therefore, fast turnaround on builds is one of the key considerations that could make or break a deal in the data center sphere today.     

What have been some of your biggest successes in your career so far?

Over in Singapore, my first success story was when my team secured a brownfield project at a data center in 2019, supplying 4x 2 MVA generators. It was our first direct project within Singapore, and we had to customize the unit to fit out within the allocated space. It brought on some challenges, which we overcame to ensure we supplied and commissioned our first project within Singapore.

Following that, in 2022 we secured our largest-ever direct data center project within the Southeast Asia region over here in Singapore to supply, deliver, install, test, and commission 21x 3.75 MVA generators, complete with an underground fuel system. This project is still ongoing, and the tentative completion date is August 2024.

Outside of your Kohler work, what do you like to do? Help us get to know you better.

On some weekends, when possible, my friends and I get onto our motorcycles for a ride into our neighboring country, Malaysia, enjoying good food and relaxing. Other than that, I spend time hanging out with family and friends. If time permits and we can squeeze in a short weekend getaway, we take a drive to Malaysia to visit our extended family and friends. Apart from this, I enjoy traveling out of Singapore and exploring places whenever possible, especially after the borders have opened.

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